“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.

Sayer’s “Whose Body?”: Romanticized Crime

“A grey suit, I fancy, neat but not gaudy, with a hat to tone, suits my other self better. Exit the amateur of first editions; new motive introduced by solo bassoon; enter Sherlock Holmes, disguised as a walking gentleman” (Sayer 13)

Sayers, Dorothy L. Whose Body?. New York, Harper & Brothers, 1923.

The reference to Sherlock Holmes and his concern for his appearance to a crime site indicates that Lord Peter idealizes being a detective—being just like Sherlock Holmes. It implies that he holds more interest dressing and acting as the role of an investigator character.

Sayers, “Whose Body?” Topic: Mysteries and Social Problems

“Everybody Ishmaels together- though I don’t suppose Sir Reuben would like to be called that, would he? Doesn’t it mean illegitimate, or not a proper Jew, anyway? I always did get confused with those Old Testament characters” (Sayers 58).

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

“Ishmaels”- reference to story of Abraham and Sarah, city as full of enemies, social problems within Jewish communities, labeling Jewish characters