Chapter 21 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 668

De Winter takes the telephone call in an adjoining room, and his wife hears the murmur of his voice as fear settles into the pit of her stomach. She is afraid that de Winter’s secret is about to be revealed; however, her overwhelming emotion is relief, knowing her husband has...

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De Winter takes the telephone call in an adjoining room, and his wife hears the murmur of his voice as fear settles into the pit of her stomach. She is afraid that de Winter’s secret is about to be revealed; however, her overwhelming emotion is relief, knowing her husband has never loved Rebecca. She no longer hates Rebecca now that she knows how vicious, rotten, and evil the woman had been. Her husband had never loved Rebecca, so Rebecca can no longer hurt her and she is free of the woman forever.

The telephone call is from Colonel Julyan, the local magistrate. He asked if it were possible de Winter made a mistake in identifying his wife’s body; de Winter said of course it was possible. Julyan will join de Winter and Captain Searle when Rebecca’s boat is raised tomorrow, as will Inspector Welch.

The telephone rings again. It is a reporter who wants to confirm that Rebecca’s body has been discovered in the sunken boat; de Winter does not confirm the rumor. The couple sits in the library, has dinner, and returns to the library, all without much talking. For once it is a comfortable silence between them, unmarred by Rebecca’s shadow.

It rains overnight, and it is early when de Winter joins the men at the bay. The girl takes firm control, for the first time, over household matters while she waits for her husband to return; she wonders why she ever thought it was such a difficult thing to do. Danvers confronts the girl with the rumors that Rebecca’s boat and body were found by the diver, but the girl firmly dismisses the housekeeper’s questions. The girl knows Danvers is her enemy and does not mind; however, she suspects Danvers may soon become de Winter’s enemy as well.

The girl receives a call from her husband telling her he will bring all the men and Crawley to lunch at Manderley but tells her nothing except that they were able to raise the boat. When the men arrive, Julyan seeks her out to express his sympathy and concern over the misidentification; the girl reacts as if the information is all new to her.

At lunch, the group talks about inconsequential things until Julyan again expresses the awkwardness of de Winter’s false identification of his wife. Crawley quickly says it is not surprising, as de Winter was not fit, at the time, to undertake such an emotionally draining task, a fact de Winter claims is ridiculous. There will be a formal hearing and outrageous publicity, neither of which can be avoided. The hearing will be a quick but unpleasant process, and de Winter agrees and understands. Julyan says the only consolation is knowing Rebecca did not suffer as much as the unknown woman had; his theory is that Rebecca went below deck for something, the door jammed, and a squall hit the helmless boat. When Crawley agrees with this theory, the girl realizes that Crawley knows the truth—but de Winter does not know that Crawley knows. The inquest cannot be avoided, but Julyan is sympathetic and hopes that de Winter is able to forget about it quickly. The girl avoids Crawley’s eyes, not wanting him to see that she knows.

Once the others leave, de Winter expresses his confidence that all will be well. The bullet had not struck bone, so the examining doctor had no way of knowing Rebecca had been shot. Though de Winter tries to reassure his wife, she remains silent. Finally, de Winter says his only regret is what his actions have done to her; he is glad he killed Rebecca and will never feel remorse for this act. He regrets only that the girl he loves has lost the “funny, young, lost look” he so loved about her. In twenty-four hours, everything about their lives and relationship has changed, and the girl is much older today than she was just yesterday.

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