Rebecca is presented as a plain woman yet she is driven to pronounce a series of memories that are haunting, dark, and exceptional. Her memories take her and the audience to a world of brooding, dangerous lovers, of strangers with luggage trying to escape, of guides who take these unfortunates away to drown or to train stations where they huddle together while their babies are torn from their arms.
Devlin struggles with Rebecca's memory of a lover Devlin does not remember her mentioning in the past. Her descent into cascading memories of a different past life leave him anxious, angry, and possessive. He reacts with jealousy and attempts to imitate Rebecca's lover's restrained violence in lovemaking. He does not know how to compete with the current of thought and feeling that draws Rebecca's focus away from their shared life. He responds with frustration and sarcasm.