Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Llanabba Castle School

Llanabba Castle School. Small privately owned school in North Wales attended by fifty or sixty boys, ages ten through eighteen. Despite Waugh’s protestations to the contrary, it is most likely a fictionalized version of the North Wales school where he taught after leaving Oxford University. The essence of the school is falseness: The building is a country house altered to resemble a medieval castle, while the school’s claims to high academic standards and upper-class pupils and staff are similarly false. Pennyfeather is not impressed by the school’s dinginess or the meanness of its meals.

In a scene involving Llanabba’s annual sports competition, most of Waugh’s targets for satire are attacked: the chaotic organization of the school; the way in which the school’s owner and headmaster, Dr. Augustus Fagan, fusses over the few titled parents; whether the nouveaux riches can ever be as good as the old-fashioned titled families; a general air of hypocrisy; and even the position of blacks in society. In sports, cheating by staff and pupils is rampant.

Waugh makes use of this section of the novel to satirize the Welsh people, showing them as mercenary subhumans. In particular he describes (in insulting terms) a local brass band hired to play during the sports competition. Several of the scenes set in Wales take place in a local village public house, which is patronized mostly by the working...

(The entire section is 590 words.)