Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 46

By William Makepeace Thackeray

Chapter 46

Struggles and Trials

  • The Sedleys have a household income of about 200 pounds a year, which should be enough to keep the four of them (Mr. & Mrs. Sedley, Amelia, and George Jr.) comfortable.
  • Amelia scrimps and saves to try to dress George Jr. in the kind of fancy clothes she thinks George's son should be wearing.
  • George is old enough now to go to school, so Amelia sends him to Mr. Binny's school. He does well there, though she is sad to no longer be with him all day.
  • If you haven't figured it out, Amelia lives only for George Jr. She keeps all his papers and worksheets and knows everything about his classmates.
  • Meanwhile, Maria Osborne grows more and more obnoxious and more and more estranged from her father – and his money.
  • Jane Osborne thinks often about George Jr. and wants to see him more. Sometimes she does at the Dobbins' house.
  • Mr. Osborne starts to think seriously about George Jr. too.
  • One day, when George Jr. comes back from the Dobbins', he tells Amelia that he saw an old man there with thick eyebrows and large chains.
  • Amelia realizes this must have been Mr. Osborne, and she readies herself for what's coming next.
  • She's right to be worried. Osborne sends her an offer proposing that she send George Jr. to go live with him. In return, George Jr. will inherit the Osborne money, but she will only be allowed to see him infrequently.
  • Amelia flips out and orders the messenger who brought the offer out of the house.
  • Her parents don't notice that she is going slightly crazy. They have their own issues.
  • Mr. Sedley, who keeps investing in failing ventures, is constantly losing money.
  • Also, it seems that Jos has stopped paying the annual allowance that he had been sending to his parents.
  • The cutting back is at first sort of annoying. Amelia tells George Jr. that he can no longer get new clothes for Christmas, like she had been promising. He flips out, whines, and cries.
  • Amelia feels terrible and goes to the pawn shop to sell her last nice thing – a shawl from India that Dobbin sent her.
  • With the money from that, she buys George Jr. books and clothes and is happy.
  • But when she gets home, Mrs. Sedley sees all the new things and loses it. They have a big fight. Mrs. Sedley accuses Amelia of spoiling George Jr. and tells her they are completely bankrupt.
  • The Sedleys fall behind on their bills and start to eat so poorly that Amelia notices that George Jr. is not getting enough food.
  • She realizes that she might be being selfish in not giving him up to go live in wealth and comfort with Mr. Osborne.
  • It's super sad, guys. It's OK if you need to take a few minutes.

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