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Archives > The Second Mrs. de Winter (Rebecca chapters 7-12)

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Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Chapters 7-12, in which the narrator tries to adjust to her new role as mistress of Manderly.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
What do you think about the fact that the narrator is unnamed, other than being the second Mrs. de Winter? I think it was brilliant on the part of du Maurier because it really exemplifies her lack of personal identity. She cannot assert herself to Mrs. Danvers or to Maxim because she has no confidence in who she is. It's why Rebecca's memory can intimidate her so.

Joey (joeymporter) | 10 comments Nice interpretation. I wholeheartedly agree.

I feel quite sorry for her in some ways for the poor way in which she is treated upon arriving at Manderlay. But at the same time, I am just itching for her to grow more of a backbone.

I liked how Du Maurier used the scenery to enhance Rebecca's memory and give a bit of her personality. For instance with the "blood red" rhododendrons. To me, they just screamed that there was something up with Rebecca. After that I always imagined her with dark red nails like a maneater of sorts.

Heidi I've always wondered about the unnamed narrator, especially since when in they first meet, Mr. de Winter comments that her name is interesting and unusual, or something like that.

I like Sarah's interpretation that it's because the girl has no personal confidence. I think it's also because Rebecca's presence overshadows her whole existence. The book is named after a character we don't see much of, but who influences every move of the rest of the characters.

When I first read the book I wasn't sure whether the author's choice to leave the narrator unnamed was gimmicky or brilliant. The more I think about it, the more I lean toward brilliant.

message 5: by Alison (last edited Feb 20, 2008 12:25PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alison I very much agree with the above regarding the non-named narrator...Has there ever been a novel where a dead character has had more prescence than any of the ones living? It's genius.

Another thing I love about this book: Did you notice how so much of the story is told through the narrator's imagination? For example, she imagines Rebecca at the desk writing letters, and there's a detailed description. It's a very indirect way of telling the story...that's not exactly the way it happened, but we as readers can guess at what went on at Manderly before the narrator arrived through these descriptions. And there are LOTS of passages like that, long detailed descriptions of the narrator imagining things as they might have been. They're a huge part of the story.

Joey (joeymporter) | 10 comments I did notice that actually. The narrator had such a rich imagination. When she is first at Manderlay she very much lives in her own imagination. It seems to be the only place in which she is comfortable.

Alison So, now, I'm starting to think that things were not quite the way she imagined them. So, what is the author trying to say? That our own insecurities sometimes hide the truth? That we see what we want to see, or, rather, fear what we want to fear?

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Something like that, Alison... keep reading.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
I found this on the internet somewhere...

Her fear of the servants and her inability to assert herself seems to further illustrate her lack of self. Letting Mrs. Danvers continue to run things as Rebecca ran them is, essentially, letting Rebecca remain mistress of the house. At one point, Mrs. Danvers calls the heroine on the house telephone, and asks "Mrs. de Winter?" The heroine, without thinking, replies: "I am afraid you have made a mistake... Mrs. de Winter has been dead for over a year." In her own mind, she cannot accept that she, and not Rebecca, is mistress of Manderley and wife to Maxim.

Alison So, I'm wondering...what was the significance to the emphasis on detail when describing Manderly...up until the very end, before they travel to London to visit the "witness"...the author describes the decor, what they had for breakfast, what the maids were doing, what was blooming in the garden...why do we think this staging of Manderly was so important?

message 11: by Joey (new) - rated it 5 stars

Joey (joeymporter) | 10 comments
I think someone else might have said this previously, but I'll reiterate it. In my opinion, I imagine that Manderlay is a character in itself. It's the reason for hatred, death, love, and happiness. The descriptions display so much. The seemingly endless drive up to Manderlay in the beginning, the red rhododendrons, the Valley of Happiness (I think that's what it was called), where the narrator was happy to be alone. Even what the maids are doing, I don't remember those parts exactly, but maybe they are noticed by the narrator to indicate just how uncomfortable she is in her new situation and that she doesn't quite fit.

Chrissie The narrator is driving me crazy. What a wimp! I have the feeling that as she now looks back on her time at Manderlay, she admits to herself that she was over sensitive, too insecure, too easily ruffled by insignificant comments. I think in retrospect she is aware of this. Why didn't she take a stand? She was the new mistress of the house. I try and excuse her lack of confidence by the fact that this book does not occur in our time, but this is just an excuse for her submissiveness, her weak character. Not all women of her time were that weak and submissive. The time period is not the explanation! Her character just is this way, and I have a hard time with it.

However sometimes she does show a glimmer of strength, but this only makes me question whether the wuthor has drawn an inconceivable character! I thought, for example that it was very strange that she left her husband behind and chased after the dog on the beach. This behavior seemed so far from her character! Neither was she scared of Ben whom she than encountered. Only later did others tell her that Ben was nothing to be scared of. Again, I find this inconsistent. True, people are not always consistent, but it did surprise me.

Both Frank Crawley and Maxim have repeatedly told the new wife that she is a breath of fresh air. They want change. When she married, she must have been aware that being the mistress of Manderlay would impose obligations. Nevertheless she lacks all self confidence. I hope the author has drawn this picture for a purpose.

message 13: by Arielle (last edited Apr 02, 2008 11:23AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Arielle | 5 comments This book is so great! I can't believe I'm only now getting around to reading it!
The unnamed narrator is such a unique way to shape a story. She's our main character, our heroine, but she has no identity beyond Mrs. Van Hopper's companion, and the new Mrs. de Winter. It really bothers me how the servants continually refer to Rebecca as "this is how Mrs. de Winter always did things" without seeming to realize that there's a new sheriff in town! Of course, our heroine is not asserting herself, but I can't wait until she tells someone that She is Mrs. de Winter, not Rebecca. It's such a brilliant ploy to make us tangibly feel how much she is living in the shadow of someone else. You can say that a character is in someone's shadow, or, you can deny them a name, the very first part of a person's identity. Brilliant!
I don't find her inconsistent, like I did at times with Jane Eyre. I don't think she's afraid of people in general, because she was always waving out windows to strangers and such, but rather that she knows how inadequate she must look compared to the famous Rebecca. So people that personally knew and experienced Rebecca's kindness, graciousness, charm, beauty (continue ad nauseam) intimidated her because she was so insignificant. She's afraid to change anything in Manderley because if the sainted Rebecca did it, it must be perfect.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Ooh, Arielle, just wait!!!

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