Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 30

By William Makepeace Thackeray

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Chapter 30

'The Girl I left behind Me'

  • So this chapter is all about how the different women we've come to know prepare for their men going away to the army. Always remember: whenever you see a bunch of characters doing a similar action, the author wants you to compare and contrast.
  • Let's see. First, we get the O'Dowds. The Major is calm and relaxed. He didn't go the ball, so he gets to bed at an early hour after telling his wife to wake him up at 1 in the morning.
  • While he sleeps, Mrs. O'Dowd packs all his things, puts snacks and drinks in his uniform pockets, gets his clothing ready, and makes him coffee and a good breakfast. She puts her emotions away until after he's gone, since there'll be "time enough for that, when Mick's gone" (30.4).
  • Because of all this prep work, the Major looks relaxed on horseback when it's time to go, and so he keeps up troop morale.
  • After he leaves, Mrs. O'Dowd gets out a big book of religious sermons and reads them.
  • So that's the O'Dowds. Not so much figures of fun anymore, are they?
  • Moving on, we get the Crawleys.
  • Rawdon is much more emotional than Becky at the idea of separation. He's really in love with her, and worries about her financial well-being (and that of his kid, since she might well be pregnant) if he were to get killed. Still, she fakes a tear or two to keep up appearances.
  • Rawdon spends his packing time itemizing all of his possessions and their value to see how much Becky could sell everything for. There's some jewelry, some trinkets, his new army uniform (he wears a beat-up one to the front), and, most importantly, three horses.
  • After he leaves, Becky takes off her ball clothes, freshens up in the mirror, then goes to sleep. Then she wakes up, has breakfast, and goes over all the possessions again, seeing that if she had to sell everything, she would have six or seven hundred pounds to live off of. Not bad for a clever person like her.
  • OK, now for the Osbornes.
  • Dobbin comes by in the morning to say good-bye, ostensibly. Really he just wants to looks at Amelia before he leaves. Also, he wakes up Jos and makes him promise to take financial care of Amelia if anything happens to George. Jos is a really generous guy, so he readily promises.
  • Dobbin hangs around some more and finally gets a glimpse of Amelia.
  • She is pale, disturbed, and crazy looking. She doesn't know how to help packing, so she just follows George around with a military sash that she picked up.
  • Finally George takes Amelia back in the bedroom and comes out by himself.
  • George is all psyched up for going to war and goes away without much thought for Amelia (though with a little shame).

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