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Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair

by William Makepeace Thackeray

Rawdon Crawley Timeline and Summary

  • Rawdon is born the second son of Sir Pitt Crawley.
  • He goes to Cambridge a few years after his brother, though he frequently beats him up while there.
  • After he is kicked out of college, his father buys him a commission in the army and he becomes an officer.
  • His lifestyle is rather wild – drinking, gambling, swearing, lots of women. Because of this wildness, he is the favorite of Miss Crawley, his very wealthy aunt.
  • When he meets Becky, he is immediately into her. A few months later, the two are secretly married in a private ceremony. Although they then follow Miss Crawley to Bath, she refuses to see her nephew and snubs him when she meets him in the street.
  • In Bath he perfects his skills at dice, billiards, and cards. He plays often with George Osborne and wins large sums of money from him.
  • The army goes abroad to fight Napoleon. Rawdon is the aide-de-camp of General Tufto, so does not fight on the front line with the regular troops (though he will see combat).
  • When he and Becky get to Brussels, she is the toast of the town, and Rawdon earns money for them by playing a lot of billiards with anyone who comes to see his wife.
  • As the soldiers receive their marching orders, Rawdon makes a list of his possessions, including his very valuable horses, to figure out how Becky will support herself if he were to be killed.
  • He is not killed.
  • Together Rawdon and Becky go to Paris. They cannot return to England because he has so many unpaid debts that he would go straight to prison. In Paris she gives birth to a son.
  • Miss Crawley and Sir Pitt die, and the inheritance, title, and lands all go to Rawdon's older brother Pitt. Becky cleverly writes a letter to Pitt pretending to be Rawdon to try to make peace. She also deals with his creditors so they can go back to England.
  • Rawdon returns to Queen's Crawley, now his brother's estate. He meets Jane, Pitt's wife, and is struck by her wonderful mothering skills. He is also impressed by his brother's abilities as a steward of his lands.
  • In London, as Becky is elevated to higher and higher echelons of society, Rawdon feels how distant the two are becoming from one another. He is not clever or educated enough to keep up with her, and he grows bored with this kind of social life. Rawdon spends most of his time either at the club or with his son.
  • Soon he accompanies his wife to meet the king of England at court.
  • As Jane and Pitt express some concerns about Becky's reputation, Rawdon decides once again to go with her to all her social functions. One of these is a huge party where they play charades. Rawdon participates, playing Agamemnon to Becky's Clytemnestra.
  • Right as he is leaving the party, Rawdon is arrested for debts and put in debtor's prison. The next morning he writes Becky a letter asking her to come get him out. She doesn't answer until that night, then says she is too ill to come. Rawdon immediately sends a note to Jane, who comes to get him right away.
  • When he gets back to his house, Rawdon walks in to find Becky and her patron Lord Steyne alone together. He beats up Steyne and expects the Lord to challenge him to a duel.
  • Instead, Steyne's lawyer Wenham convinces Rawdon to forget about the duel and accept an appointment that Steyne has secured for him as governor of a distant British island. It's a cushy gig.
  • Rawdon takes the governorship, pays Becky an allowance to stay away from him, leaves his son in Jane's care, and spends the rest of his life on the island.
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