Rebecca

Rebecca de Winter Character Analysis

The titular character of du Maurier’s novel never appears in the book, yet she exerts a powerful influence over all the other characters. As a young woman, Rebecca marries the charismatic aristocrat Maxim de Winter by fooling him into believing that she is a kind, virtuous woman. After marriage, however, Rebecca shows her true colors, having affairs, mocking the servants, and bringing dishonor to the de Winter family name. Knowing that Maxim values appearances too highly to divorce her, Rebecca tries to manipulate Maxim into obeying her. When she learns that she has terminal cancer, she tricks Maxim into believing that she’s pregnant with another man’s child, ensuring—in a final act of vengeance—that he’ll be arrested for murder. Rebecca’s duplicity is enormous—even after she dies, her reputation as a lovely, perfect woman survives her, intimidating the young, naïve narrator. Yet it’s also telling that we only learn the “truth” about Rebecca from Maxim—her murderer—and there are critics who have argued that Rebecca is actually a tragic, misunderstood character, a victim of the misogyny of early 20th century England.

Rebecca de Winter Quotes in Rebecca

The Rebecca quotes below are all either spoken by Rebecca de Winter or refer to Rebecca de Winter. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Memory Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Harper edition of Rebecca published in 2006.
Chapter 2 Quotes

But I never dared ask Mrs. Danvers what she did about it. She would have looked at me in scorn, smiling that freezing, superior smile of hers, and I can imagine her saying: “There were never any complaints when Mrs. de Winter was alive.”

Mrs. Danvers. I wonder what she is doing now.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter, Mrs. Danvers
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 5 Quotes

“When we climbed the hills and looked down over the precipice. I was there some years ago, with my wife. You asked me if it was still the same, if it had changed at all. It was just the same, but—I was thankful to realize—oddly impersonal. There was no suggestion of the other time. She and I had left no record. It may have been because you were with me. You have blotted out the past for me, you know, far more effectively than all the bright lights of Monte Carlo.”

Related Characters: Maximilian de Winter (speaker), Rebecca de Winter, The narrator
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:

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How many times she must have written to him thus, in how many varied moods. Little notes, scrawled on half-sheets of paper, and letters, when he was away, page after page, intimate, their news. Her voice, echoing through the house, and down the garden, careless and familiar like the writing in the book.

And I had to call him Maxim.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter, Maximilian de Winter
Page Number: 44
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

“Who is it?” I said, “who do you want?”
There was a strange buzzing at the end of the line, and then a voice came, low and rather harsh, whether that of a woman or a man I could not tell, and “Mrs. de Winter?” it said, “Mrs. de Winter?”
“I'm afraid you have made a mistake,” I said; “Mrs. de Winter has been dead for over a year.” I sat there, waiting, staring stupidly into the mouthpiece, and it was not until the name was repeated again, the voice incredulous, slightly raised, that I became aware, with a rush of color to my face, that I had blundered irretrievably, and could not take back my words.
“It's Mrs. Danvers, Madam,” said the voice. “I'm speaking to you on the house telephone.”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Mrs. Danvers (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Related Symbols: Manderley
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 9 Quotes

“You see,” she said, snapping the top, and walking down the stairs, “you are so very different from Rebecca.”

Related Characters: Beatrice Lacy (speaker), Rebecca de Winter, The narrator
Page Number: 107
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

I heard myself saying boldly, brazenly, “Rebecca must have been a wonderful person.”
I could not believe that I had said the name at last. I waited, wondering what would happen. I had said the name. I had said the word Rebecca aloud. It was a tremendous relief. It was as though I had taken a purge and rid myself of an intolerable pain. Rebecca. I had said it aloud.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 126
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 18 Quotes

“I thought I hated you but I don't now,” she said; “it seems to have spent itself, all the feeling I had.”
“Why should you hate me?” I asked; “what have I ever done to you that you should hate me?”
“You tried to take Mrs. de Winter's place,” she said.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Mrs. Danvers (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 245
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 20 Quotes

“Our marriage was a farce from the very first. She was vicious, damnable, rotten through and through. We never loved each other, never had one moment of happiness together. Rebecca was incapable of love, of tenderness, of decency. She was not even normal.”

Related Characters: Maximilian de Winter (speaker), Rebecca de Winter, The narrator
Page Number: 275
Explanation and Analysis:

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“Yes,” I said, “my sweet, my love.” But I looked away from him so he should not see my face. What did it matter whether I understood him or not? My heart was light like a feather floating in the air. He had never loved Rebecca.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Rebecca de Winter, Maximilian de Winter
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 21 Quotes

“I will give the orders about the lunch,” she said. She waited a moment. I did not say anything. Then she went out of the room. She can't frighten me any more, I thought. She has lost her power with Rebecca.

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Mrs. Danvers (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 296
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 23 Quotes

“This business has been a shock to me, you know,” he said. “A bloody awful shock. Rebecca was my cousin. I was damn fond of her.”
“Yes,” I said. “I'm very sorry for you.”
“We were brought up together,” he went on. “Always tremendous pals. Liked the same things, the same people. Laughed at the same jokes. I suppose I was fonder of Rebecca than anyone else in the world. And she was fond of me. All this has been a bloody shock.”

Related Characters: The narrator (speaker), Jack Favell (speaker), Rebecca de Winter
Page Number: 329
Explanation and Analysis:

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Rebecca de Winter Character Timeline in Rebecca

The timeline below shows where the character Rebecca de Winter appears in Rebecca. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...Mrs. Danvers, who, if the narrator complained about anything, would say that the narrator’s predecessor, Rebecca de Winter, never complained about anything of that kind. Mrs. Danvers disliked the narrator for... (full context)
Chapter 4
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...She also notices that on the front page of the book there’s a message: “Max—from Rebecca. 17 May.” She remembers something Mrs. Van Hopper told her the previous day: Maxim’s wife... (full context)
Chapter 5
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
The narrator finds that she can’t stop thinking about Rebecca, Maxim’s former wife. No doubt, Rebecca called Maxim “Max.” Perhaps Rebecca read poetry over his... (full context)
Chapter 6
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Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...of poetry that Maxim gave her. On the title page, she sees the “R” of Rebecca’s name—an “R” that gets bigger and bigger the longer she stares at it. She overhears... (full context)
Chapter 7
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...the narrator sits by the fire with Maxim, she becomes conscious that she’s sitting in Rebecca’s chair, drinking from the cups that Rebecca used to use, etc. (full context)
Chapter 8
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...list of planning subjects, such as “addresses,” “menus,” etc. She notices that the handwriting is Rebecca’s. (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
The narrator hangs up the phone and stares at Rebecca’s notebook. Rebecca kept herself busy for years by attending to the affairs of Manderley: the... (full context)
Chapter 9
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...to the narrator for asking her unusual questions, and adds, “You are so different from Rebecca.” (full context)
Chapter 11
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
The narrator learns more about Rebecca in the coming weeks. The servants ask the narrator if she’ll be hosting many guests,... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...hosting parties in the near future. The bishop’s wife remembers the wonderful parties organized by Rebecca, and the narrator blurts out, “Rebecca must have been a wonderful person.” When the narrator... (full context)
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...pass on her respects to Maxim, and to ask him to reorganize a ball that Rebecca used to host at Manderley. For the rest of the day, the narrator finds herself... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...seems uncomfortable discussing the cottage—eventually, the narrator asks, point-blank, if the cottage is full of Rebecca’s things. Frank says that it is. (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
The narrator, sensing that Frank is going to be honest with her, asks Frank how Rebecca died. He explains that she was sailing on the ocean when her boat capsized and... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
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...herself to Frank. She tells him that everyone in her new life compares her to Rebecca. She admits that she’s beginning to feel that she should never have married Maxim. Frank... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
...narrator and Frank walk back to the front of Manderley. The narrator asks Frank if Rebecca was beautiful, and he admits that she was extremely beautiful. (full context)
Chapter 12
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...senses that Danvers is making herself scarce. The narrator remembers what Beatrice said—that Danvers adored Rebecca—and finds herself feeling sorry for Mrs. Danvers: she’s devoted to a woman who’s no longer... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...from. Maxim claims not to remember, but guesses that it was a wedding present, since “Rebecca knew a lot about china.” The narrator is shocked to hear Maxim pronounce his dead... (full context)
Chapter 13
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...“I come back” in French) is written on the buoy. This reminds the narrator of Rebecca’s boat—a boat which did not come back on the day she drowned. (full context)
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...away from the cottage, pitying Ben—surely he’s been living in fear for years, frightened that Rebecca would send him away. (full context)
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...gone, the narrator wonders who he could be: he’s addressed Maxim as Max, something only Rebecca did, as far as the narrator can tell. It’s possible that Favell is some kind... (full context)
Chapter 14
Memory Theme Icon
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...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... (full context)
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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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... (full context)
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Mrs. Danvers continues talking about Rebecca as the narrator grows more and more uncomfortable. She explains that Maxim doesn’t use the... (full context)
Chapter 15
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...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. (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
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Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...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... (full context)
Chapter 16
Memory Theme Icon
...about Maxim’s orders to close up these rooms, and wonders if he ever comes into Rebecca’s old bedroom and touches her clothes, as Mrs. Danvers does. (full context)
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After Mrs. Danvers leaves, the narrator wonders why Maxim doesn’t like Rebecca’s cousin, Jack Favell. She suspects that Jack is the “black sheep” of Rebecca’s side of... (full context)
Chapter 17
Memory Theme Icon
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
...truth to the narrator: the white dress she wore was the same white dress that Rebecca wore to the last costume party. While Beatrice understands that the narrator couldn’t have known... (full context)
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...on downstairs. The guests are undoubtedly talking about how the narrator isn’t at all like Rebecca—how, instead, she’s a “little chit.” Perhaps the guests are talking about how Maxim’s new marriage... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...along. Maxim wants to have a new wife, but deep down he still belongs to Rebecca and no one else. Indeed, most of Maxim’s family and servants are still deeply loyal... (full context)
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
Power, Control, and Information Theme Icon
...The narrator, feeling more and more emotional, insists that Maxim is still in love with Rebecca. Frank says that he’s coming to see the narrator right away. (full context)
Memory Theme Icon
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
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Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...been miserable—if the narrator had truly loved Maxim, Danvers insists, she’d never have married him. Rebecca, Danvers recalls, had the spirit “of a boy,” and “ought to have been a boy.”... (full context)
Chapter 19
Feminism and Gender Roles Theme Icon
Coming of Age Theme Icon
Place, Imprisonment, and the Gothic Theme Icon
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...discovered something unpleasant beneath their own ship: the hull of the boat that belonged to Rebecca. Furthermore, Searle tells her, the sailors discovered a body inside the boat. This surprises the... (full context)
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...to discuss the previous night with Maxim. She asks Maxim if he’d thought she’d worn Rebecca’s dress on purpose, but Maxim says he can’t remember anything from that night. He asks... (full context)
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...can finish—she assumes that Maxim will want to find out who the second person in Rebecca’s boat was. Maxim, his entire body shaking, tells the narrator the truth. Rebecca didn’t die... (full context)
Chapter 20
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The narrator stands in the library with Maxim, having just learned that he murdered Rebecca. There is no horror in the narrator’s heart—she finds that she can’t feel her body,... (full context)
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...Maxim, but instead of listening, Maxim explains what will happen next. The police will identify Rebecca’s body in the boat—her rings, her clothes, etc. As Maxim speaks, the narrator can only... (full context)
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Maxim explains more about Rebecca. Rebecca, he claims, was “damnably clever,” and extremely talented at saying the right things to... (full context)
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Maxim goes on to explain that he could never divorce Rebecca—there would be too much suspicion, too many rumors. Instead, he and Rebecca agreed to live... (full context)
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Over the years, Maxim explains, he was loyal to Rebecca because she helped reshape Manderley into a grand estate. But slowly, she began to grow... (full context)
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Maxim explains that Rebecca had a cousin, Jack Favell, who lived in London. The narrator nods and explains that... (full context)
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One night, Maxim went down to the cottage with a gun, thinking that he’d surprise Rebecca and Favell. Instead, he found Rebecca waiting there alone, looking pale and oddly sickly. Maxim,... (full context)
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Maxim carries Rebecca’s dead body to the sea, where he throws her in a boat and then sinks... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...the narrator alone. She has the strong sense that she, along with Maxim, has murdered Rebecca. And yet she’s no longer afraid of Rebecca, nor does she hate her—indeed, as long... (full context)
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...He’s also told the Colonel that it’s possible that he made a mistake while identifying “Rebecca’s” body last year. As Maxim explains this, the phone rings again, and Maxim goes to... (full context)
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...the menu for the week. Mrs. Danvers comes to meet with the narrator, complaining that Rebecca never used Robert to deliver messages. The narrator coolly replies that she doesn’t care what... (full context)
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...to her—the narrator replies that she doesn’t know. Danvers also asks if the rumors about Rebecca’s boat are true—again, the narrator denies knowing anything. Mrs. Danvers leaves, and the narrator thinks... (full context)
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...and the weather in France and Monte Carlo. Then, unexpectedly, Julyan turns the conversation to Rebecca’s body. The problem, he explains, is that Maxim has already identified one body as Rebecca’s,... (full context)
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...narrator that the doctors have been unable to find any evidence of the bullet in Rebecca’s body—as far as anyone can tell, Rebecca drowned. Maxim points out that the narrator looks... (full context)
Chapter 22
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By evening, there are headlines in every local paper about the discovery of Rebecca’s boat. Frith asks the narrator about the inevitable inquest—he wants to know if the servants... (full context)
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The narrator reads the newspaper stories about Maxim. They describe Rebecca as beautiful, brilliant, and talented, and suggest that Maxim was a vile, unlikable man who... (full context)
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...boat builder, standing with Jack Favell. Tabb is testifying that the boat he built for Rebecca had never been known to capsize in rough weather—it was very sturdy. Tabb then goes... (full context)
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...As Maxim listens, he becomes angry and uncomfortable. Horridge asks Maxim if his relationship with Rebecca was happy. Before Maxim can answer, the narrator, who’s been listening to the conversation with... (full context)
Chapter 23
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...to Horridge. The narrator says that she’s worried for Maxim, since it’s come out that Rebecca’s boat was deliberately scuttled (sunk). She remembers seeing Jack Favell at the inquest, but Frank... (full context)
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...Maxim enters the narrator’s bedroom. He explains, “it’s all over.” The Coroner has concluded that Rebecca died by suicide, though he doesn’t know the motive: as far as the police are... (full context)
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Maxim says he’s going to the crypt on Manderley property, where Rebecca will be buried that evening. The narrator waits in her bedroom, imagining Maxim standing with... (full context)
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...When the narrator doesn’t reply, he explains that he misses his cousin terribly. He and Rebecca were brought up together, and he loved her dearly. He tells the narrator he knows... (full context)
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...Favell tells Maxim he knows that Maxim, the narrator, and Frank know the truth about Rebecca—i.e., they know that Rebecca and Favell were lovers. Favell says he also knows to a... (full context)
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...Favell should leave, or he’ll call Colonel Julyan and tell him about Favell’s affair with Rebecca. Favell laughs and says he’d be happy to talk to Julyan that evening. Maxim decides... (full context)
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...him to Favell. Favell tells Julyan he has important information to share: a note that Rebecca sent him. He shows Julyan the note, which seems to suggest that Rebecca didn’t intend... (full context)
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...evidence of the case points to suicide. He asks Favell what he thinks happened to Rebecca. Favell replies, without any hesitation, that Maxim murdered Rebecca. (full context)
Chapter 24
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Jack Favell has just suggested that Maxim killed Rebecca. Favell laughs hysterically, and the narrator notices that Colonel Julyan, who’s been listening to Favell’s... (full context)
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...listens to Favell and Colonel Julyan argue, she realizes that there is a witness to Rebecca’s murder: Ben. She remembers what Ben told her: “The fishes have eaten her, haven’t they?”... (full context)
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...to find Ben, Favell insults Frank. He says that Frank didn’t have much success with Rebecca, but that when Maxim is executed, Frank will be able to provide a “fraternal arm”... (full context)
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...know him, and calls Ben a “half-witted liar.” Julyan next asks Ben if he remembers Rebecca de Winter. Ben seems hesitant. Favell asks Ben if he saw Rebecca on the night... (full context)
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Favell asks Mrs. Danvers to tell Colonel Julyan the truth about Rebecca: she’d been “living” with Favell for years during her marriage to Maxim, and was in... (full context)
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Colonel Julyan asks Mrs. Danvers if she can think of any reason why Rebecca would kill herself. Danvers pauses for a long time, then says, “No.” Julyan shows Danvers... (full context)
Chapter 25
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...specialist,” according to the man he spoke with on the phone. Colonel Julyan concludes that Rebecca must have gone to see Dr. Baker, gotten a medical diagnosis of some kind, and... (full context)
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...realizes that Danvers didn’t realize until just now that Favell was accusing Maxim of murdering Rebecca. (full context)
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...the official verdict—suicide will only arouse suspicion and outrage in the community. Furthermore, Beatrice says, Rebecca could never have killed herself. (full context)
Chapter 26
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 27
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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...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 (full context)
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...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,... (full context)