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Vanity Fair
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Archived 2011 Group Reads > Vanity Fair 15: Chapters 51–53

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message 1: by Kristi (new)

Kristi (kristicoleman) I thought I'd post this thread early since I will be working tomorrow and probably not have time.

Only 4 more weeks!


message 2: by Bob (new) - rated it 4 stars

Bob All I can say about this installment is . . . wow!

I'm having a lot of trouble deciding how I'm going to rate this book. It's definitely not one of those books that I'll be sorry to get to the end of, or that I'll want to reread in a few years. On the other hand, I'm enjoying very much Thackeray's use of language, and, in an odd way, I'm also enjoying his merciless treatment of most of his characters. Definitely a one-of-a-kind book, and a great one. But I don't think a single number can do justice to how I feel about it.


Shea From Chapter 51:

Some things never change..."If every person is to be banished from society who runs into debt and cannot pay-if we are to be peering into everybody's private life, speculating upon their income, and cutting them if we don't approve of their expeditures-why, what a howling wilderness and intolerable dwelling Vanity Fair would be!
And thankfully some things do..."The black slave was given to Bedwin Sands by an Egyptian pasha in exchange for three dozen of Maraschino"
In case you were also wondering about the "Maraschino" and if it had anything to do with cherries, it does:
1791, "cherry liqueur," from It. maraschino, "strong, sweet liqueur made from juice of the marasca," a bitter black cherry, aphetic of amarasca, from amaro "bitter," from L. amarus "sour," from PIE base *om- "raw, bitter." Maraschino cherry, one preserved in real or imitation maraschino, first recorded 1820.

In Chapter 52 my sympathy for Rawdon Sr. again surfaced when he had such a difficult time with Rawdy leaving for school. Becky again infuriated me with her indifference to her son. I thought her particulary cold in her treatment of Rawdon also. "Becky burst out laughing once or twice when the Colonel, in his clumsy, incoherent way, tried to express his sentimental sorrows at the boy's departure." I am glad Rawdon at least has Lady Jane for a friend and that he finally has the nerve to walk out on Becky. She deserves it and I wonder how she will handle it.


Katherine (katats) I think chapter 53 is my favorite so far! I have enjoyed watching Becky manipulate the elite, but have been ready for real consequences for some time now. And I love how it first feels like Steyne is going to be the one to corner her, but Thackeray then allowed Rawdon the rare opportunity. Watching Rawdon mature is, at this point, the brightest part of the story for me.

Is anybody else distracted at this point by worries for Amelia and Dobbin? A hint of a reunion was dangled chapters ago, and then ignored! I am very ready for those two to have a real conversation and stop acting selfless.


Catherine (catsmeeow) Wow this section ended and I wanted to keep reading forward. It would be so difficult to be left on a cliff hanger if we were waiting for the next installment of this serial!!

When Rawdon and Becky first got married, I was rooting for them to have a happy ending and it has slowly unravelled into Becky just using Rawdon when she needs him. I also felt tons of sympathy for Rawdon Sr. He just seems like such a nice guy. When I read in chapter 51 that "Rawdon was scared at these triumphs. They seemed to separate his wife farther from him somehow. He thought with a feeling very like pain how immeasurable she was his superior." I thought it seemed to point towards an end to their relationship. In many of the discussion, readers have noticed the weakness of Becky and Rawdon's relationship but Rawdon only seemed upset by how Becky didn't care for their son. In this section, Thackeray often narrates Rawdon's feeling of inadequacy and unhappiness in the relationship


Juliette BUSTED!
Becky finally gets caught with her hand in the cookie jar, no husband, no money, no Steyne, what's a girl gonna do?

Thank goodness for Rawdon's friendship with Lady Jane, I would have disliked to read about him rotting away in jail.


message 7: by Ellen (last edited Jul 21, 2011 09:00PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ellen Librarian (ellenlibrarian) | 169 comments Why do I feel Becky will somehow figure out a way to land on her feet? I've got no clue how that might happen, however, though I do think there will be some kind of reunion with Amelia.


message 8: by Everyman (new) - added it

Everyman | 885 comments Bob wrote: "All I can say about this installment is . . . wow!"

Ditto.

The description of the charades was fascinating, yet I have read similar accounts in other books, and it does seem as though this was a favorite pasttime of the idle rich who in pre TV times had to find some way of getting through too much time and too much money.

I haven't much cared for Rawdon until this section, but his obvious attachment to his son, and his willingness to suffer to let the boy go to school for his betterment, touched me.

As to Chapter 53 -- it's a delight to see Becky at least momentarily confounded; will she find some way out of this?


message 9: by Everyman (new) - added it

Everyman | 885 comments Catherine wrote: "Wow this section ended and I wanted to keep reading forward. It would be so difficult to be left on a cliff hanger if we were waiting for the next installment of this serial!! "

That's a great comment. Imagine having to wait a full month to find out what is happening with these people!


message 10: by Everyman (new) - added it

Everyman | 885 comments Juliette wrote: "Thank goodness for Rawdon's friendship with Lady Jane, I would have disliked to read about him rotting away in jail. "

Obviously proving that blood is thicker than marriage vows.


Juliette I hope Becky doesn't squirm her way out of this. I am worried about Amelia, I can see Becky running straight towards her if everything else fails. And just when Amelia is most vulnerable with her child gone (so she's in need of affection, even if Becky's is false)and finally some breathing room with money (otherwise Becky wouldn't even bother).


Wendy This is getting SO good!!!! Have to say that the Steyne/Rawdon smackdown was a thriller - loved it!


Bookworm Adventure Girl (bookwormadventuregirl) I actually liked these chapters. Finally a bit of action and intrigue. Wendy, I love that you call it the Steyne/Rawdon Smackdown.... awesome!
I am so glad that I don't have to wait for the next chapters and I can carry on reading to find out how it all plays out. Like Ellen, I feel that Becky is going to manipulate her way into finding a way that it will all work out! However, I hope that Rawdon stands his ground!


Deana (ablotial) This has by far been my favorite section of this book.

Bob: I completely agree. Some parts of this book are way down in the 1 and 2 area. Other parts (like this one) I'd even give a 5 on their own. I do like how the author plays with the characters, but he also goes off on these tangents and I just stop caring.

Everyman: I also found the description of the charades fascinating. It seems the game has changed a lot since then - their version seemed much more complex than the game I grew up with. Also, I never did figure out the word/words they were acting out in their charades... Did it give the answer(s) in the book and I just missed it? If not, was anyone else able to guess?

Juliette: I am also concerned about Amelia for the same reason. I see Becky running right to her for help. But then, we do know that Amelia was disillusioned with Becky the last time they spent any real time together, so perhaps Amelia will do the right thing and refuse her old "friend."

I am liking Rawdon more and more. Though his letter was immensely amusing to read (especially compared with Becky's!), it made it clear the difference between the two and it's clear he really has some depth of feeling. I hope Steyne figures out that Rebecca is the problem and not Rawdon - it bothers me that he so unfairly pinned this all on the husband. I am very glad Rawdon finally found her stash and took off. I can't wait to see what happens next!


message 15: by Everyman (new) - added it

Everyman | 885 comments Deana wrote: "Everyman: I also found the description of the charades fascinating. It seems the game has changed a lot since then - their version seemed much more complex than the game I grew up with. Also, I never did figure out the word/words they were acting out in their charades... Did it give the answer(s) in the book and I just missed it? If not, was anyone else able to guess?"

They do actually give the answers, but you have to dig them out a bit.

The way they did charades then was with the little plays acting out first each syllable separately, then the whole word. The first one, the first scene they acted out was a Turkish Prince, or Aga. The second scene was an Ethiopian ruler, Memnon. (Here's a link to Memnon, who may not be known to most modern readers -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memnon (go to the Memnon (mythology) choice). These put together make Agamemnon; that was the final scene they acted out, Becky playing the part of Clytemnestra killing Agamemnon on his return from the Trojan War.

The second charade, the first syllable is night, shown in scenes of nighttime. The second scene shows happenings at, as one guest says, a hotel, or more accurately the second syllable of Inn (In). The third syllable is a ship in a gale, syllable gale. The total charade again features Becky in the prime role, that of the nightingale, which is both she singing and the bird in the song.

They had a lot more time in those days to prepare for these recreations (and a lot more time to sit around and enjoy them, which took the place of today's going to a movie or watching TV). And, of course, they had plenty of servants to make the costumes, dress the actors, get the props, and set it all up for their enjoyment!


Juliette Thank you Everyman! Well put, and while I kinda got it, this is a helpful summary because I started getting confused when I didn't realize there were two words and that the last charade was the word in each group.


Deana (ablotial) Thanks! Yes, that was really helpful and it all makes a lot more sense now. Definitely a lot different than the way we always played charades, which is more like what would be their last step. Interesting how things change over time.


message 18: by Everyman (new) - added it

Everyman | 885 comments Deana wrote: "Definitely a lot different than the way we always played charades, which is more like what would be their last step. Interesting how things change over time. "

Yes, we always play the "short version" too -- my mother-in-law loved charades, so we used to play it frequently. There was, as I recall, also a TV show many years ago that was centered around a version of charades.

We just don't have the time or resources (and perhaps not the shared education in the Bible and mythology) to play the 19th century version.


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