Study Guide

Vanity Fair Chapter 8

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Chapter 8

Private and Confidential

  • This chapter is a letter that Becky writes to Amelia, describing life at Queen's Crawley.
  • On the way to this big estate, Sir Pitt talks to one of his groundskeepers about the various tenants on his land (farmers who are basically sharecroppers), various ongoing lawsuits, and the general upkeep of a large country estate.
  • Becky learns that Sir Pitt has a younger brother, Bute Crawley, who is the local parson. (Families that owned huge pieces of land usually also owned the churches on that land, and traditionally, younger sons – who would not inherit the land or the money – would go into the Church to get appointed to these parsonages.)
  • At night, Sir Pitt enforces a strict lights-out policy and takes away Becky's candle to save money. His cheapness is made funnier by the fact that the mansion on the estate is enormous, with twenty bedrooms.
  • Turns out the Crawley family is complex. Sir Pitt is on his second marriage. He has two sons from his first: Mr. Pitt Crawley (called Mr. Crawley), and a dragoon (a kind of soldier) whom we have not yet met. He also has two daughters from his second marriage. These are the girls Becky will be teaching; they are eight and ten years old.
  • At dinner there is a minor scuffle as Mr. Crawley insists on calling all the sad, poor food by its French names for the sake of fanciness and propriety, and his father speaks in his Hampshire accent just to provoke him. Mr. Crawley is kind of a priss.
  • Meanwhile, Lady Crawley is a sickly, sad woman, whom Sir Pitt clearly only married for her looks, which are now gone. Becky instantly sees that Lady Crawley has no power or authority in the house and disregards her.
  • The two Misses Crawley – Becky's students – are almost totally wild and uncivilized, since no one cares enough to deal with them. They mostly like to run around outside and climb on things.
  • Here the letter ends.
  • The narrator makes a little warning. Becky seems amusing and likeable now, but don't get too attached. There's going to be some drama, some crimes, and some horrendous behavior later.

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