Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

The Green Silk Purse

  • A few days later, Jos comes back. In the meantime, Becky has ingratiated herself into the Sedley family and household (remember, it's not just the Sedleys who live in the big London house – they have a small army of servants too).
  • Becky demurely flirts with Jos, going so far as to actually (OK, prepare to be shocked) squeeze his hand slightly.
  • Amelia suggests spending an evening at Vauxhall, a kind of park with music, cafes, and other entertainment. Mr. Sedley wants Jos to chaperone the ladies, but also thinks they should invite George Osborne to go with them. Amelia is a little swoony at this idea.
  • In bed that night, Mr. and Mrs. Sedley discuss the idea of Becky marrying Jos, and decide basically that better her than an Indian girl. (Casual and open racism was a common thing back then.)
  • The next night there is a huge thunderstorm, so Vauxhall is put off. Instead, Amelia, George, Jos, and Becky hang out at home by themselves. There is some piano playing and singing (note that Becky is always really, really good at any kind of performing). There is some flirting and extremely mild hanky-panky. We're guessing Amelia and George maybe kiss a little when they go off by themselves into a darkened room with no candle.
  • Turns out George is the son of a very old family friend, and he and Amelia have basically been raised to eventually marry each other. So it's helpful that they are also in love.
  • Meanwhile, Becky draws out Jos, as much as he can be drawn out. He's really an ungainly, socially inept fellow. But he's starting to really be into Becky. And why not? She's hot and is basically throwing herself at him.
  • Becky makes everyone feel sad about the fact that she has to leave to go be a governess. Everything seems to be working according to plan, and she thinks that the next morning Jos will propose.
  • The next morning, Jos does not propose.
  • However, what does happen is this: Becky is knitting a green purse (just like in the chapter title!) and gets Jos to help her hold the skein of silk yarn by winding it around his arms until he is tied up and can't move. Symbolism alert: Becky is a spider, and Jos is caught in her silk web! OK, everyone can sit back down now and take a deep breath.

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