Is the meaning of Rhett's confession of visiting a little boy in New Orleans?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Rhett Butler is shown to be a fairly complex character.  In a work where so many of the men are disturbingly one dimensional, Rhett is multi- layered and different facets of his character are revealed.  Perhaps, it is for this reason that Scarlett can never quite get a hold of who Rhett is, demonstrating that she is not the only complex character in the work.  Rhett's motivations for confessing the visiting of the little boy in New Orleans can reflect this complexity.  There is not much in way of definitive answers given, but I think that the underlying element is that it does show Rhett's complexity.  He does have a penchant for children, something that Belle will reaffirm in their discussions about he and Scarlett. Rhett's sensitive side to children is evoked in his confession, something that he must know will throw Scarlett for a loop because her thinking is embedded in the idea that men do not have the capacity to care for children. This gap in perception is evident in how Rhett takes care of Bonnie, something that Scarlett fails to grasp.  At the same time, his confession reflects a certain vulnerability in Captain Butler, a sensitive arena in a time period where sensitivity becomes challenged by so many.  He divulges this to Scarlett to make this evident to her, something that, in general, she fails to grasp until it is far too late.


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