Chapter 5 Summary

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The girl is glad that first love can happen only once, because it is a fever and a burden. Whenever Van Hopper asks what she has been doing with her time, she lies to her employer and tells her she is taking tennis lessons. Though she does not remember much about Monte Carlo, the girl does remember her days there were filled with passion: trembling fingers, impatient elevator rides, de Winter’s smile as he waited for her in his car. She remembers the schoolgirl thrill of wearing his jacket when it got a little chilly. Whether they talk or not does not matter to them.

She tells de Winter she wishes memories could be bottled up so they would never grow stale and could be relived any time. He is silent but finally asks which moments in her young life she would save. Now, she tells him, this moment. The girl decides never to tell Van Hopper about any of her time with de Winter; the woman would be condescending and assume that de Winter was only taking pity on her, degrading the entire experience.

The girl tells de Winter that he knows everything about her and she knows nothing about him. He is silent for a while but then pulls the car over and tells her he does not want to save any of his memories. Something bad happened a year ago and he wants to forget everything about his life up to that time. He must begin his life all over again, and he is in Monte Carlo to try to forget, though it does not always work.

He and his wife were once at the summit he drove the girl to, the one on which he was lost in thought. What he discovered was that there was absolutely no record of their having been there together. Now, he says, the young girl has done more to ease his past than anything else; he would have left long ago if she had not been here. He has not been offering her charity, and if she thinks that, he tells her to walk home. After some silence, she asks him to take her back to the hotel. Their romantic drive has lost its glow and she silently cries, too proud even to reach for the handkerchief in her pocket.

Suddenly de Winter takes her hand and kisses it; he says nothing, but he puts his handkerchief in her lap. She is too ashamed to touch it. The thought of going back to the rumpled, disheveled sickroom is stifling, and she knows she will soon become the slave of her employer again. Finally she blows her nose, feeling an enormous gap between the two of them. He tells her she may be young enough to be his daughter and does not know how to deal with her, but he pulls her next to him and puts his arm around her. He tells her his family calls him Maxim and she should do the same. He asks her to forget everything he said that morning, and suddenly her world is shining once again.

She is almost happy enough to consider telling Van Hopper about de Winter but does not. When Van Hopper casually asks whether de Winter is still at the hotel, the girl is afraid that someone may have seen the two of them together and told her employer; however, Van Hopper talks about Rebecca. De Winter’s first wife was always “exquisitely turned out, and brilliant in every way.” She hosted big parties at Manderley and her husband adored her.

That evening, the girl is lost in her thoughts, “following a phantom in her mind” about Mrs. de Winter. Others call him Maxim, but the book under her pillow tells her that Rebecca called him Max, as if he were her possession. Though Rebecca had been familiar with everything about de Winter, she has to call him Maxim. 

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