A Thoughtful Thinking-Through of the Thoroughly Enjoyable "Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day"
by Portia & Desdemona
Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day follows the trials and triumphs of Miss Guinevere Pettigrew on her day spent as a companion to Delicia LaFosse, a struggling actress. Miss Pettigrew is a prim middle-aged woman, the daughter of a clergyman, who is the quintessential strait-laced turn-of-the-century woman. Delicia, on the other hand, is living the life of a young starlet trying to make her way to stage stardom-using any and every means available. In contrast to Miss Pettigrew, Delicia's morals reside decidedly in the "non-existent" category. Although Delicia's silly little runnings about are portrayed with tongue-in-cheek and a little wink, they are, to be candid, decidedly immoral. She's giving herself away in order to get ahead in the world. And the justifications she uses are basically "well, everybody's doing it." Miss Pettigrew doesn't approve at all, she remonstrates Delicia, telling her: "Love is not a game."
The many faces of Delicia.
The fact is, Delicia herself knows that what she's doing is wrong. She simply doesn't have the moral muscle to change herself. As Mitch Albom writes in Tuesdays With Morrie, "The culture we have does not make people feel good about themselves. And you have to be strong enough to say if the culture doesn't work, don't buy it." (42) - Morrie Delicia on her own does not have that strength. But, with the helpful influence of Miss Pettigrew, she finds the moral backbone she lacks.
And, on the flipside, Miss Pettigrew needs Delicia. Miss Pettigrew is told to "loosen up" on several occasions. Miss Pettigrew is a strong, moral woman. But a woman who has confused moral strength with severity. Delicia has confused freedom and joy with doing whatever the heck she wants. Miss Pettigrew is lacking love and warmth; Delicia is lacking love and strength. But, by the end of the day, Miss Pettigrew and Delicia has forged a friendship which has allowed these women to share their love, warmth, and strength.
"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things." (43) --Morrie (Tuesdays With Morrie)