Rebecca Questions and Answers
by Daphne Du Maurier

Start Your Free Trial

Did Max de Winter kill Rebecca?

Expert Answers info

D. Reynolds eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2016

write11,094 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Social Sciences

Near the end of the novel, Max de Winter confesses to his second, unnamed wife that he killed Rebecca. We only hear Max's side of the story, as told to us by a wife who wants very much to believe his version of events. In this version, Max, though anguished, very much justifies the murder as deserved.

Why was he justified in killing Rebecca? First, he tells the second Mrs. de Winter that Rebecca was unfaithful to him. They had worked out a deal in which she would pretend to be the perfect wife and hostess as long as he did not interfere with her various affairs. However, rumors of her affairs reached Max's ears, indicating that Rebecca was not maintaining her end of the bargain. When Max confronted her at the boathouse where she had been meeting her lovers, he told her he was going to divorce her.

Not about to be bested—and terminally ill with cancer, though Max did not yet know this—Rebecca told him she was having her cousin Jack's child and that Max would have to raise it as his own. Driven to rage, Max shot Rebecca, then took her corpse out on a boat and contrived to make her death look like a suicide.

According the second Mrs. de Winters, Max was manipulated into killing Rebecca by Rebecca, who wanted to die. The second Mrs. de Winters also finds the revelation that Max is a murderer brings the two closer together as she pledges to stand by her man.

The second Mrs. de Winters paints Rebecca as an evil, heartless woman. As we have no other version of the story, hers is the one we tend to believe. However, we might also question a man who felt it was permissible to kill a wife for infidelity.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial

Madeleine Wells eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2015

write3,263 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

The short answer is yes.

In the story, Rebecca is Maxim de Winter's first wife. She dies after Max shoots her.

Accordingly, Max and Rebecca had an unhappy marriage. When Rebecca was alive, she engaged in sexual affairs with different men. Max looked the other way as long as Rebecca was discreet and did not embarrass him. However, Rebecca soon became complacent and careless. She carried on her affairs openly, which upset Max greatly.

In due time, Rebecca had an affair with Jack Favell, a cousin of hers. When Max confronted Rebecca about it, she taunted him. During their confrontation at the cottage, Rebecca also revealed that the child she was carrying was Favell's. Max became so angry at the revelation that he shot Rebecca through the heart.

Then, he took the boat out and deposited Rebecca's body in the boat's cabin. According to the text, Max sunk the boat in the bay that night. So, Max de Winter killed Rebecca because he felt that she had betrayed him.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial