Rebecca

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Rebecca Chapter 9 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
At noon, the narrator hears the sound of a car pulling up to Manderley. She feels a sudden rush of nervousness—she’s not prepared to talk to guests today. The narrator rushes back to her bedroom, trying to find her way back through the enormous house. She walks to an unfamiliar wing of the house and tries to open a door. Suddenly, she sees Mrs. Danvers, who seems vaguely angry. The narrator explains that she was trying to find her way back to her bedroom—Danvers explains that she’s on the wrong side of the house, the west wing. Danvers tells the narrator that she’d be happy to show her the rooms of the west wing, but the narrator shyly says that there’s no need for her to see these rooms.
Although Mrs. Danvers is only a servant, she conducts herself as if she’s the master of the house—she seems to be ready to punish the narrator for trespassing into a new wing of the house. It’s important to understand that Mrs. Danvers never actually threatens the narrator in any way—she maintains power over the narrator using implications and an affect of veiled menace. One consequence of this is that we can’t yet be 100% sure if Danvers is actually hostile to the narrator or not: because of the novel’s point of view, it often seems that the narrator is only imagining things.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Mrs. Danvers leads the narrator back to her room, and tells her that Major Giles and Beatrice LacyMaxim’s sister and brother-in-law—are waiting for her downstairs, along with Frank Crawley, the Manderley “agent” and estate manager. The narrator dresses quickly, then comes downstairs to find Maxim waiting with Beatrice and her husband. Beatrice greets the narrator and tells Maxim that she isn’t at all what she expected. This provokes laughter, which makes the narrator uncomfortable.
From the beginning of her meeting with the guests, the narrator feels alien to them. Beatrice—on paper, someone with whom the narrator could be good friends—treats the narrator like an object, to be observed and critiqued disrespectfully.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Giles and Beatrice tease Maxim about his health—they suggest that he’s lost weight lately, probably because of marrying the narrator. The narrator notices that Maxim is trying not to seem angry. Giles and Beatrice tell the narrator that she’ll need to come to stay with them and go hunting. The narrator confesses that she’s never been hunting. Out of the blue, Beatrice asks the narrator if she loves Maxim. Before the narrator can answer, Beatrice laughs and says that she and her brother loved each other dearly, even if they appear to bicker constantly. Beatrice tells the narrator that she’d expected Maxim’s new wife to be a social butterfly. The narrator isn’t sure if Beatrice means this as a compliment or an insult. But she thinks that she likes Beatrice—she’s calm and open, unlike Mrs. Danvers.
It’s clear that Beatrice has insulted her brother, but du Maurier doesn’t explain exactly why he’s offended. In part, Maxim seems annoyed with Beatrice for implying that Maxim married again to regain his youth. In another sense, Beatrice’s joke suggests that the narrator is a “medicine” for Maxim—a way for him to stave off the ills of middle age. Both of these seem like distinct possibilities—for all we know, Maxim did marry the narrator for exactly these reasons. This helps explain why the narrator starts to like Beatrice: even if she’s rude and sometimes condescending, she at least says exactly what she’s thinking. After Mrs. Danvers’s veiled threats, this is a massive relief.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Beatrice and the narrator take a walk around Manderley. Beatrice asks the narrator how she’s been getting along with Mrs. Danvers. The narrator admits that she’s a little frightened of her servant, and Beatrice nods—Danvers is extremely jealous, she says, and she adored Rebecca. Beatrice also asks the narrator about her interests, and the narrator only says that she enjoys sketching.
The narrator is more open with Beatrice than with Maxim, as evidence by the way she talks about Mrs. Danvers. While the narrator isn’t 100% honest with either of them, at least she admits to Beatrice that she’s afraid of Danvers. As usual, we learn almost nothing about the narrator’s life and identity outside of the events of the book—she still seems like a child or a blank, anonymous figure, entirely defined by her relationship to her husband and her current surroundings.
Themes
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
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The narrator and Beatrice meet up with Giles and Maxim outside on a lawn. Maxim invites Giles, Beatrice, and the narrator to come with him to see the east wing of the house. It occurs to the narrator that Beatrice has lived at Manderley for the majority of her life—she played here as a small child. Giles says that the renovations to the east wing of the house are splendid, and he reminisces about staying in the east wing with Beatrice years ago.
Beatrice, like Maxim, is completely at home at Manderley. Thus, the narrator is reminded once again that she’s a fish out of water in her new home: everyone around her takes Manderley for granted, while she’s still feeling overwhelmed by it and trying to get a handle on her new home.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
Giles and Beatrice say goodbye, inviting the narrator to visit them anytime. As Beatrice goes, she apologizes to the narrator for asking her unusual questions, and adds, “You are so different from Rebecca.”
One could interpret Beatrice’s parting words in many different ways. But perhaps their most important implication is that the narrator isn’t just a replacement for Maxim’s last wife: she’s her own woman, and shouldn’t be afraid to assert herself as such.
Themes
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon