Literature Study GuidesRebeccaChapters 21 22 Summary

Rebecca | Study Guide

Daphne du Maurier

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Rebecca | Chapters 21-22 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 21

The local magistrate, Colonel Julyan, is on the phone and asks Maxim if he could have made a mistake when he originally identified the body. Maxim and the narrator realize that officials have already identified the body in the boat as Rebecca's. However, the narrator can only think one thing over and over again: "He did not love Rebecca, he did not love Rebecca." Despite the fear of Maxim being caught, the narrator feels "light and free" knowing that she and Maxim will "face this trouble together."

The next morning she begins to assume her role as mistress of Manderley. When Mrs. Danvers complains about the narrator sending a message via Robert and says that Mrs. de Winter used to call her directly, the narrator replies, "I'm afraid it does not concern me very much what Mrs. de Winter used to do ... I am Mrs. de Winter now."

Colonel Julyan comes to Manderley for lunch and seems confident that the death will be ruled an accident. After Colonel Julyan leaves, Maxim discusses the situation with the narrator. He admits that he does not regret killing Rebecca, but he does regret that the narrator has lost her innocence, "that funny, young lost look that I loved," he says. "I've killed that too."

Chapter 22

The next day the narrator goes into town with Maxim and Frank for the inquest into Rebecca's death. The narrator is very nervous, but things seem to be going well. Then the boat builder testifies that the holes in the boat do not seem to have been made by something natural, like rocks. He suggests that someone drove spikes into the planking of the boat to make it sink. When the coroner asks Maxim if his first marriage was a happy one, the narrator fears that the truth is about to come out and begins to faint. Maxim notices and asks someone to take her outside.

Analysis

After learning the truth about Maxim and Rebecca's marriage, the narrator is able to assume her rightful place as mistress of Manderley. She is no longer nameless; she is Mrs. de Winter. But unlike Rebecca, who remained sexually independent throughout her marriage and who is referred to by her first name, her identity is entirely dependent on her role as Maxim's wife. In fact, the solid points of self she possessed, her freshness of youth and separation from class strictures, melt away as she assumes the prestigious role of wife and mistress of Manderley. Her acquisition of an identity, one inextricably linked with social class, comes with a price: her lost innocence. Even Maxim notices the change, saying of her, "You are so much older." In another example of situational irony, the things that made the narrator feel insecure in her marriage—youth, innocence, and an unformed identity—were things that Maxim found attractive. And in fact, Maxim is creating a marriage of facades with the narrator—this time built on covering up a crime—just as he did with Rebecca.

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