The next day, Maxim is scheduled to return in the late evening. In the morning, the narrator receives a call from Beatrice. Over the phone, Beatrice asks the narrator if she’d like to meet Maxim’s grandmother that afternoon. When the narrator agrees, Beatrice says she’ll pick up the narrator from Manderley around 3:30 pm.
As the mistress of a large manor house, the narrator is expected to pay visits to her neighbors and family. And yet it’s a mark of the rapidness of her marriage to Maxim that the narrator still hasn’t met Maxim’s own grandmother.
At 3:30, Beatrice arrives at Manderley. She drives the narrator to see “Gran,” noting in the car that the narrator looks thin and unhealthy, but that she’ll probably bear Maxim a child soon enough. Beatrice expresses her hope that the narrator isn’t doing anything to “prevent” Maxim from producing an heir. A little shocked, the narrator insists that she isn’t.
Whenever the other characters talk about the narrator in relation to Maxim, there’s an implication that the narrator is a tool or an object for Maxim—here, for example, she’s treated as a way for Maxim to produce a male heir, presumably a important task for an old, aristocratic family.
In the car, the narrator asks Beatrice if she’s ever heard of Jack Favell, and explains that he came to Manderley yesterday. Beatrice thinks she’s heard the name before, and guesses that Jack was Rebecca’s cousin. The narrator notices that Beatrice seems reserved and clipped while talking about Favell.
Even Beatrice, who had seemed to be so outspoken and straightforward, is now clearly hiding something about Favell, and keeping more secrets from the narrator—just like her brother.
Beatrice and the narrator arrive at the house of Beatrice and Maxim’s mother. Inside, the narrator finds a house full of dried plants and old-fashioned furniture. Beatrice explains that her “Gran” is in poor health—she’s 86 years old. In a bedroom, Beatrice introduces the narrator to Gran. Gran is quiet and soft-voiced, and she seems more interested in talking to Beatrice about Beatrice’s child, Roger, who’s about to go off to Oxford.
Gran is the embodiment of tradition and convention at Manderley: for her entire life, she’s been the head of a big manor house. But here, du Maurier describes Gran in macabre, almost grotesque terms, as if to suggest the decline and decay of the English aristocracy (a theme that du Maurier will reinforce at the very end of the book).
Beatrice tells Gran that the narrator is a talented artist, and the narrator modestly denies this. As the narrator talks with Gran, she notices the family resemblance between Gran and Maxim. Gran asks repeatedly where Maxim is, and Beatrice gently reminds her that Maxim has gone to London. Gran asks the narrator if she lives at Manderley. Beatrice impatiently reminds Gran that the narrator is Maxim’s wife. Gran seems not to understand this—she asks where Rebecca is. Beatrice, sensing that their visit is going downhill quickly, tells the narrator that it’s time for them to leave.
In addition to representing the long lineage of the English aristocracy, Gran symbolizes the stranglehold that Rebecca maintains over the narrator’s life. Although Gran has forgotten almost everything else, she remembers who Rebecca was, and knows nothing at all about the narrator herself.
Outside Gran’s house, Beatrice apologizes profusely to the narrator for Gran’s behavior, but the narrator insists that there’s no problem. Gran is very old, the narrator admits, meaning that she’s surely forgotten Rebecca’s death. Beatrice remembers that Gran was very fond of Rebecca, and lost her mind after Rebecca’s death. Beatrice adds that Rebecca was attractive to everyone: men, women, children, and dogs.
In a way, Gran is a far more accurate reflection of the way the characters think than Beatrice or the narrator gives her credit for. Like Maxim and Danvers, Gran seems to have forgotten that Rebecca died—as far as she’s concerned, Rebecca is still the real mistress of Manderley.
As Beatrice and the narrator drive back to Manderley, the narrator imagines Gran as a younger woman, raising Maxim when he was a small boy. As the car approaches Manderley, the narrator is pleased to see that Maxim has returned: his car is parked in its usual place.
The narrator has an almost involuntary habit of fantasizing about the distant past—here, for example, one gets the sense that her subconscious mind is making up daydreams, even though she’d prefer not to think about Gran any further.
The narrator thanks Beatrice and says goodbye. As she walks into Manderley, she hears Maxim arguing with Mrs. Danvers, saying, “his car was seen here yesterday afternoon.” When the narrator finds Maxim, he’s alone (Mrs. Danvers has walked out), but clearly very angry. The narrator greets Maxim warmly, expecting him to mention the incident with Jack Favell. But Maxim doesn’t bring up Favell at all—he only says that he’s had a long drive back from London.
The narrator thinks that talking about Jack Favell with Maxim will establish trust and intimacy between them, yet Maxim doesn’t bring up Favell at all, suggesting that he’s still reluctant to talk about his past with the narrator, and doesn’t trust her with his secrets—yet another way of belittling her, in a way. It’s also unclear just how Maxim finds out about Favell’s visit, since the narrator doesn’t tell him. It could be one of the servants, or perhaps Beatrice passing on the narrator’s information.