Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 44

By William Makepeace Thackeray

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Chapter 44

A Roundabout Chapter between London and Hampshire

  • In London Becky is in charge of redecorating the Crawley family's Gaunt Street house. She loves this job, which plays to her artistic and creative abilities.
  • When young Sir Pitt comes to town, she meets him and invites him to stay at her house while the Gaunt Street house is being worked on.
  • She sings to him, compliments him, sucks up to him, and even very mildly flirts with him. He is definitely into it.
  • However, whenever Becky brings up the question of money, young Sir Pitt gets defensive and nervous and launches into long speeches about how broke he actually is because of all the house and estate restorations.
  • Becky has low expectations of everyone, so she doesn't let this bother her too much.
  • Meanwhile, she uses the fact that Rawdon and young Sir Pitt seem to have made up to get even more credit from all the tradesmen. She also tells Briggs that Sir Pitt wants to help Briggs invest her small savings better. Briggs gets all excited and takes her money out of the funds it was in.
  • Rawdon Jr. is now about 8. He loves Lord Southdown (Lady Jane's brother, who bought him a pony), Molly the cook, Briggs (who has ended up being his de facto nanny), and most of all his father.
  • He detests his mother, and Becky pretty much hates and resents him in return.
  • Of all the bad things Becky does throughout the course of the book, this lack of maternal instinct is shown to be the most horrible.
  • For instance, one day when Becky is singing to Lord Steyne, Rawdon Jr. comes out of his room and listens on the stairs. When Becky sees him, she runs up and hits him.
  • This is when the all the servants start gossiping about and passing judgment on her, her relationship with Lord Steyne, and how awful she is to Rawdon Jr.
  • The assumption is that she and Lord Steyne are having an affair. The novel does not make it clear whether they actually are or not. It doesn't really matter. What Thackeray is interested in is the perception of wrongdoing, not the actual bad behavior itself.
  • On the one hand, Becky's servants condemn her for her horrendous immorality.
  • On the other hand, the fact that Lord Steyne is there so much is what makes her tradesmen keep giving her credit. They assume that Lord Steyne is sleeping with her, and therefore he must be giving her lots of money.
  • So life goes on until Christmas, when Becky, Rawdon, and (because Lady Jane specifically invites him) Rawdon Jr. go to Queen's Crawley.
  • Rawdon and his son ride on the outside of the carriage and talk about everything and everyone they see. Rawdon Jr. loves the trip.
  • At Queen's Crawley, Pitt Binkie and Matilda take Rawdon Jr. around and they all get to be good friends.
  • Lady Jane really likes Rawdon Jr., who is a serious and gentlemanly sort of boy. While they are getting to know each other, Rawdon Jr. lets slip a few things that indicate to Jane just how neglected he actually is at home.

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