Rebecca

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Rebecca Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The next morning, the narrator wakes up early. She goes downstairs and walks around the grounds of Manderley. She notices birds flying through the trees, and sees the beautiful flowers that Rebecca planted years before. As she walks, she realizes that the future of her husband hinges on a man named Baker.
Du Maurier begins the penultimate chapter of her novel with a reminder of the stakes of this visit. If the visit to Baker goes well, Maxim lives—but if it goes poorly, Maxim dies.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator goes to wake Maxim, and they eat breakfast in silence. At nine, Maxim and the narrator get in their car and drive away from Manderley. They find Colonel Julyan waiting for them outside the estate, and they pick him up. When they drive farther away from Manderley, they find Favell waiting for them on schedule. Maxim drives Julyan and the narrator into London, followed closely by Favell’s car. They arrive around three. In London, Colonel Julyan finds a map and uses it to determine Dr. Baker’s location. Julyan determines that he’s looking for a building called Roselands, where Baker used to work. After several hours of asking pedestrians if they know where Roselands is located, Julyan drives his passengers to this location. Favell drives close behind.
In an interesting turn of events, it is the narrator who wakes up Maxim, not the other way around (as in the earlier chapters). This symbolizes the narrator’s growing maturity and self-assuredness, inspired by the revelations about Rebecca. It’s worth noting how much faster the pace of this chapter is, compared with its predecessors. Du Maurier doesn’t linger on descriptions of the car ride or the search for Baker’s house: her priority is getting to the climactic scene of the novel, in which the group meets Dr. Baker in his offices.
Themes
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The group arrives at Roselands, where Dr. Baker now lives. At the front door, Colonel Julyan asks for Dr. Baker, and a maid shows everyone, including Favell, inside. After about five minutes Dr. Baker comes downstairs. Colonel Julyan greets him and asks him if he’d be willing to answer some questions.
In this novel, control and power have always been about who has what information, and now the information that will decide the characters’ fates resides with a totally free agent—Dr. Baker, a character we know nothing about.
Themes
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Dr. Baker sits down with the group. Before Colonel Julyan can begin his questions, Favell interjects that there was a supposed suicide, and Dr. Baker can help Julyan conclude that the suicide was actually a murder. Maxim explains that they’ve found Baker’s phone number in Rebecca de Winter’s diary, suggesting that Rebecca had come to visit Dr. Baker. Baker says he hasn’t consulted with any female patients with the surname de Winter. Julyan points out that Rebecca could easily have given a false name.
It’s interesting to see whose side Colonel Julyan takes during the investigation. Jack Favell alleges that Maxim is responsible for Rebecca’s death, making it very clear to Dr. Baker that the stakes of his testimony are very high (in a real case, someone like Favell would never be allowed in the room—Julyan would be interviewing Baker one-on-one).
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
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Colonel Julyan asks Dr. Baker if he saw any patients on the 12th of the month last year, at noon—the day before Rebecca’s death. Baker goes to consult his old appointment book, and finds that he saw a “Mrs. Danvers” at this time—a young, attractive woman. Baker—recognizing that he needs to reveal this patient’s medical records in the interest of solving a crime—says that he took X-rays of “Danvers.” He determined that the woman was suffering from a terminal case of uterine cancer that prevented her from having children. There was nothing Baker could do for “Danvers” except prescribe her painkillers—she was inevitably going to die of the cancer. The group is visibly stunned by the information they’ve just been given. Colonel Julyan thanks Dr. Baker for his help. He and the rest of the group leave Roselands in silence.
Even if this scene is a little hard to take seriously by 21st century standards (Dr. Baker gives up his patients’ medical records pretty quickly, without so much as a second thought) it’s still surprising and devastating. Rebecca knew she was going to die, and she knew that the manner of her death prevented her from having children. This makes us reevaluate everything Maxim has told us about Rebecca. Since Rebecca was goading Maxim about having children only seconds before he shot her, it seems that she wanted to be killed. Knowing full-well that she was going to die anyway, Rebecca manipulated Maxim into shooting her, effectively sentencing her husband to death by hanging. And yet from Colonel Julyan’s perspective, this information absolves Maxim of all guilt: Rebecca killed herself, he assumes, because she didn’t want to die of cancer. Either way, we get new perspective on the complex character of Rebecca here—she took her fate into her own hands and died on her own terms (essentially committing suicide, but not in the way Julyan thinks), and in a way that would hurt Maxim, her enemy, the most. The question remains, though, which “enemy” (Maxim or Rebecca) was more justified in their actions, and which was the real “villain.” The most fascinating aspect of the novel is that it allows for such divergent interpretations.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon