Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 52

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Chapter 52

In which Lord Steyne shows himself in a most amiable Light

  • Let's take a few steps back in time again.
  • It seems that Lord Steyne has really been on a mission to clear everyone out of Becky's house. What could he possibly be up to?
  • The first thing he does is use his political clout to get Rawdon Jr. a spot at prestigious boarding school.
  • Rawdon is upset at the idea of his son going away. He can't deny that education is important, but Rawdon Jr. is really his only friend and companion in life.
  • When Rawdon tries to tell Becky about his feelings, she just mocks him. So Rawdon talks about his son with Lady Jane instead.
  • Not surprisingly, Becky isn't that sad to see Rawdon Jr. go. Briggs is the one who packs up his things, and Briggs and Rawdon hang out together afterwards crying and talking about the boy.
  • Rawdon Jr. does very well in school. It helps that he is clearly highly connected (since Lord Steyne is the one who got him into the place) and that he is a good-looking, happy kid.
  • He tells his father all about his classmates, and Rawdon brags about his son's achievements to his friends. Becky finds all of this ridiculous and starts to find Rawdon contemptible.
  • OK, so that's person one out of the house.
  • Person two is Briggs.
  • Lord Steyne realizes that Becky must not have paid Briggs back with the money he gave her. He talks to Briggs and she tells him the real amount Becky owes her (only half of what she asked Steyne for). Steyne decides Rawdon must be behind the lie. When he confronts Becky about it, she also tells him she was just following her horrible husband's orders.
  • What Steyne doesn't suspect is that Rawdon knows nothing about anything, and that Becky is keeping the money in a secret place for herself.
  • Finally, Steyne has a better idea. The Steynes of course have an estate in the country. They don't go there often – once every two years or so – and the housekeeper there is getting very old. He offers Briggs the chance to replace her. This is an amazing offer, since it would basically take care of all of Brigg's needs for the rest of her life.
  • Briggs is thrilled and asks only that Rawdon Jr. be allowed to visit her.
  • When Rawdon tells Lady Jane and Pitt about this offer, they are surprised, suspicious, and worried.
  • Becky's moment is the sun is already starting to cloud over. All her flirting is starting to be noticed and more and more rumors are swirling around her, damaging her reputation.
  • Jane thinks a woman as full of life as Becky cannot go to parties alone, and so if Briggs isn't with her any more, then Rawdon needs to step up and be with her all the time.
  • Rawdon does just that.
  • He stops going to his club, stops going to see his friends, and instead starts going everywhere with Becky. If she is invited out by herself, he makes her decline the invitation.
  • Becky actually seems surprisingly happy about Rawdon's sudden concern for her. She smiles at him, is nice to him, kisses him and generally acts very loving towards him. Rawdon decides he was suspicious about nothing, since she clearly loves him and just needs to be with people out in society, which isn't such a crime.
  • The only problem, Rawdon decides, is to figure out how to make her like Rawdon Jr. a little bit more.
  • It's in this state of mind that he is arrested for debts.

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