Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Chiswick Mall

  • The Sedleys' coach comes to pick Amelia Sedley up from Miss Pinkerton's school. She just graduated. Woo-hoo! Mortarboard in the air!
  • Miss Pinkerton sends her on her way with a nice letter (a kind of old-timey report card) about what a nice young lady she is, her bill, a fancy dictionary, and a note saying that her friend Becky Sharp is also graduating and is coming to the Sedleys to visit, but can't stay longer than ten days since she's supposed to be starting work as a governess.
  • Jemima, Miss Pinkerton's weaker, stupider sister offers to give Becky a dictionary too, but Miss Pinkerton isn't having any of it. Turns out Becky wasn't paying tuition but was instead working as a teacher's aide to go to the school. Miss Pinkerton is not a fan of the poor.
  • Everyone falls all over themselves to say goodbye to Amelia. She is lovely and wonderful, though the narrator manages to make fun of her by saying that not only is she actually not the heroine of the novel, but that "her nose was rather short than otherwise, and her cheeks a great deal too round" and that she is "a silly thing" who only has two reactions to anything that happens – laughing or crying (1.26).
  • Becky says good-bye to Miss Pinkerton in French, making fun of the fact that the old woman cannot speak it. Back in the day, not knowing French was low-class, so Becky is rubbing it in.
  • Finally the two girls are in the carriage and Jemima gives them some sandwiches for the road and hands Becky a dictionary that she has somehow managed to sneak out of the school.
  • Becky laughs and flings the dictionary out of the carriage onto the ground.

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