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by Daphne du Maurier

Rebecca Chapter 4 Summary

  • The next day, Mrs. Van Hopper is sick with a fever. The doctor says she has the flu and has to stay in bed. A nurse is hired to care for her.
  • So the narrator goes to the dining room to eat lunch, getting there early to avoid the crowd. She's surprised to find Mr. de Winter in the dining room and considers bolting so he doesn't think she's stalking him. (We all know the feeling.)
  • She sits down at her table and promptly turns over a vase, spilling water. Oops. Okay, now she can be embarrassed.
  • Mr. de Winter comes over to her, cleans the water, and asks her to have lunch with him.
  • When she protests, he promises he's not just being polite. He would have invited her even if she hadn't been clumsy. Aw, how sweet.
  • He asks the narrator about Mrs. van Hopper and learns she's down with the flu.
  • He mentions the note he sent to the narrator, and he apologizes again for being so rude, referring to his snide remarks at Mrs. Van Hopper. He's so happy to have the narrator for lunch.
  • Our narrator says she doesn't think he was rude. She also explains that Mrs. Van Hopper treats all important people that way and doesn't mean to be rude the way she is.
  • Coy man that he is, Mr. de Winter asks why he's important; the narrator says it's probably because he's the owner of Manderley.
  • There's a lull in the conversation; now the narrator feels like she's brought up something private that he doesn't want to talk about. That's awkward.
  • While they eat, our narrator remembers buying a painted postcard of Manderley when she was on a family vacation as a kid.
  • Soon, Mr. de Winter asks her questions about Mrs. Van Hopper. He learns that the narrator is Mrs. Van Hopper's paid companion (not as sketchy as it sounds, we promise). The narrator's family is dead, and she needs the money.
  • Mr. de Winter tells the narrator she has "a very lovely and unusual name" (4.33). (We wish we knew her name so we didn't have to keep calling her our narrator!) She responds that her "father was a lovely and unusual person" (4.44). Mr. de Winter asks about her father.
  • She usually doesn't talk about him, but she finds herself talking easily to Mr. de Winter about her past. She tells him about her father's losing battle with pneumonia and her mother's subsequent death five weeks later. Depressing stuff.
  • The narrator realizes that they've been talking for over an hour and that she's been totally dominating the conversation. She gets embarrassed and flustered.
  • He won't let her apologize, and he tells her that this is the most fun he's had in a long time. She's made him forget the problems he's been focusing on for the past year.
  • This man seems "more modern, more human" (4.41) now and she believes what he says.
  • Mr. de Winter says that he and the narrator are alike because they "are both alone in the world" (4.42). Okay, he does have a sister and a grandmother, but nobody to hang out with.
  • But wait. The narrator reminds him of one little difference: he has a home, and she is homeless. Oops. She feels like she's said the wrong thing.
  • Mr. de Winter says an empty house can be very lonely. The narrator thinks he might talk about Manderley now, but he just asks what she'll do with her time off from Mrs. Van Hopper.
  • She says she wants to sketch a street in Monaco.
  • Mr. de Winter volunteers to drive her and the narrator is psyched. Mr. de Winter feels like a good friend already, like a brother, or someone she's always known.
  • With Mr. de Winter, she feels like she's maturing, leaving behind the shy, nervous girl she was before.
  • It's too windy to sketch in Monaco, and Mr. de Winter speeds them up some dangerous mountain road. The wind is in their hair, and they are laughing and excited. (We think we've seen this in a movie…) After a while, Mr. de Winter becomes serious and quiet.
  • They arrive at the top of the mountain road and get out of the car to look down at the ocean below them.
  • It's cold now, and the mood has changed. The narrator asks Mr. de Winter if he's been here before.
  • He seems far away, and she gets a little nervous, since one false move would send her crashing to her. She wonders if he's crazy and asks if they should go home.
  • Whew. Nothing's wrong with him. He's not crazy, he was just spacing out. He apologizes for scaring her. They get back in the car, and he puts them very carefully back on the road.
  • Turns out he has been here before, many years ago. He wanted to see if it's different now, but it's not.
  • As he drives, he finally talks about Manderley. He doesn't talk about his life there, just how beautiful it is. He describes different flowers and how they look and smell.
  • When the car pulls up to the hotel, she reaches for her gloves and accidentally picks up a book of poems, too. Mr. de Winter tells her she can take it with her.
  • Unfortunately, he says he can't have dinner with her tonight.
  • Back in the hotel, the narrator feels lonely. She opens the poetry book and reads some verses of a poem called "The Hound of Heaven" (by Francis Thompson).
  • She wonders what made Mr. de Winter drive them up so high this afternoon, what memories haunt him, and why he keeps this book of poems in his car. He sure is a mystery man.
  • If only he weren't so distant; if only she were more elegant!
  • She also wonders why he's here at Monte Carlo if Manderley is so wonderful.
  • The narrator opens the book again and sees the dedication written on the title page: "Max— from Rebecca. 17 May" (4.91). She closes it quickly and picks up a magazine.
  • She can't concentrate on her mag. All she can think of are Mrs. Van Hopper's words from yesterday at lunch. Mrs. Van Hopper said that Mr. de Winter doesn't ever discuss his late wife or her death by drowning "in the bay near Manderley…" (4.93). And here we go again with the sad chapter endings.

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