Deborah Thomas makes the point in Thackeray and Slavery that Thackeray's concluding description of Pen as "a man and a brother" borrows from abolition debates (P 2:312)} By accepting his own limitations and an "ordinary" life, Pen becomes a slave of sorts, in bondage to the conventionalities of life. But what kind of narrator will this make? Pendennis's narrator tells a story about how a dandy-performer grows up to be an artist who will use the conventionalities of life without becoming slave to them. Catherine Peters suggests that the "insider" persona of the narrator of Pendennis speaks in a more stable voice than the critic-voice of Vanity Fair:

The narrative, instead of the bewildering multiplicity of voices of Vanity Fair, employs a single, reliable third person narrator. This deliberately sets a distance between reader and character, encouraging the reader to take on the role of an indulgent older relative or friend rather to identify with the central figure.2