“Whose Body?” and Societal Obligations

“No, Bunter, I pay you £200 a year to keep your thoughts to yourself. Tell me, Bunter, in these democratic days, don’t you think that’s unfair?”

“No, my lord.”

“You don’t. D’you mind telling me frankly why you don’t think it unfair?”

“Frankly, my lord, your lordship is paid a nobleman’s income to take Lady Worthington in to dinner and refrain from exercising your lordship’s undoubted powers of repartee.”

Lord Peter considered this.

“That’s your idea, is it, Bunter? Noblesse oblige—for a consideration. I daresay you’re right. Then you’re better off than I am, because I’d have to behave myself to Lady Worthington if I hadn’t a penny.”

Sayers, Dorothy. Whose Body? 1923. Reprint, New York: Dover, 2009. isbn: 9780486473628.

This dialogue between Lord Peter and his butler, Bunter, highlights the idea of  role of the individual within society. Bunter essentially tells Lord Peter that they are the same; both are paid to fulfill social obligations and expectancies of them, and that it’s their ‘noblesse oblige’; or, the responsibility of privileged people to act with generosity and nobility toward those less privileged. It illustrates that, in a way, no one is different from each other as we all must play specific roles and parts within society, and that is simply how life is.

Sayers, “Whose Body?”: Mystery and Social Issues

” I am sorry,” she said , “ I’m afraid we can’t interfere in any way. This is a very unpleasant business,
Mr. – I’m afraid I didn’t catch your name, and we have always found it better not to be mixed up with the police. Of course , if the Thippses are innocent,
and I am sure I hope they are, it is very unfortunate for them , but I must say that the circumstances seem to me most suspicious, and to Theophilus too, and I
should not like to have it said that we had assisted murderers. Wemight even be supposed to be accessories. Of course you are young, Mr.- ” (51).

Sayers, Dorothy Leigh. Whose Body?. United Kingdom, Boni and Liveright, 1923.

This response from Mrs. Appledore shows how much they take pride in her family’s “respectable” reputation and wouldn’t want anything to muddle it. Any involvement with the police would do so, even if it were to help prove someone innocent.