Major Barbara is the story of young Miss Barbara Undershaft, a major in the Salvation Army and estranged daughter to the wealthy military tycoon Andrew Undershaft. She is morally at odds with her father's belief that eliminating poverty justifies selling weapons on the open market to raise funds. But she finds even her own Salvation Army shelter cannot support itself without generous donations from both her father and the whisky distiller Bodger.
George Bernard Shaw has given us a play that shows several alternatives to deal with poverty and violence, none of which seem attractive. The technique is typical of the philosopher-playwright, who often points out the untenable logic of our social morality, but gives us no hint how we may resolve it. Such artistry won him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926 and the admiration of audiences in both his time and our own.