Men at Arms, 1952

Guy Crouchback

Guy Crouchback, a thirty-five-year-old Roman Catholic who is reserved and ironic. After his divorce, he lived morosely in a family castle in Italy. When World War II begins, he returns to England, convinced that the Allied cause is just. He trains in an old-fashioned army unit, the Halberdiers, but gradually becomes disillusioned by the war. He proves his valor in a disastrous expedition (“Skylark”) on the West African coast. He generously gives whiskey to a hospitalized friend, who dies as a result. In disgrace, he is sent back to England.

Gervase Crouchback

Gervase Crouchback, Guy’s saintly father, the book’s moral center. Financial problems force him to lease the family home and live in a seaside hotel.


Trimmer, an officer trainee; he is stupid, uncultured, and impudent. He is dismissed from the Halberdiers.

Frank de Sousa

Frank de Sousa, a witty and worldly officer trainee.


Apthorpe, a fellow trainee, then fellow officer, about thirty-five years old. He is burly, mustachioed, occasionally drunken, ambitious, and exceedingly earnest. He tells varying stories about his past, and he has lived in Africa. He often is the target of Guy’s ironic remarks. He possesses a large stock of tropical gear, including a portable water closet or “thunder-box.” After this object explodes, Apthorpe acts more and more eccentrically. He becomes ill in Africa and dies from drinking too much whiskey.

Virginia Crouchback Blackhouse Troy

Virginia Crouchback Blackhouse Troy, a pleasure-loving, witty romantic beauty about thirty years old. She was divorced from Guy to take up with the dashing Tommy Blackhouse, then wedded an American. When Guy tries to seduce her, she is first charmed, then appalled.

Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook

Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook, the commander of Hazardous Offensive Operations. The one-eyed, irascible, impetuous commander emphasizes attacking (“biffing”). He leads a brigade to West Africa, where a disaster derails his career.

Officers and Gentlemen, 1955

Guy Crouchback

Guy Crouchback, who is now passive and dispirited. He serves first with the Commandos in Scotland and then with Hookforce in Egypt. He finally goes to Crete on an expedition that fails ignominiously. A thoroughly disillusioned Guy is sent back to England. All he has left is his personal sense of honor.

Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook

Brigadier Ben Ritchie-Hook, who is now the commander of Hookforce but is still irascible and reckless. He disappears flying over Africa.


Trimmer, a former trainee, revealed as having been a hairdresser named Gustave. He is now a Scottish officer named McTavish. For publicity purposes, he leads a foolish military raid that is puffed up by the press. Trimmer becomes the lower-class hero the nation wants.

Virginia Crouchback Blackhouse Troy

Virginia Crouchback Blackhouse Troy, who has become increasingly desperate. She sleeps with Trimmer and later, because she needs money, becomes his mistress.

Corporal-Major Ludovic

Corporal-Major Ludovic, a man of mystery in his mid-thirties. He writes. He deserts on Crete and is perhaps a murderer. He saves Guy’s life.

Unconditional Surrender, 1961

Guy Crouchback

Guy Crouchback, who continues to serve dutifully. Although he wishes to die, he looks for positive acts. He is staying with his uncle Peregrine when Virginia tells him that she is pregnant by Trimmer. He marries her for her unborn child’s sake. Although they have a tender month together, he is unmoved by her death. In the Balkans, he meets Mme Kanyi, a leader of some Jewish refugees, and learns how wrong his motives have been. He is further disillusioned when he discovers that his kindness probably led to her death. After the war, he marries Domenica Plessington, and they live on the old Crouchback property and care for their children as well as for Virginia’s baby.

Gervase Crouchback

Gervase Crouchback, Guy’s father, who dies. Many people attend his funeral.

Peregrine Crouchback

Peregrine Crouchback, Guy’s uncle, an innocent man who is a bachelor and a Catholic. He invites Guy to stay with him. He has a memorable dinner with Virginia and is killed by a bomb.


Trimmer, who is increasingly known as a war hero. He inspires the “Sword of Stalingrad.” He falls in love with Virginia, who keeps him happy for patriotic appearances. His trip to America for propaganda purposes fails miserably, and he disappears.

Virginia Crouchback Blackhouse Troy

Virginia Crouchback Blackhouse Troy, Guy’s former...

(The entire section is 431 words.)


(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Pryce-Jones, David, ed. Evelyn Waugh and His World, 1973.

Stannard, Martin, ed. Evelyn Waugh: The Critical Heritage, 1984.

Sykes, Christopher. Evelyn Waugh: A Biography, 1975.

Waugh, Evelyn. The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, 1976. Edited by Michael Davie.