Literature Study GuidesRebeccaChapters 10 12 Summary

Rebecca | Study Guide

Daphne du Maurier

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Rebecca | Chapters 10-12 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 10

After Beatrice and Giles leave, Maxim and the narrator take a walk around the grounds of Manderley with Jasper, the dog. Maxim leads the narrator to the "Happy Valley," a beautiful valley filled with azaleas, and the narrator finally feels comfortable at Manderley for the first time since her arrival. "This at last," she thinks, "was the core of Manderley, the Manderley I would know and learn to love."

Her happiness does not last long, however, as they soon leave the Happy Valley and arrive at a narrow cove where the sea breaks on hard shingle. They begin playing fetch with Jasper, who soon disappears beyond the rocks. When the narrator follows him, against Maxim's wishes, she finds a small harbor and a deserted boathouse where Jasper barks at Ben, a developmentally disabled man who is collecting shells on the beach. The narrator goes into the boathouse to find string to make a leash for Jasper, but finds it "oppressive" and quickly hurries out again. When she returns to the cove, Maxim is angry and scolds her for going after the dog. He seems haunted by some unhappy memory. The narrator is almost in tears as they return to the house.

Chapter 11

For the next week, the weather is wet and cold, and they do not return to the beach. Nonetheless, the narrator cannot stop thinking about Ben, the deserted cottage, Maxim's distress, and their quarrel. Her discomfort and insecurity are exacerbated by a continual stream of visitors who have come to pay respects to the new bride but who end up talking about Rebecca and how beautiful she was. Only in Frank Crawley, with whom she takes a walk, does she feel she has a friend and ally. He tells her that although Rebecca was indeed very beautiful and clever, there are other qualities, such as modesty, that are more important.

Chapter 12

The narrator continues her efforts to build a normal life at Manderley. However, she is unable to ignore or overlook the many reminders of Rebecca's presence. While trying to arrange a set of books that she received as a wedding present from Beatrice, she accidentally breaks a figurine of Cupid. The narrator's impulse is to hide the broken pieces, as if she has done something wrong. Eventually, in order to prevent an innocent servant from being blamed for the theft of the figurine, the narrator is forced to confess that she broke it. This confession leads to an uncomfortable conversation between the narrator and Maxim; he chastises her for being overly concerned for the staff and wonders whether she regrets the marriage.

Analysis

Du Maurier continues to develop her themes of Past versus Present and Identity in these chapters. The narrator struggles, and fails, to make her place at Manderley amid the overpowering reminders and memories of Rebecca and her own feelings of inadequacy. Readers have already seen that she does not feel equal to Rebecca and her new husband in social class. Now, class, represented by the visitors, seems entwined with the power of the idealized past. Even the kind visitors cannot seem to keep themselves from commenting on Rebecca's beauty and presence. Frank Crawley appears to be the only one who can break from the strictures of class and see Rebecca for what she was. He is not a member of the upper class, but he holds authority as the overseer of the estate. He is able to comment on what Rebecca lacked instead of idealizing her.

There are flashes of relief for the narrator. When she and Maxim visit the Happy Valley, even the rhododendrons are transformed and are "not blood-colored ... but salmon, white, and gold, things of beauty and of grace." The rhododendrons loses their sinister symbolism when the narrator is at a distance from Manderley and the memory of Rebecca.

The fact that the narrator breaks a figurine in the morning room and then hides the pieces suggests her childishness. However, since the Cupid was a particular favorite of Rebecca's, its destruction also foreshadows the destruction of Rebecca's hold on the narrator's marriage and, eventually, the destruction of Manderley itself. The narrator lies about the breakage, like a guilty servant, again adopting a lower-class identity because her own is unformed.

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