In the second half of the book, it’s revealed that Maxim de Winter killed his first wife, Rebecca, by shooting her, then placing her body in a boat and scuttling it on the beach. It’s then darkly appropriate that the narrator is reminded of Rebecca’s boat after seeing a buoy with the message, “Je reviens,” which means “I’ll return” in French. Just as Rebecca intended all along, the boat returns to Maxim’s life with a vengeance, triggering a renewed investigation of Rebecca’s death, and casting suspicion upon Maxim and the narrator. Rebecca’s boat is a potent symbol of the power of memory and the past: Maxim tries to forget his turbulent marriage with Rebecca, but he’s unable to escape the past so easily.
The timeline below shows where the symbol Rebecca’s Boat appears in Rebecca. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...that the sailors have 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... (full context)
...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 in... (full context)
...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 think back to what... (full context)
...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 that... (full context)
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 will... (full context)
...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 explains... (full context)