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Archives > The truth about Rebecca (chapters 19-27)

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Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Discussion of the final chapters of Rebecca, in which the readers discover along with the narrator the truth about Maxim's first wife.

My edition has du Maurier's original epilogue. If anyone is reading a version without it and wants to know what it says, message me.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
MAJOR SPOILERS! Do not read unless you have finished the book!

Did you see the first big twist coming (that Maxim shot Rebecca)? What did you think when you read it?

Did the revelation of Rebecca’s true nature surprise you, or did the hints given by Frank and Ben give it away?

What do you think about Maxim’s murder of Rebecca? Was he justified because Rebecca was so evil? Did she orchestrate the whole thing, because she knew she was dying anyway, in order to get Maxim to hang for her murder?

What do you think is the significance of the fire?

Joey (joeymporter) | 10 comments I wasn't surprised about Rebecca's true nature. I imagined that it was a possibility from the beginning and then did notice the comments about her, especally from Ben. Not so much Frank. I found his behaviour to be more ambiguous.

I was a little surprised that it was Maxim who killed her though. I thought maybe Ben had killed her accidentally or one of her lovers...

I don't think that the murder was justified. I can see how people might resort to murder in a fit of "passion" and they cannot see straight, but I still don't think it was justified. I was happy to see him get away with it, but I still don' think that it was right.

I don't know if Rebecca orchestrated the entire thing, but I do think that when Maxim showed up angry she took advantage of him and stoked his anger in order to make him retaliate. I think she had fun doing it, but I'm not sure she would have known that he would have killed her from the onset. I think she just took advantage of the situation accordingly and used his anger for her own ends.

The significance of the fire...hmmmm. Maybe it was symbolic as rebirth for the narrator and Maxim. Rebecca permeated the building and grounds and now she was truly gone from their lives. They needed to make a fresh start somewhere.

message 4: by Alison (last edited Feb 22, 2008 07:26AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars


I think the author was careful to be ambigious, if not misleading about what the other characters knew about Rebecca. For example, I think she almost leads us to believe that Frank was in love with Rebecca because no one could escape her beauty and talent, etc. This causes the narrator to sink even deeper into her shell, thinking that she could never live up to Rebecca. I thought Ben's word's (i.e. "she's never coming back") were a bit obvious clues...but it's hard to judge if you already know the story.

I think Rebecca's true nature was surprising--and such a direct contrast to the way the narrator had imagined her to be.

Yeah...that bugged me a little. No matter how nasty Rebecca was...(reminded me of a line from 3:10 to Yuma..."there's a difference in wishing someone dead and actually killing them.") But I guess this was how Rebecca & Max came to be equals (as did Jane & Mr. Rochester via his blinding and crippling). He comes to accept all of her insecurities and begins to actually need her, as she must accept all of his shortcomings (nasty temper, impulsive, MURDEROUS even) and love him through it. Still, in the end, the man gets away with murder. But, it's Laurence Olivier (in my head at least) let him have it. :)

Not sure if Rebecca planned it, but I do think she won in the end...she didn't have to suffer the slow, drawn out death that she had told Mrs. Danvers she feared. It was quick and painless, AND she ended up making Max suffer to boot, which she seemed to enjoy.

The fire: I agree with the rebirth. Do Mrs. Danvers & Rebecca TRULY win, then, in the end? By destroying what Max loved so much? By saying, "I may be gone, but you will never have this life at Manderly without me?" Depends on how you look at it. Maybe Max & Narrator are better off without it.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
In the movie version, Max isn't a murderer. The censors wouldn't approve a portrayal of someone getting away with murder so they made Rebecca's death accidental.

message 6: by Alison (last edited Feb 22, 2008 09:15AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Alison I didn't remember that about the movie. It's been years. Yes, Mercedes, Rebecca is worth your time. :)

Joey (joeymporter) | 10 comments I haven't seen the movie yet. But I am definitely looking forward to it. Interesting about the fact that it was censored.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Before the MPAA ratings system was in place there was a production code which said what could and could not be portrayed on film.

Alison Did you guys see "Rebecca" in the "80 Years of Best Pictures" montage at the Oscars? I had forgotten or didn't realize it was Best Picture.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod

My comment was less than 5 characters so here are a few more.

Chrissie I would really appreciate if you could send the epilogue to me. Thank you!

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Chris, right now I have the flu and just don't have the energy to retype it all. I'll get it to you when I'm feeling better.

Chrissie Sarah, absolutely no rush! Get better first! Thanks!

message 14: by Arielle (last edited Apr 02, 2008 08:18PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Arielle | 5 comments This book was fabulous. I didn't see Maxim killing her, but wasn't really too surprised. The fire as rebirth idea discussed above is great! It's clever the way du Maurier describes the fire without actually describing the fire. She's a genius!
Does anyone know if the author was influenced at all by Jane Eyre? There are so many similarities, but at the same time, it's a completely original story.
Also, I had no idea about the Production Code - interesting! It proves that I'm really old fashioned, because I actually liked many of those rules - maybe I need to spend more time watching classics than big budget big publicity blockbusters!
Sarah, thanks for the wikipedia link! And if you have a saved version of the epilogue to Rebecca I'd love to read it. But if you'd have to type it all over again again, don't worry about - that sounds like a pain.
On a side note, Argh! The one time Netflix doesn't have a movie, it would have to be the original Rebecca! They have the 1997 Masterpiece Theater one, is that one any good?

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
Arielle, thanks for reminding me about the epilogue. I need to get with the program and get it typed up.

So, what did you think of the narrator after she found out the truth about Rebecca's character?

Arielle | 5 comments I still liked our friend Narrator. Although it was interesting that she didn'tcare as much that Maxim had taken a human life as she cared that Maxim never loved Rebecca. I would probably be very careful never to get into fights with my dh if he was a confessed murderer. All in all, I'm really glad they lived happily ever after.
But, earlier in my reading of the book, I would see conversations with Frank Crawley and wonder if it was him that she was with in chapter one. Like something went terribly wrong and she and Maxim couldn't work it out and she ended up falling in love with Frank. That wouldn't have been a terrible ending I don't think. Throughout most of the book, I wasn't ever sure that Maxim really did care for her beyond the feeling one has for a dear pet. Those are just examples of the author's talent for ambiguity. She kept it so vague, and SO interesting.
And as someone remarked earlier (maybe in another thread), it's fascinating that many of our glimpses into these people's lives are actually scenarios that exist only in Narrator's imagination.

Sarah (songgirl7) | 284 comments Mod
I think that's why we could never really be sure of Maxim's love for her. Because she was telling the story, and she wasn't even sure of it.

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