Rebecca Chapter 7 Summary
- It's a rainy May morning when the narrator and Maxim set out from London to travel to Manderley.
- They arrive around 5:00PM. The narrator (we'll call her Mrs. de Winter now) is wearing school girl clothes and a big raincoat, not quite fancy enough for Manderley.
- Maxim told her that it would clear up after they left London, and he was right. She considers this a good sign.
- Before they arrive at Manderley, Mrs. de Winter is very nervous, and she wonders if Maxim knows it.
- Maxim lets her know when they are two miles away from Manderley. He points out the woods below them in the valley and the ocean beyond. He tells Mrs. de Winter that Manderley is inside the woods.
- Now her nerves and fears are stronger than her fantasies and excitement.
- Maxim says he should have arranged for her to shop in London; she says she doesn't care how she's dressed as long as he doesn't care either.
- They drive through the iron gates and past a small servants' cabin. Servants are peeping through the windows at Mrs. de Winter, and a little kid stares at her. Who's the celebrity now?
- Maxim says everybody's excited to see her, and that she just needs to be herself.
- Mrs. de Winter won't have to worry about housework, Maxim says. That's Mrs. Danvers' department.
- Mrs. Danvers is "an extraordinary character" (7. 15) who might be a little uptight with Mrs. de Winter at first, but she shouldn't worry about it. That's just how Mrs. Danvers is.
- The gate closes loudly behind them, and Maxim drives along the twisting, turning driveway toward the house. Mrs. de Winter is amazed by the almost supernatural looking "blood-red" (7.21) rhododendrons that surround them just before arriving at the house.
- She can't wait until she feels comfortable and at home at Manderley like Maxim does.
- Finally, they come to the house. She remembers the postcard of Manderley from her childhood.
- Maxim drives up to the front steps, and Mrs. de Winter can see that there's a bunch of people in the front room. Maxim curses Mrs. Danvers for gathering the entire staff of Manderley. She knows this isn't what he wants. Rebellious one, she is.
- The butler, Frith, and a footman come and help Mrs. de Winter out of the car. Nervous in her school girl clothes, she looks at the crowd.
- Soon a woman comes out of the crowd. She has a white "skull's face" and a "skeleton's" body (7.32). She's wearing all black. It's Mrs. Danvers. She shakes Mrs. de Winter's hand, and Maxim introduces her to his new wife.
- Mrs. Danvers' hand is "cold" (7.33) and "dead" (7.34), and she is staring into Mrs. de Winter's eyes frighteningly.
- The narrator blushes intensely when Mrs. Danvers talks to her; she's sure Mrs. Danvers thinks she's "ill-bred" (7.35). This woman makes her really uncomfortable.
- Luckily, Maxim takes her up to the lush library, where she stretches out near the fire.
- A mother cocker spaniel and her pup, Jasper, greet Maxim and then check out Mrs. de Winter. Jasper likes her, but his mother isn't so sure. Next, Firth and the footman come in and serve tea and crumpets.
- While Maxim reads his mail, Mrs. de Winter thinks about the honeymoon they just had:
- They traveled through France and Italy, and the weeks flew by. The real Maxim shined through; he was always laughing, and he seemed happy and young.
- During these weeks, Maxim was Mrs. de Winter's "lover" and her "friend" (7.41). She didn't even think about the fact that he has "a life, orderly, methodical, a life which must be taken up again" (7.41).
- Now, watching him open mail, she thinks of how close she came to being just another person who sends him letters, a person living in New York with Mrs. Van Hopper, waiting in vain for letters from Maxim.
- Mrs. de Winter looks around at the library and tries to feel confident. She fantasizes about getting old with Maxim in this house. She imagines sons they'll have who will bring mud and fun into the house.
- Frith interrupts her daydream with a message that Mrs. Danvers would like to show her to her rooms.
- Maxim asks Frith how things are going in the east wing, and Mrs. de Winter learns that this east wing, which has "a lovely view of the rose-garden" (7.50), has been remodeled for her and Maxim.
- It's time for Mrs. de Winter to go and "make friends with Mrs. Danvers" (7.51). Maxim will join in a minute.
- Frith takes her to the stairs where the skull-faced Mrs. Danvers is waiting. Mrs. de Winter walks up to her and says, "I hope I haven't kept you waiting" (7.57).
- Mrs. Danvers says, "It's for you to make your own time, Madam […]. I'm here to carry out your orders," (7.58). Sweet deal. Mrs. Danvers leads her down some halls, through a door, down some stairs, then up some stairs, and through another door to the east wing. (Yikes. From homeless to this? Not a bad deal.)
- Our narrator looks out the window at the rose garden and remarks that there's no ocean view, but that she still likes the rooms. She learns that this is the first time Maxim is using the rooms in the east wing.
- Mrs. Danvers tells Mrs. de Winter that she will need a personal maid, and our narrator asks for a young girl who's still in training.
- Some quick background information: Frith has been at Manderley since Maxim was a child, and Mrs. Danvers came to Manderley with Rebecca.
- As Mrs. Danvers tells our narrator this seemingly little tidbit, a big change comes over her. The color in her cheeks reveals her true feelings. It's clear she doesn't like Mrs. de Winter because she isn't "a great lady" (7.81).
- But is it more than that? Is there also "malice" (7.81) involved? Does Mrs. Danvers wish her harm? Spooky.
- She doesn't want Mrs. Danvers to see how little she trusts her. The set of hairbrushes Maxim bought her is unpacked, so she brushes her hair.
- Our narrator tells Mrs. Danvers that she hopes they can be friends. She asks her to just give her a chance to adjust, and they decide that Mrs. Danvers will stay in charge of the house.
- Mrs. Danvers says the rooms in the west wing are much bigger and better than these rooms in the east wing. In fact, there's a room in the west wing that's "the most beautiful room in the house" (7.95). It's huge, and it overlooks the ocean. It was Rebecca's room. (Tough luck, Mrs. de Winter.)
- Now Maxim comes in and asks Mrs. de Winter if she likes the room. He's smiling and looks excited. He compliments Mrs. Danvers on the redecoration and she leaves.
- He tells his new bride how happy he is to have this room. He loves the roses, and he's glad it's quiet here and that you can't hear the ocean. He asks Mrs. de Winter if she and Mrs. Danvers hit it off.
- She complains a little, and Mr. de Winter says they can always fire Mrs. Danvers if she's too much of a problem. But for now they can put up with her, since she's so good at running the house. Can't live with her, can't live without her.
- Mrs. de Winter says she's afraid Mrs. Danvers would think she is too bossy.
- Yeah right, he says. It seems like he's about to contrast her with someone really bossy, but then he stops.
- He comes close to her and kisses the top of her head.
- The rest of the day is peaceful. Maxim gives her the tour of Manderley, and they have a casual dinner.
- It feels like it did when they were on their honeymoon.
- That evening, they relax in the library, Maxim absorbed in a newspaper and Mrs. de Winter chilling out in a chair with Jasper the dog nearby. Mrs. de Winter realizes this scene has been played out before, but it was Rebecca sitting here instead of her. The thought gives her the chills. Us, too.
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