Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 54

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Chapter 54

Sunday after the Battle

  • It's now morning, and Rawdon stumbles into Pitt and Lady Jane's mansion. He tries to read the paper in Pitt's study but is too crazed to make out the words.
  • Pitt comes downstairs and is alarmed to see his disheveled brother (who still hasn't changed out of his party clothes).
  • Rawdon tells him that it's all over. At first Pitt thinks he's talking about money and starts a long speech about how he doesn't have any to give to his brother.
  • Rawdon interrupts and in fits and starts tell Pitt what happened. For insulting an aristocrat and physically assaulting him, the only recourse to restore honor is a duel. Rawdon is expecting a challenge from Lord Steyne any moment.
  • Then Rawdon tearfully asks his brother to promise to take care of Rawdon Jr. if anything should happen. After all, Lady Jane is more of a mother to him than Becky.
  • Pitt is deeply moved and makes a solemn promise.
  • Rawdon hurries off to Lord Steyne's mansion. He hands the servant a card with the address of his club, still assuming that Steyne will send a challenge to him that day.
  • Finally he goes to his club.
  • There he finds an old friend, Captain Macmurdo, and asks him to be his second in the duel.
  • (Brain Snack: each duelist designates a second to make the logistical arrangements and frequently other decisions on his behalf. The idea is that someone about to duel is not in the right state of mind to make rational choices, which is probably true.)
  • Macmurdo has done this before, so he's game. He asks whether it's about debts.
  • When Rawdon tells him that it's about his wife, Macmurdo is entirely unsurprised. Actually, he says he's shocked it's taken Rawdon this long to catch on to Becky's doings.
  • Macmurdo is kind of floored to hear that the challenger will be a Marquis and wonders if there's a way to settle the problem peacefully. After all, Rawdon doesn't have definitive proof that anything actually happened and that Becky did anything wrong.
  • Rawdon won't hear it.
  • He sends a servant to his old house to get some clothes together. After a while the man comes back and says the people at the house won't give him Rawdon's clothes and that the house is in a state of total chaos.
  • Macmurdo tells Rawdon to forget about it and gives him some of his own clothes, since they are about the same size.

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