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Vanity Fair
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Archived 2011 Group Reads > Vanity Fair 14: Chapters 47–50

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message 1: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) It's sure been a hot one here...lots of staying inside to read! How did this section go for you this week?


Juliette I think chapter 47 or 48 (the one where Becky get's the money from Lord Steyne and then only pays half her debts while hoarding the rest) is the one where I put the book away for weeks, Becky just had to go away for a while.

But now I've come back to find poor Amelia sending Georgy away. I can't blame her, and I don't think the little man will be wanting for love, but having a little boy of my own the idea broke my heart. And her father! HER FATHER! Last section I wanted to smack her mother, now I want to smack her father for selling Jos's funds for another one of his failing ideas. Vanity Fair indeed!


Shea As I once felt I needed a chart for the Crawleys I am now feeling the same about the Gaunts/Steynes/Bareacres. I understand Thackeray needs to set up Steyne because Rebecca has him in her sights but I really do not want to learn about anyone new. I care little for the characters I already know. I do enjoy Thackeray's creative names for the characters. My favorite from this section is "Lady Castlemouldy."
I really feel for Amelia having to give Georgy up to give him a "better" life and I am beyond angry at her father for his selfishness. Hopefully Amelia's love and early upbringing will help Georgy grow into a better man than his father was.


message 4: by Bob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob Shea wrote: "As I once felt I needed a chart for the Crawleys I am now feeling the same about the Gaunts/Steynes/Bareacres. I understand Thackeray needs to set up Steyne because Rebecca has him in her sights b..."

Yeah, I had to read that chapter twice before I got any sense of who Lady Gaunt is. The first time, my eyes completely glazed over. My current understanding is that Lord Steyne has two sons, one of whom (George) has been committed to an insane asylum, and the other of whom is either dead or away somewhere. Lady Steyne is Lord Steyne's wife, and Lady Gaunt is George's wife. That's all I know.


message 5: by Bob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob It's interesting how, as Becky "progresses" through English society, the preoccupations of the characters surrounding her have changed. In the Crawleys' world, everybody was obsessed with how to get more money. In Steyne's world, everyone is obsessed with social status.


Ellen Librarian (ellenlibrarian) | 164 comments Thank you for the explanation Shea. I could not figure out who Lady Gaunt was, either.

When I was studying fiction writing, I was taught never to have two characters with similar names or even the same initials. This book is a textbook example of why, at least for me. It wasn't until someone broke down the Crawley family that I realized there were two Pitt Crawleys.

Anyway, it seems to me Thackeray could have told the story just as well with fewer characters or at least fewer characters of the same or similar names - and not sacrificed his page count.

Maybe people were better able to retain what they read back in the day when the novel first came out.


Shea Bob wrote: "Shea wrote: "As I once felt I needed a chart for the Crawleys I am now feeling the same about the Gaunts/Steynes/Bareacres. I understand Thackeray needs to set up Steyne because Rebecca has him in..."

Bob, you are more dedicated than I. I never would have read the chapter twice. Thank you for the clarification. I am also having trouble because in a lot of what I read people have two names. They have their surname and then their title attached to their lands. I kept thinking Gaunt was the surname and Steyne is the title attached to the land. Which may also be the case but there are still more characters than I was thinking there were. Either way I wasn't interested enough to really try to figure it out. Shame on me, or I guess shame on Thackeray, that he hasn't induced me to care enough.


Ellen Librarian (ellenlibrarian) | 164 comments Oops, it's Bob I owe the thanks to.

I also couldn't read the chapter twice. I figured I'd be able to know what happened even without differentiating each character - and it seemed to be working well enough, though I was glad to find out what I'd missed.

I guess Cliff Notes would come in handy here.


Juliette Reading Historical fiction is bad too because so many people named their children after royalty, there's usually 6 different people all named "William" or "Henry" and another six named "Maude". Historically, that's how it went and Thackeray was just going with the flow instead of using his "poetic license" to change it around and make it easier for the reader.

But I agree with Shea, I didn't care enough to spend too much time on it either.


Amanda Yes indeed! Poor poor Amelia.

The woman who loves and cares for (or, perhaps you'd better read smothers) her child is forced to give him up despite her pain at being parted from him because she knows he could have a better life elsewhere.

Selfish Becky, however, could not give two hoots for poor little Rawdy and can't seem to wait to get rid of him.

Yet again Thackery gives us an example of 'well, thats life, folks'.


message 11: by Everyman (new) - added it

Everyman | 885 comments Amanda wrote: "Yes indeed! Poor poor Amelia.

... Yet again Thackeray gives us an example of 'well, thats life, folks'.
"


Well, at least life in Vanity Fair. That's one thing we may want discuss now, or may want to wait until we get nearer the end (or both). How much is this book fantasy and how much is it realistic? Becky at one point in these (or previous -- I'm only up to 49) chapters mentioned that it was ten years since Waterloo. Is it really possible that they could keep on stiffing creditors for ten years, and live comfortably on virtually nothing? (Or, at least, eight or nine years, since Steyne now is forking over money.) I can see that game going on for a year or two, but for ten years? Was she getting money from other wealthy men that we haven't met at all? If so, Thackeray isn't playing fair with us. If not, how long really could they keep living on credit alone?


Amanda Everyman wrote: "Well, at least life in Vanity Fair. That's one thing we may want discuss now, or may want to wait until we get nearer the end (or both). How much is this book fantasy and how much is it realistic?..."

A good point Everyman. I was puzzled by the timing too. Would your household staff really have been happy for you to go years without paying them their dues?

Perhaps everything is grosly exaggerated for comedic value, but still Thackery seems to be driving at something whenever he mentions 'vanity fair' directly. I'm sure the readers of the time would have caught glimmers of their own society at the bottom of the farce.

Thackery isn't playing fair! He's giving his readers the sensational stories they love to gossip about, all the scandal and the emotional angles without worrying too much for accuracy.


Wendy Did anyone "catch" the part in Chapter 48 "The Very Best of Company", where Becky is presented at Court, accompanied by the sleazy Lord Thayne? Thackeray is at his most subtle, (correct me if any of you disagree), but it appears that Becky got busy with the King George III, aka Imperial Master, First Gentleman in Europe, etc. Skankfest.

Another clever Biblical allusion in the last paragraph of Chapter 50...... the widow's mite. Loved these chapters!


Catherine (catsmeeow) I joined this group after the Vanity Fair discussion started so I have been playing catch up and reading the discussions as I go along. I'm finally almost caught up!

I have to agree that I was extremely disgusted with Amelia's father. I feel terrible for Amelia and wonder if things would have turned out better for her if she had some of the scheming qualities of Becky so that she could hustle up some money or charm people into believing she would pay off debts in order to keep Georgy.


Amanda Wendy wrote: "Did anyone "catch" the part in Chapter 48 "The Very Best of Company", where Becky is presented at Court, accompanied by the sleazy Lord Thayne? Thackeray is at his most subtle, (correct me if any of you disagree), but it appears that Becky got busy with the King George III, aka Imperial Master..."

You know what, it didn't strike me that way at first, but I looked back at it and you may be right! Thackery doesn't tell us what, if anything, Becky managed to get out of the 'encounter' and it's hard to imagine Becky expending any effort without payoff, but it certainly seems she goes there.


Bookworm Adventure Girl (bookwormadventuregirl) Shea wrote: "As I once felt I needed a chart for the Crawleys I am now feeling the same about the Gaunts/Steynes/Bareacres. I understand Thackeray needs to set up Steyne because Rebecca has him in her sights b..."

I loved castlemouldy too! Did a double take on it and had a good laugh!


Bookworm Adventure Girl (bookwormadventuregirl) Amanda wrote: "Yes indeed! Poor poor Amelia.

The woman who loves and cares for (or, perhaps you'd better read smothers) her child is forced to give him up despite her pain at being parted from him because s..."


My heart broke for Amelia. Thackery does a good job of showing us Amelia's love for her son and it is definitely contrasted with Becky and how much she ignores hers. I do hope that all works out for Amelia in the long run though...


Bookworm Adventure Girl (bookwormadventuregirl) Amanda wrote: "Everyman wrote: "Well, at least life in Vanity Fair. That's one thing we may want discuss now, or may want to wait until we get nearer the end (or both). How much is this book fantasy and how much ..."

I wondered about this as well. Ten years does seem like a long time and I know that in this day and age no one would stick around if they weren't getting paid. I wonder if it is another way for Thackery to show us how Becky takes things and people for granted and unfortunately gets away with it too!


Deana (ablotial) Rebecca wrote: "Y'know, I sometimes wonder if the digressions where Thackeray goes into the background and family of a side character (like Lord Steyne in Ch. 47) are just his way of padding the story."

This is what I just came to write about ... It took me FOREVER to get through chapter 47. I kept starting it, being like, "WHY do I care about this guy have we even heard of him before?!" and getting annoyed and putting it down.

But now that I've read chapter 48 I understand better. I think it could have been done better, though ...

I was really surprised that Sir Pitt gave Becky those jewels. I mean, I knew he was starting to like her but that seems a bit ridiculous! Especially knowing she would probably have reason to wear them in front of his own wife. Wow. And that Becky took that cloth to make her dress... another reason not to like her so much... though clearly it had been forgotten and would have just sat in that trunk gathering dust for who knows how long.

I've only read through ch. 48 so far, so I am avoiding reading the other posts in this thread. Hoping to get through the remaining chapters in this section today and I'll come back and type more.


Wendy Deana.....you've got to catch up to us!!! It's getting SO good :) Will not disappoint!


Deana (ablotial) I've finished reading this section and just finished chapter 51 as well. I don't have too much to add to this discussion - I also feel badly for Amelia giving up her son, and fear for his behavior and attitude. But I do think she made the right choice in the end (but maybe I will turn out to be wrong).

I am impressed with Becky moving up in society, but I do feel bad for Rawdon because he seems to be getting left behind.

I agree -- 10 years of living on nothing at all seems a bit improbable to me, but my guess is they were able to pay JUST ENOUGH of their bills with Rawdon's winnings from gambling to be able to keep their creditors happy. Or just as the cook wants to leave, they give the cook a quarter of what they owe. So then the cook sticks around in case more comes.


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