Outside Roselands, the group stands by their cars, shaken. Favell in particular is stunned by the news that Rebecca had cancer. Colonel Julyan sternly tells Favell to go home and to never see him again—Favell has tried to blackmail Maxim, and he’s failed. Favell smirks and admits that Maxim has ”dodged a bullet,” but still insists that Maxim is guilty of killing Rebecca, and will hang for his crime. With these words, Favell gets in his car and drives away.
As usual, Jack Favell puts everything into plain language: Maxim has just caught a lucky break. Even though Rebecca intended to frame her husband for murder by sacrificing her own life, the detectives will conclude that she killed herself (and in a way, of course, she did).
Colonel Julyan watches Favell drive away. He asks Maxim if he had any idea that Rebecca had cancer—Maxim says he didn’t. Julyan suggests that Rebecca killed herself to avoid the prolonged pain of death by cancer. Maxim nods and says this must have been what happened.
Maxim accepts the Colonel’s conclusion, even though it will undoubtedly cause a flood of gossip at Manderley (to say the least, it makes Maxim look like a wicked husband who drove his wife to suicide). This isn’t ideal, but it’s preferable to being accused of murder.
Colonel Julyan advises Maxim and the narrator to get out of England for a while to avoid the gossip and controversy about Rebecca’s death. He suggests Switzerland. Maxim drives Julyan to his sister’s home, and bids him goodbye
Julyan’s parting words to Maxim and the narrator suggest that, like Maxim, he was really most concerned with the public perception of Manderley all along, rather than ensuring that justice was served. He always acted as a rather biased detective, and seems as relieved as Maxim is to be able to justify his “verdict” of suicide. Maxim’s privilege is shown in plain view as Julyan leaves the scene—instead of Rebecca’s murder being thoroughly pursued and ending with a (correct) conviction for Maxim, instead Julyan performs a rather halfhearted investigation and ends by advising Maxim to visit Switzerland.
The narrator and Maxim stop along the way back to Manderley to eat dinner at a London restaurant. Inside, Maxim wonders aloud if Julyan suspected the truth about Rebecca’s death. Maxim then answers his own question: “Of course he knew.” He adds that Rebecca, knowing she was going to die anyway, was trying to frame Maxim for murder: provoking him into shooting her in the hope that Maxim would be unable to hide the body, and eventually would be hanged for murder.
Maxim confirms this to be the case—Julyan figured out the truth, but just didn’t want to start a scandal. This motive may seem foreign by modern standards, but a century ago it wasn’t uncommon for the police to take aristocrats’ sides in a criminal case, even in the face of all the evidence. Despite everything, Maxim still displays no regret for his actions, and even feels more justified now that he has learned that Rebecca probably wanted him to kill her. All this makes us wonder if he’s as admirable a husband as the narrator still seems to believe.
At the restaurant, Maxim places a call to Frank. Frank reports that Mrs. Danvers has disappeared from Manderley: no one can find her. The narrator shrugs and says, “So much the better.” She assumes that Favell has called Mrs. Danvers and told her about Dr. Baker’s information. The narrator imagines herself running the house unopposed, now that Danvers is gone. With Frank’s help, she’ll learn the economics of Manderley. She’ll also bear Maxim children.
The mention of Mrs. Danvers in this scene is particularly menacing, because now Mrs. Danvers has all the information, and she knows Rebecca well enough to deduce that Rebecca manipulated Maxim into killing her. There’s no telling that Danvers will do, now that she blames Maxim for the death of the woman she admired above all others. One other uncomfortable element of this section is that the narrator seems perfectly comfortable in her role as “child bearer” for her husband: she’s finally embraced the role of the perfect, subdued English wife, where previously she’d struggled with it. One could easily interpret this to mean that the narrator is surrendering her freedom to fit with misogynistic gender roles—the exact opposite of Rebecca, who pushed for her freedom and independence up to the end, even in the very manner of her death.
On the long drive back to Manderley, the narrator dreams about returning to her home and seeing Mrs. Danvers there. She suggests to Maxim that they travel to Switzerland, as Colonel Julyan suggested.
Du Maurier leaves it up to the reader to decide what kind of relationship the narrator can have with Maxim, now that she knows the truth about Rebecca. For the time being, she seems content to travel with her husband, and to have accepted the fact that her husband is a murderer. Some critics see the narrator’s acceptance as a mark of her maturity and intelligence, while others see it as foolish or even misogynistic—the narrator accepts her husband’s hatred of Rebecca without question, never thinking that perhaps Rebecca wasn’t such a one-dimensional villain, and that Maxim’s anger might be turned on her someday.
The narrator takes another nap. When she wakes up, it’s very late at night, and she and Maxim are almost back home. Over a hill in the distance, Maxim glimpses a flash of light, as if it’s already dawn. And yet it’s much too early for dawn. As the car draws closer to Manderley, the light gets brighter. The narrator sees that Manderley is burning, throwing bright, blood-colored light into the night sky.
In this shocking finale, we discover that Manderley—the symbol of the past, of trauma, and of Rebecca, is destroyed. (Though it’s not explained, we can assume that Danvers has destroyed the manor in revenge for Maxim’s murder of her beloved mistress.) Perhaps the destruction of Manderley is meant to symbolize the end of Rebecca’s stranglehold on Maxim and the narrator’s lives: now that the case is closed, Maxim and the narrator can move on and be free of Rebecca’s oppressive presence. By a slightly different reasoning, we should note that the end of Manderley also exactly coincides with the end of the book. Rebecca—the novel we’ve just finished—was a confession, written by the narrator for the reader. Over the course of the last 300 pages, the narrator has “worked through” her conflicted feelings about Rebecca, Manderley, and Maxim. Now that she’s shared her guilty, her pain, and her anxiety with us, she’s ready to move on. Perhaps she’ll now stop “dreaming about Manderley again.”