Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 55

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Chapter 55

In which the same Subject is pursued

  • Meanwhile, after lying in bed a little bit, Becky comes around and rings the bell to summon her maid. Nothing happens. She rings again and again, until finally she rips the bell rope out of the wall.
  • It turns out that the maid, realizing that the household was probably about to be bankrupt, had already taken as many valuables as she could, packed her bags, and left.
  • Becky walks out of her room and goes downstairs. There she sees the cook and the other servants sitting around in the drawing room, drinking wine with the Raggleses.
  • Becky at first acts scandalized by the fact that they are not answering her rings, sitting down in her presence, getting drunk, and all manner of other things.
  • The drunken footman totally tells her off.
  • The other servants join in. They tell Becky that this isn't her house anyway, that her husband is most likely not coming back, and that she never took care of her son. It's hard to have live-in servants – they tend to know everything about you.
  • Becky tries to maintain her dignity and says that Rawdon just got a great job. She gets dressed and says she's going to go out to find him. Privately she hopes it's not too late to salvage the situation.
  • Becky goes to Pitt's house. He is shocked to see her, but she immediately starts to tell him that she is not guilty. He is also surprised by an announcement he saw in the paper.
  • Becky confirms it – Rawdon has just been appointed governor of Coventry Island, a small island that is part of the British Empire. It's a very impressive post that pays about three thousand pounds a year.
  • Becky tells Pitt her version of events, which is basically that she flirted with Lord Steyne but never went past that, and all the time was just trying to get a good job for Rawdon out of him.
  • Pitt buys this story, and Becky kneels and kisses his hand.
  • Lady Jane walks in and sees them like this.
  • To the shock and surprise of everyone, including herself probably, Lady Jane busts out with a long, amazing speech about what a horrid monster Becky is and how if Pitt has anything more to do with her, Lady Jane is going to take their children and move out of the house. Becky is too unclean and immoral to exist in the same space with, Lady Jane says, then leaves the room.
  • Becky goes away, but first Pitt promises to go see Rawdon to try to patch things up between them.
  • Meanwhile, at the club, Rawdon is getting ready and having some dinner when some of the other club members come up and congratulate him on his appointment. They've seen it in the paper too.
  • Rawdon is totally floored by the newspaper article. While he's still in shock, Mr. Wenham comes in to see him.
  • Rawdon assumes that Wenham is Steyne's second and wants to leave him and Macmurdo to work out the details, but Wenham wants nothing of the sort.
  • Wenham is there to do the opposite – to smooth things over so that there is no duel. He's a really good, silver-tongued lawyer with an answer for everything. The general version of events he tells is that actually, Becky invited him and Mrs. Wenham over that night too, not just Lord Steyne. But sadly, Mrs. Wenham had a headache so they couldn't come. So it was all totally innocent. His other story is that Steyne really desperately wants to fight this duel, but that Wenham managed to calm him down and get him to not issue a challenge.
  • Rawdon isn't buying any of this baloney.
  • But then again, he doesn't have proof that any of it is not true.
  • Still, Rawdon says that if Steyne doesn't issue a challenge, then he himself will. Macmurdo tells him to sit down and shut up and accept the peaceful resolution of the fight. Macmurdo shows Wenham out and gives him back the thousand-pound check that Rawdon took from Becky.
  • Just then Pitt arrives at the club. He tries his best to get Rawdon to give Becky another chance.
  • No dice.
  • The upshot of all of this? Well, Rawdon takes the job on the island. Becky disappears to no-one-knows where. Raggles is seized and put in jail for his debts. And little Rawdon Jr. is taken in by his aunt and uncle. (Coventry Island is too difficult to live on for a little kid). Rawdon sends him letters and newspaper clippings about himself.

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