Jane barely sees Rochester, until one night after dinner he calls for Jane and Adèle to join him. He gives Adèle the gift from Paris that he's been impatiently waiting for, and she goes off to play. Rochester, who seems a bit drunk, chats amiably with Jane, and she answers with all of her usual directness. Rochester asks if Jane thinks he's handsome. Jane bluntly says no, even though she secretly admires his eyes. They converse about each other's personalities, about treating people directly and on equal terms. It seems to her that Rochester sometimes speaks as if he were reading her mind.
Rochester cannot be himself around Jane yet—he needs to get drunk to converse with her at all. Yet Jane already senses a deep, almost spiritual connection with him that cuts across social boundaries. Even so, for all his talk of treating people directly and on even terms, Rochester does neither of those things with Jane. He summons her to come talk with him, and keeps secrets.
Describing himself, Rochester claims to be a man of experience and unfortunate circumstances, hardened from flesh into "Indian-rubber." He makes obscure references to his past and his plans for reforming himself, but Jane gets confused by his vagueness and she stops the conversation.
Rochester's desire to reform suggests some illicit behavior on his part that's troubling him. His desire to remake himself from "Indian-rubber" into flesh contrasts with Helen's faith in transcending the flesh.
Adèle soon returns, dressed up in a new pink gown, and dances around. Rochester says that Adèle reminds him of her French mother, Céline Varens. Rochester promises to someday explain to Jane more about how and why Adèle became his ward.
Adèle is a living symbol of Rochester's past, which he wants to reform. But he will need Jane's help, symbolized in part by her role as Adèle's tutor.