Shortly after Favell’s departure, the narrator walks to the west wing, to find the window from which she first laid eyes on Favell. When she finds the proper room, she’s surprised to find that it’s fully furnished, and nothing is covered up—unlike the layout of the room when she first saw it. She slowly realizes that she is trembling, and can barely stand.
This scene is terrifying in a more psychologically disturbing way—the room looks fresh, as if Rebecca herself is still there living in it. The power of her memory only seems to be growing stronger, and even to be physically affecting the house.
The narrator surveys the room more closely. There are dressing gowns in the wardrobe, which emit a stale, sickly sweet smell. Suddenly, Mrs. Danvers walks in. The narrator notices that she’s smiling in a cloying, fake way. Danvers tells the narrator that the room belonged to Rebecca. She points out Rebecca’s old dressing gown, which is too big for the narrator, since Rebecca was far taller than she.
It seems clear that Mrs. Danvers is the one who has been keeping Rebecca’s room clean and furnished. This is frightening on a different level—Danvers not only feels that the narrator is an inferior usurper to Rebecca’s place, but she also tries to keep Rebecca “alive” in a way that seems both pitiable and disturbing.
Mrs. Danvers, still smiling, shows the narrator more of Rebecca’s clothes, reminiscing about serving her in the old days. Then, unexpectedly, Danvers tells the narrator that Rebecca was “battered to bits” by the waves and rocks: she lost both of her arms. Danvers has always blamed herself for the accident, she explains: because Danvers showed up late at Manderley that evening (she was coming from Kerrith), Rebecca went out to entertain herself. Had Danvers been on time, Rebecca would never have left.
Mrs. Danvers thinks about Rebecca so often that she seems strangely desensitized to the gruesomeness of Rebecca’s death. But as intimidating and cruel as Mrs. Danvers can be, there’s also something pathetic about her. It’s unclear just what Rebecca herself may have thought of Danvers, but Danvers has based her whole life around Rebecca, and now that devotion has led to a constant (and unnecessary) sense of guilt for Danvers.
Mrs. Danvers continues talking about Rebecca as the narrator grows more and more uncomfortable. She explains that Maxim doesn’t use the west rooms of the house because it’s easy to hear the sound of the sea from these locations—and the sound reminds him of his wife’s death. Mrs. Danvers rises and asks the narrator, “Do you think the dead watch the living?” The narrator replies that she isn’t sure, and Mrs. Danvers suggests that sometimes, Rebecca is watching the narrator and Maxim. With these words, Mrs. Danvers leaves the room.
Maxim doesn’t want to remember his dead wife—as symbolized by his attempts to drown out the noise of the sea. And yet his attempts have been in vain: as Danvers notes here, Rebecca seems to still be alive. Even if Rebecca herself isn’t alive, her memory lives on in Manderley itself, and in the delusions of servants like Mrs. Danvers (who clearly wants Rebecca to come back to life).