Chapter 22 Summary

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The news of Rebecca’s body being discovered headlines the local paper, and the staff at Manderley is distressed and shocked. The young girl knows she cannot ignore the news. Frith tells her the staff is willing to help however, they can, but Danvers has taken the news badly; the housekeeper went to her room right after lunch and has not been down since. Danvers seems quite ill.

After Frith leaves, the girl reads the awful newspaper story. It is true enough to be factual, yet it is “sprinkled with little inaccuracies” which give readers the titillation they so desire. All the papers make mention of the story, as both de Winter and Manderley are important to the region. As de Winter reads each account, he gets paler and curses them, but all his wife thinks about is how much worse the reaction would be if everyone knew the truth.

Crawley has had all calls to Manderley sent through to his office where he can deal with them and de Winter is not bothered. Crawley looks tired as he explains that he is telling their friends that the de Winters wish to be alone during this difficult time. All de Winter must worry about is the inquest and the coroner, a “sticky sort of chap” who likes to delve into irrelevant details to prove how thorough he is. Crawley just reminds his friend not to antagonize the man so everything will run smoothly and life can return to normal.

The more the girl thinks about it, the more convinced she is that Crawley has known the truth about Rebecca’s death from the beginning and has always tried to protect de Winter—though de Winter does not seem to realize this. All they can do now is wait. Danvers does not appear, and Clarice tells her mistress that the housekeeper does her work but stays to herself and speaks to no one.

It is still oppressively hot and the air is full of pent-up thunder. After a hurried lunch, the de Winters drive to the inquest and Crawley follows them. When they arrive, the girl decides she will not attend the proceedings; she waits in the car instead. After the men leave and she sits in the car for a while, she gets out of the car and walks for a bit. Soon she is inexorably drawn to the building where the inquest is being held. She is allowed in only because she is Mrs. de Winter. Since her husband has already testified, she does not mind hearing the rest of the evidence being given.

The inquest is nearly over, and she is startled to see Danvers and Favell sitting in the back of the room. The boat-builder is testifying and stubbornly insists that the boat he built for Rebecca would not have capsized easily, even unattended, in the slight wind blowing on the night she died. He goes on to explain that his reputation had been sullied by the apparent unseaworthiness of the boat, so when the craft was recovered he took the opportunity to examine the boat to satisfy himself that it had been sound. What he discovered is that someone drove holes into the bottom of the boat which caused it to sink; the holes were not made by rocks.

The coroner does not speak for a long time; then he asks the boat-builder for more details. The room is getting very hot to the young girl as the boat-maker explains specifically how he knows that someone deliberately scuttled Rebecca’s boat. The girl is suddenly hot and perspiring profusely, and...

(This entire section contains 791 words.)

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she feels like she did when Danvers wanted her to jump out of the window. The coroner asks de Winter if he knows anything about the holes in the bottom of his former wife’s boat, but he says he has now been shocked twice: once by his misidentification of the body and now by the news of foul play on her boat.

The coroner continues his questioning and de Winter’s answers begin to get a bit sharp; the girl silently pleads with her husband not to antagonize the man. Even de Winter agrees with the coroner that the circumstances of Rebecca’s death are quite strange, now the coroner says he must ask a painful but personal question. He asks whether “relations between him and the late Mrs. de Winter were perfectly happy.”

Suddenly the girl sees black spots before her eyes and the air grows even more hot and close; the door seems far away and the ground is coming up to meet her. She hears her husband’s strong voice asking someone to take his wife outside as she is about to faint. 


Chapter 21 Summary


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