Chapter 2 Summary

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Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 769

It is certain that they can never go back to Manderley again, for the past is still too close to them. Everything they have tried to put behind them would be stirred up again; the unrest and “blind, unreasoning panic” would again be their constant companions. De Winter is patient...

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It is certain that they can never go back to Manderley again, for the past is still too close to them. Everything they have tried to put behind them would be stirred up again; the unrest and “blind, unreasoning panic” would again be their constant companions. De Winter is patient and uncomplaining, but she knows he remembers more often than he tells her.

Suddenly he will look puzzled and a cold, lifeless mask will close over his face; he will smoke ceaselessly and talk quickly about anything in an attempt to ease the pain. It is said that people who endure great suffering emerge stronger and better for having experienced it, and this has happened to them. Both of them have known fear and tragedy. At some point in life, everyone experiences a tribulation that must be battled through and endured, and they have done this and conquered the thing that most tormented them. They are not unscathed from the battle and have paid dearly for their freedom, but they currently have peace.

They have no more secrets between them. The woman and de Winter are living a simple life in a small hotel. If they stayed in any of the grand hotels, he would certainly meet too many people he knows. Even if they are sometimes bored, they know that boredom is a “pleasing antidote to fear.” In their simple routine, she reads aloud to him, and the only time he gets impatient is when the postman is late in delivering their mail from England.

They are entertained by even the most insignificant news found in the papers and magazines from England, and so often are transported in their minds from this “indifferent island” to the English spring countryside. Once she read an article about wood pigeons and was amazed that it took her immediately back to the deep woods of Manderley, where she once saw a family of pigeons agitated into flight by Jasper’s loping gait as he came to find her. Once the birds were gone, she grew uneasy for no apparent reason and walked with the dog back to the house, hating her need to walk quickly and take one quick glance behind her.

She has learned to keep these memories to herself; she will read him all manner of English news but will not share what she remembers. Her hobby is not an exciting one, but she is a fount of information about the English countryside: every owner of every British moor, everything about the animals and fish, every meet and run, and even the names of those who walk their dogs. She knows the price of cattle, the condition of the crops, the sicknesses of pigs—and she loves all of it.

Because she has these things to consume her thoughts, she is able to enjoy her afternoons. They have tea at precisely the same time every day, just as they did in Manderley. Each tea there was a sumptuous affair, and often she worried about their wastefulness, though she never dared to ask Mrs. Danvers what happened to the leftovers. She would have scorned her new mistress, saying archly that the first Mrs. de Winter never had any complaints about the food. It was Danvers’ face that gave her the first feeling of unrest, and she wonders what Danvers and Favell are doing now. It does not matter anymore. Jasper is gone and the others are free.

Manderley is dead now, and the sound of leaves rustling is much like the stealthy movement of a woman in evening dress, and the mark in the gravel driveway could have been made by a high-heeled shoe. When she thinks about these things, she looks out over her balcony and composes herself again. She is more confident now, perhaps because de Winter is so dependent on her. She must have seemed so unpoised and diffident when she arrived at Manderley, a stark contrast to Rebecca.

Before coming to Manderley, she is a young, inexperienced girl following timidly in Mrs. Van Hopper's wake. Everywhere they go, servants and waiters recognize the girl's inferior position and give her the worst food and shoddy treatment. At lunch one day, the grandiose woman is watching, as she always does, for anyone of importance to arrive; unconscious of Van Hopper’s rude and obvious stare, a man sits at the table next to them. The excited woman tells the girl it is Max de Winter, the man who owns the famous Manderley. Van Hopper thinks he looks ill; people say that he cannot recover from his wife’s death. 

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