Study Guide

Rebecca Chapter 17

By Daphne du Maurier

Chapter 17

  • Mrs. de Winter tears off her clothes when she gets to her room. Clarice tries to help her, crying quietly.
  • Our narrator assures the young maid that she's not to blame for the trouble, but she asks Clarice to leave her alone for now. She promises she's okay, and asks Clarice to not tell anyone how she ripped off the dress. Mrs. de Winter also tells the whimpering Clarice to not cry in front of people.
  • Soon Beatrice comes in and tells her what the heck is going on. It turns out Rebecca wore the exact same dress last year for the costume ball. When Mrs. de Winter first came walking down the stairs in it, they thought – (Beatrice doesn't finish her sentence).
  • Argh!
  • Mrs. de Winter says she should have known Rebecca wore the same dress.
  • Now Maxim thinks that our narrator wore the dress on purpose to shock him. Beatrice assures her that Mrs. de Winter will be able to explain herself later.
  • The helpful Beatrice finds a pretty blue dress and tells Mrs. de Winter that she should change into it, come downstairs, and greet the guests, for Maxim's sake.
  • Mrs. de Winter says she's not coming down. No way.
  • Beatrice insists, saying that the guests will all be here soon, and that she is obligated to greet them. None of them will even know about the dress: Frank and Giles won't tell anyone. They'll spread the word that the shop sent her the wrong dress, and no one will suspect anything.
  • Soon, Giles comes up: Maxim wants to know when Mrs. de Winter will be coming back down.
  • Beatrice covers for her, asking Giles to tell Maxim that Mrs. de Winter isn't feeling well, but that she will come down as soon as she can. In the meantime, Beatrice will handle the guests.
  • After Beatrice leaves, Mrs. de Winter thinks of the awful look on Maxim's face when he saw her in the dress. She looks out the window and sees workers setting up chairs; if only she were one of them.
  • She imagines the workers gossiping with other servants about her: they're probably comparing her to Rebecca, saying her marriage is in trouble, and assuming that Maxim is regretting marrying her.
  • Mrs. de Winter grabs the blue dress Beatrice selected and irons it. She puts it on with the matching shoes, brushes her hair, washes her face, and goes to join the party. Deep breath.
  • Dinner is about to be over, and she walks down to the dining room to meet everyone as they come out.
  • All night, she's on the fringe of the party. She eyes the people dancing, and watches Frith and Robert move among the guests. Beatrice spends a lot of time dancing and sends smiles Mrs. de Winter's way. Giles compliments her dress.
  • Everyone's actually being super nice to her. In fact, Frank even brings her food and drinks, but she refuses it.
  • Frank, wearing an eye patch with his pirate costume, mingles with the crowd, making sure everything's running smoothly.
  • The band plays, and the guests dance. Maxim stands next to his wife, but he has a wall up – he won't even look at her or touch her.
  • Some guests comment on the terrible mix-up with the dress shop over her gown. Looks like they bought it.
  • Frank offers her more food and drinks, and he tries to get her to dance.
  • At one point Beatrice tells her, "Why don't you sit down? You look like death" (17.129). Way to be super blunt, B.
  • Soon the fireworks display begins, and Mrs. de Winter watches from the terrace.
  • Eventually, to Mrs. de Winter's great relief, the guests start to leave.
  • Frank and Maxim go down to the driveway to see everybody off.
  • Beatrice tells Mrs. de Winter that everybody was thrilled with the party, and nobody has any idea about the incident from earlier in the evening. No worries. Mrs. de Winter should just go to bed and sleep late in the morning.
  • Sure enough, she heads to bed, exhausted, waiting for Maxim.
  • She watches the clock handles spin (worst bedtime idea ever), but Maxim never comes to bed.