Vanity Fair: Chapter 32,33,34,35,36,37,38

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Summary - Chapters Thirty Two, Thirty Three, Thirty Four, Thirty Five, Thirty Six, Thirty Seven and Thirty Eight

Chapter Thirty Two details the preparations of the non-combatants as war looms. Joseph is terrified at the thought of the approaching French army and orders a carriage to take him and Amelia to the port to return to England. Amelia refuses, though, and wishes to stay with Mrs O’Dowd. Isidor tells of rumours that the British army is in flight and Joseph panics. He orders Isidor to shave off his moustache (so he no longer looks like a soldier).


The action shifts to Becky and the Bareacre family condescending to talk to her now as they want to buy her horses to leave town. She refuses to sell to them because of their previous snubs. However, she allows Joseph to buy them at an inflated price. She reads the note from Osborne and sews trinkets and bills into her clothes to avoid having them stolen.


When Joseph hears the cannons at Waterloo, he tells Amelia he has horses, but she refuses to come with him as she will not leave without her husband. The chapter ends with her praying for Osborne, ‘who was lying on his face, dead, with a bullet through his heart.’


Chapter Thirty Three begins in Brighton with Briggs reading out the news of Rawdon’s gallantry and how he is now a Colonel. Miss Crawley still refuses to accept his marriage, even though he sends her letters and war trophies (which Becky dictates and buys respectively). In Queen’s Crawley, Sir Pitt is ‘friendly’ with Miss Horrocks, the butler’s daughter, and Pitt worries his father will be marrying her next. Pitt visits his ‘intended’ (Lady Jane Sheepshanks) and her mother (Lady Southdown) agrees to ‘temporize’ when visiting Miss Crawley as Pitt does not want to be left out of her will.


Miss Crawley takes a liking to Jane in Chapter Thirty Four, but is not so keen on her mother. Mrs Bute Crawley hears of these visits and sends her son, Jim, as an ambassador for their side of the family.


At dinner, Pitt encourages Jim to get drunk (and is referred to as Machiavel by the narrator). After numerous faux pas, including smoking in the house, Jim is asked to leave.


The narrative moves to Paris, where Becky and Rawdon now live. She gives birth to a son in the spring of 1816. This news angers Miss Crawley as well as the information that Becky has found a place in Paris society by using her name. She requests that Pitt and Jane marry and Lady Southdown takes over the whole family. She doses Miss Crawley with tracts and medicine and strips her of her authority.


The Gazette brings news of Osborne’s death in Chapter Thirty Five and his family are in mourning. In the autumn, his father travels to Brussels and the battlefields where he was killed. He is angry with Amelia when he passes her carriage and Dobbin attempts to bring peace as the executor of Osborne’s will. He tells Osborne senior that Amelia is to be a mother soon and asks him to forgive the child for his son’s sake. Osborne senior refuses to comply.


Amelia recovers a little from her grief when her son (Georgy) is born and Dobbin is named as the godfather. He comes to see her everyday and it is apparent to everyone but Amelia that he has affection for her. Dobbin comes to say goodbye as he is going away for a long time and she says she will write to let him know of her son’s progress. She does not hear his carriage leave.


In Chapter Thirty Six, we are told that Rawdon makes his money by gambling when the war is over. His aunt dies before he makes peace with her and the couple leave Paris without paying their bills. He returns to Brussels and Becky goes to England to affect a compromise with her husband’s creditors. This is made possible and they return to England.


Their home in London is described in Chapter Thirty Seven. It is rented from Mr Raggles (a former butler at Crawley) and they live there rent free and eventually ruin him. They are popular, but the ladies remain aloof from Becky. Under her advice, Rawdon conducts himself well when he discovers he only received £100 in his aunt’s will. His brother, Pitt, received most of it - £60,000 - and their uncle Bute only managed £5,000.


Becky decides she needs a ‘moral sheepdog’ (that is, a female companion) to gain acceptance in society. We are then told that Rawdon is now known as Mrs Crawley’s husband and she barely notices their son, little Rawdon. Father and son are extremely close, though. When Rawdon takes his son to the park, they meet Sedley and Georgy. He is allowed to ride on little Rawdon’s pony.


Chapter Thirty Eight gives an update on Joseph’s life. He returns to India not long after leaving Brussels and allows people to believe he knew the Duke of Wellington. He gives his parents a £120 annuity and this is their chief means of support as Sedley has had no business success since his bankruptcy.


Amelia lives with her parents and is close to her son, but a rift develops when her mother tries to give him an elixir the doctor did not prescribe. She is popular with the men around her, but turns down a proposal from Reverend Binny. Sedley incorrectly accuses Dobbin of  cheating Amelia out of money, but Dobbin finally explains that Osborne did not even have £100 left when he died. The £500 left for Amelia was a sum raised by Dobbin and other fellow officers. This is untrue, however, as Dobbin has paid for everything including Osborne’s burial. Dobbin has since moved to Madras and sends the Sedleys many gifts.


Dobbin’s sisters are also still in touch with Amelia and let her know they believe he is to be married to Glorvina O’Dowd, who is the sister-in-law of Mrs O’Dowd. Amelia claims to be happy for him, but ‘her eyes were quite moist’.


Analysis - Chapters Thirty Two, Thirty Three, Thirty Four, Thirty Five, Thirty Six, Thirty Seven and Thirty Eight

In these chapters, the parallels between Becky and Amelia continue to be made as both bear a son and eventually return to England. However, Amelia is caught up in her grief for Osborne and is extremely close to her son, Georgy, whereas Becky’s star begins to rise and is distant from little Rawdon.


Osborne senior continues to bear a grudge towards Amelia although it is evident that he grieves for his son (as he visits the battlefield). The sin of pride is prevalent as Miss Crawley similarly refuses to forgive Rawdon for his marriage to Becky and leaves him with relatively nothing.

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