Christopher Tietjens (TEE-jehns), the younger son of a Yorkshire squire, a man with old-fashioned values. He is faithful to his adulterous wife and loyal to his friends. He loans money to Vincent Macmaster and even permits him to take credit for his own brilliant statistical analyses. After he falls in love with Valentine Wannop, Christopher still insists that his wife, not he, must institute divorce proceedings. Although he has a desk job in London, Christopher insists on going to France to serve in the war. Sent home after being wounded, he finally asks Valentine to become his mistress, but they part before their relationship can be consummated.
Sylvia Tietjens, Christopher’s wife, a beautiful, heartless woman who remains physically attracted by her husband, though she hates him for his nobility and is determined to break him. She spends her life slandering her husband and seducing other men.
Valentine Wannop, an intelligent, idealistic, and unselfish young woman. She gets to know Christopher when, appealing to his chivalry, she convinces him to drive a horse-cart in which a fellow demonstrator is escaping from the police. On the way home, the two get lost. The fact that they spent the night together becomes the basis for rumors that they are lovers. Valentine’s reputation also suffers because, as a pacifist, she is thought to be pro-German. Although she does not expect anything to come from her feelings for Christopher, she cannot forget him.
Sir Mark Tietjens
Sir Mark Tietjens, Christopher’s brother, his senior by fourteen years. Although the brothers are virtual strangers, Mark believes Christopher’s explanation of events, in part because he has always disliked Sylvia. He urges Christopher to divorce her and to marry Valentine.
Vincent Macmaster, a self-seeking Scot of unimpressive origins who takes advantage of Christopher’s generous nature. When he marries Edith Ethel Duchemin, formerly his mistress, he becomes financially secure. During the war, he works his way up in the bureaucracy.
Edith Ethel Duchemin
Edith Ethel Duchemin, the elegant wife of a wealthy Anglican rector, who is insane. After her husband’s death, she marries Macmaster and devotes herself to his advancement and to the persecution of Christopher and of her one-time confidante, Valentine.
General Lord Edward Campion
General Lord Edward Campion, Christopher’s godfather. Though capable in military matters, he is no judge of human nature. He admires Sylvia and thinks Christopher should patch up the marriage.
Christopher Tietjens, an army captain in charge of almost three thousand men. He bears his responsibilities bravely, exhibiting compassion as well as self-control. When Sylvia appears at the front, he is patient. He even spends some time in a hotel with her. When he attacks a man who enters their hotel room, evidently unaware of his identity as Sylvia’s lover, it is Christopher who is disgraced.
Sergeant-Major Cowley, an elderly Englishman, Christopher’s right hand and one of his greatest admirers. Later a second lieutenant, he joins his old captain on Armistice Day.
Captain Mackenzie, Macmaster’s nephew, who clings to sanity with Christopher’s help. He also appears on Armistice Day, still a little mad.
Sylvia Tietjens, who appears at the front to see Christopher and to demand money and property. She turns General Campion against her husband by insisting that he is a Socialist.
Christopher Tietjens, who continues to do his duty in the most horrible conditions. After narrowly escaping death, he returns to England. No one will give him a government post, and he is reduced...
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to selling his books and furniture. On Armistice Day, some of his men find him and insist on celebrating with him.
Valentine Wannop, a physical education instructor who is called into the school office in the midst of the Armistice Day festivities. Lady Macmaster, Sir Vincent’s wife, has called to let Valentine know where Christopher is and, incidentally, to inform the schoolmistress about her bad character. Ignoring the schoolmistress’s well-meant advice, Valentine quits her job and goes to Christopher.
Sir Mark Tietjens
Sir Mark Tietjens, who is bedridden after a stroke. He has not said a word since learning that the Allies would not occupy Germany. Shortly before he dies, he speaks to Valentine, giving her the reassurance about the future she so desperately needs.
Marie Léonie Rioter, Lady Tietjens
Marie Léonie Rioter, Lady Tietjens, formerly Sir Mark’s mistress, now his wife. She nurses him devotedly.
Valentine Wannop, who now lives with Christopher and Mark. Strengthened by her pregnancy, Valerie stands up to Sylvia.
Christopher Tietjens, who is trying desperately to make a living as a furniture dealer.
Sylvia Tietjens, who has decided to divorce Christopher and marry General Campion. She remains curious about Valentine and Christopher. First she sends her son to spy on them, then she goes herself. Perhaps at last feeling a trifle guilty, she leaves, denying that she meant any harm to Valentine and the child.
*England. These novels trace the devastating impact of World War I on England, emphasizing the sharp division between pre-and postwar conditions. Ford Madox Ford represents prewar England as a country on the verge of chaos, with only nationalistic illusions maintaining a semblance of order. The war destroys those illusions, and the postwar changes in British culture are represented by the decline of the Tietjens family from their upper-class position as wealthy, landed gentry.
Groby. Yorkshire country estate of the Tietjens family and the postwar setting for The Last Post, the concluding novel in the series. The estate’s main house is notable for the gigantic Groby Great Tree that has grown into the structure of the house. After the war, the estate is rented to Americans who have no respect for the history behind it, except from a tourist’s perspective. When the Americans try to have Groby Great Tree removed, they do significant damage to the entire structure of the house. These dramatic changes at Groby symbolize the decline in power and authority of the British gentry in the aftermath of the war.
*London. Capital of Great Britain, in which Tietjens recuperates with Sylvia at the end of Some Do Not . . . Sylvia moves within London’s elite society while Tietjens is stationed in France, and Christopher’s older brother Mark works in the War Office near Regent’s Park. In addition, Valentine teaches physical education at a London girls’ school.
*Western Front. Broad region running from Belgium through France that was the center of the most intense and devastating combat in World War I. Tietjens is stationed there during the war, and Ford provides vivid descriptions of life in the trenches for British soldiers. In Some Do Not . . . Tietjens suffers amnesia after being caught in an explosion during 1916. Later, he is assigned to supply duties that keep him behind the lines, but through the influence of his godfather, General Campion, he is reassigned to the front at Flanders. Even at the front, Tietjens’s attention is split between his military duties and some “distant locality”—his marriage problems, financial situation, and romance with Valentine back in England. Toward the end of A Man Could Stand Up, Tietjens again experiences shell shock after being blown in the air and buried in a shell explosion. Tietjens is hospitalized in Rouen, as was Ford during the war.
In a key scene in No More Parades, Sylvia makes an improper visit with Christopher at the front. They later meet at a nearby hotel (from which the sound of shelling can still be heard) and attempt reconciliation. Their reunion, however, is interrupted by Sylvia’s lover, Major Perowne, and the ensuing fight is witnessed by General Campion. The positioning of this scene so close to the battle lines collapses and intensifies Tietjens’s concerns over his domestic problems at home and his military duty at the front.
Mountby. English country estate, near Rye, owned by Tietjens’s godfather, General Campion. The novel opens in 1912, with Tietjens and Macmaster on a train to Rye for a golf outing with Campion. While visiting Campion, Tietjens first meets Valentine Wannop and begins his romantic relationship with her.
Lobscheid. Little-known German resort at which Sylvia conducts her extramarital affair at the beginning of Some Do Not . . . . The fact that she vacations at a German resort in the years before the outbreak of war indicates her blindness to the developing crisis in Europe.
Agenda 27, no. 4, and 28, no. 1 (Winter, 1989; Spring, 1990). A double issue devoted to essays on Ford’s fiction by twenty-eight different critics.
Cassell, Richard A., ed. Critical Essays on Ford Madox Ford. Boston: G. K. Hall, 1987. An excellent collection of essays, most focusing on The Good Soldier but with significant attention paid to Parade’s End.
Mizener, Arthur. The Saddest Story. New York: World Publishing, 1971. The definitive biography of Ford, a long and thorough study that includes an appendix with a separate discussion of Parade’s End.
Moore, Gene M. “The Tory in a Time of Change: Social Aspects of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End.” Twentieth Century Literature 28 (Spring, 1982): 48-69. A discussion of the ways in which the novel reflects Ford’s views of the dramatic changes inflicted on English society by World War I.
Sniton, Ann Barr. Ford Madox Ford and the Voice of Uncertainty. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1984. Studies Ford’s style in detail, showing how its hesitancy and ambiguity reflect Ford’s ambivalent attitude toward his times.