Literature Study GuidesRebeccaChapters 13 14 Summary

Rebecca | Study Guide

Daphne du Maurier

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Rebecca | Chapters 13-14 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 13

When Maxim goes to London for business at the end of June, the narrator is at first worried that something will happen to him. However, she soon begins to relish her freedom. She wanders through the Happy Valley with Jasper and then visits the boathouse in the cove. There she meets Ben, who seems frightened at first but then relaxes and tells her that she is not like "the other one," meaning Rebecca, whom he compares to a snake.

When the narrator returns to the house, she sees Mrs. Danvers and an unknown man standing at a window in the west wing; however, they disappear when she comes into view. A short time later, the narrator accidentally runs into the man. He introduces himself as Jack Favell and seems to know Maxim, whom he refers to as "Max." The man makes the narrator uncomfortable, and when he asks her to keep his visit a secret, she has the sense that he and Mrs. Danvers are up to no good.

Chapter 14

The narrator realizes that Mrs. Danvers and Jack Favell were in Rebecca's bedroom and decides to go there and see what they were doing. However, when she opens the door, she is taken aback. The bedroom looks as if Rebecca is still using it. Mrs. Danvers suddenly appears, frightening the narrator and insisting on showing her Rebecca's things. She talks about Rebecca's death and asks the narrator if she believes in ghosts and if she has noticed Rebecca's ghost wandering around Manderley. The narrator becomes even more frightened and excuses herself to go to her room and lie down.

Analysis

In Chapter 13, the theme of Identity figures prominently. The narrator seems to blossom in Maxim's absence, feeling "a sense of freedom" to be herself. She wanders gladly through the Happy Valley, and even the cottage in the cove seems less threatening. As she discovers what she likes and prefers, she begins to understand what it means to be the mistress of Manderley, distinct from her relationship with Maxim and the memory of Rebecca. The narrator's sense of confidence and happiness is short-lived, however, as reminders of Rebecca dampen her spirits. Ben's comparison of Rebecca to a snake associates her symbolically with the devil and serves to develop the theme of Evil. The snake comparison may also suggest Rebecca's betrayal of Maxim. Later in the chapter, Rebecca's cousin, Jack Favell, described as "too soft, too pink" and reeking of whiskey, also suggests corruption and evil.

The narrator's visit to Rebecca's bedroom in Chapter 14 is a pivotal moment in her struggle to break free of the past and form her own identity. Here the narrator is confronted with Rebecca's presence as never before, and it frightens and threatens to overwhelm her. Scanning Rebecca's possessions and imagining Rebecca entering her room, the narrator is shaken, visibly trembling. When she looks at her own reflection in the mirror, she sees her face is "white and thin," and describes her reflection as "sallow and plain." Instead of asserting her identity as the current and living Mrs. de Winter, the narrator retreats further. Mrs. Danvers exacerbates the problem, taking malevolent pleasure in showing the narrator Rebecca's bedroom and possessions. She also suggests that Rebecca wanders the halls as a ghost and watches the narrator and Maxim when they are together.

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