Summary of the Novel
Gone with the Wind begins at Tara, the O’Hara family cotton plantation in Georgia, just prior to the Civil War. Hearing the news of Ashley’s engagement to Melanie, Scarlett O’Hara tricks Charles Hamilton into marrying her. After Charles’ death in the Confederate Army, Melanie (who returns to Atlanta after their marriage and Ashley’s enlistment) and Pittypat convince Scarlett to bring her baby for an extended stay. There, she becomes trapped by the war. On the night of Atlanta’s burning by the Union Army, with Melanie having just given birth, Scarlett realizes it is too dangerous to stay. She convinces Rhett Butler to steal a horse and wagon so they may return to Tara. They arrive, without Rhett, to find Ellen dead, Suellen and Carreen ill, Gerald out of his mind, no supplies or horses, very few slaves, and many of the neighboring plantations burned to the ground. On a return trip to Atlanta to raise the higher taxes newly demanded on Tara by the victors, Scarlett discovers Rhett is in jail. She sees him there and offers herself as collateral for the tax money. Although previously interested, his admiration for her now will not allow this, nor can he reach his money because of the political situation. Scarlett then lies to Frank Kennedy so that he will marry her. He has money and a store which promises more if Scarlett’s heartless and aggressive business methods are used. Having already been cast from society for her "unwidowlike" behavior, she has no reason not to pursue business. Marrying Frank means another separation from Tara since she will live at Pittypat’s house. Having promised herself she would never be hungry again, Scarlett finds another way of making money by buying and managing two saw mills. Afterwards, she borrows money from Rhett. Frank is not happy, but indulges her, thinking another baby will end such behavior. Ella is born but Scarlett does not convert to contentment with home and family. In Atlanta, Scarlett continues to do business, despite the dangers of Shantytown, an area through which she must travel inhabited by prostitutes, freed slaves, and lawbreakers. Archie refuses to continue as Scarlett’s bodyguard since she exploits ex-convicts who work in the mills. She is then accosted as she passes through Shantytown. Both Ashley and Frank are members of the Ku Klux Klan and feel they must protect her honor. In the fight, Frank is killed and Ashley wounded. Only Rhett’s warning and quick thinking save the rest. Widowed for the second time with two small children, Scarlett marries Rhett and befriends Scalawags and Carpetbaggers. She builds an imitation of southern society around her with Rhett’s money and these newly acquired friends. Upon Melanie’s death, Scarlett realizes she does not love Ashley but rather Rhett, only to learn that since the death of their daughter, Bonnie (for which Rhett blames himself), he has ceased to love her.
The Life and Work of Margaret Mitchell
Margaret Mitchell wrote only one book, Gone with the Wind, and won a Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1937, as well as the National Book Award. Written in 1936, Gone with the Wind set a sales record of 50,000 copies in one day and 1.5 million copies in its first year of publication, making it one of the most successful bestsellers ever written. It has been translated into at least 30 languages, including Braille (becoming the longest novel ever translated into this language). In 1939, the book was used as the basis of what is probably the most popular film ever made. Born in Atlanta, Georgia, which she uses for the setting of her story, on November 8, 1900, Ms. Mitchell wrote this novel over a period of 10 years, after her marriage to John March in 1925. During this time, she wove material from the stories of the Civil War she had heard at home (as the daughter of the president of the Atlanta Historical Society) into this historical novel of over 1,000 pages, written from the Southern point of view; local history had been a pervasive part of her childhood. The story, itself, begins just before the Civil War in 1861 and ends during the Reconstruction period. Her two main characters—Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler—are among the best-known in American literature. Although she attended Smith College during 1918-1919, when her mother died she returned home to keep house for her father and brother. On August 16, 1949, a car struck Ms. Mitchell, ending her life. In 1976, Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind Letters: 1936-1949 was published. A continuation of the novel, Scarlett: The Sequel to Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, written by Alexandra Ripley, was published in 1991.
In April 1861, the Civil War began when the Confederacy bombarded Fort Sumter in South Carolina. President Lincoln declared war, called for 75,000 volunteers (for 90-day enlistments), and blockaded Southern ports. Virginia, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Tennessee soon joined the Confederacy, while the border states of Maryland, Missouri, and Kentucky became a major concern for both presidents. In July of 1862, Lincoln announced the Emancipation Proclamation, dashing any hopes the Confederacy had of military aid from Great Britain or France, who could not support the endorsement of human bondage by the South (since they now saw the Civil War as a struggle to end slavery). Up to this point, the war had been seen as a means to save the Union. A military policy used by the North was to strip Southern plantations of their labor supply as an economic sanction. Another policy was the use of blockades which kept the cotton in, the foreign military supplies out, and hindered the South by cutting into the supply lines. The Confederacy was doing poorly before the war: currency was almost worthless since it had never been declared legal tender and shortages were rampant. When the war ended in 1865, the South was ravished: farms, homes, and places of business in ruins; people missing; the land and people exhausted; slavery demolished; and the great plantations gone. Lincoln had high hopes for the reconstruction of the South, beginning with his 1/10 Plan, according to which when one-tenth of the qualified Southern voters for the year 1860 took an oath of loyalty to the Constitution, they would be permitted to set up state governments and ask for recognition by the federal government. When this was done, he intended to use his presidential power of pardon to restore full rights. After Lincoln’s assassination, President Andrew Johnson continued this policy. By 1871, all the states were part of the federal government again. In March of 1867, Congress legislated dividing the South into five military districts, each commanded by a general. With Grant’s presidency, Northern carpetbaggers appeared throughout the South, occupying key offices and controlling the political apparatus. They were aided by Southern scalawags, there for their own personal gain. Buying and selling the votes of the newly enfranchised became common. When Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president in 1876, the last army units from the South were recalled, causing the entire false economy to collapse and reconstruction (which failed politically, socially, and economically) to end.
Master List of Characters
Archie—murderer freed from prison for agreeing to fight in the Confederate Army; Melanie employs him as a bodyguard for Scarlett in Atlanta.
Will Benteen—Confederate soldier left at Tara to convalesce from pneumonia; stays to work Tara into a functioning farm; eventually marries Suellen.
(Eugenie Victoria) Bonnie Blue Butler—Rhett and Scarlett’s daughter; deeply loved and indulged by Rhett; Scarlett’s favorite child.
Rhett Butler—Scarlett’s third husband; years before their marriage, befriends and falls in love with Scarlett due to his admiration for her hard business dealings and calculating mind; shunned by society for his scandalous behavior.
Dilcey—Pork’s wife; bought by Gerald from John Wilkes’ neighboring plantation, Twelve Oaks, to honor Pork’s request that the newlyweds may live together.
Mrs. Elsing, Mrs. Merriwether, and Mrs. Whiting—the leaders of Atlanta’s society.
Charles Hamilton—Scarlett’s first husband; tricked into marrying her as revenge when she realizes Ashley really is going to marry Melanie, Charles’ sister.
Henry Hamilton—Charles and Melanie’s uncle; constantly at odds with his sister, Pittypat; the family lawyer.
(Sarah Jane) Pittypat Hamilton—Charles and Melanie’s spinster aunt; Scarlett lives with her in Atlanta while mourning Charles’ death; Ashley, India, and Honey Wilkes’ cousin.
Wade Hampton Hamilton—Scarlett and Charles’ son; born after Charles’ death of pneumonia following measles while serving in the Confederate Army.
Ella Lorena Kennedy—Frank and Scarlett’s daughter.
Frank Kennedy—Scarlett’s second husband; owns a store in Atlanta; was engaged to Scarlett’s sister, Suellen, for many years before Scarlett tricked him into marriage.
Mammy—body slave of Ellen O’Hara’s mother; raises Ellen, Ellen’s three daughters, and Scarlett’s children.
(Caroline Irene) Carreen O’Hara—the youngest of the three O’Hara sisters; becomes a nun after the death of her beloved, Brent Tarleton, in the Civil War.
Ellen Robillard O’Hara—Scarlett’s mother; a respected woman who raises her daughters to be Southern ladies.
Gerald O’Hara—Scarlett’s father; an Irish immigrant and self-made man.
(Katie) Scarlett O’Hara—the protagonist of the novel; born to the luxury of pre-Civil War plantation life in Georgia; eldest daughter of Gerald and Ellen O’Hara; wife of Charles Hamilton, Frank Kennedy, and Rhett Butler; mother of Wade Hampton Hamilton, Ella Lorna Kennedy, and Eugenie Victoria Butler.
(Susan Elinor) Suellen O’Hara—Scarlett’s younger sister; engaged to Frank Kennedy for many years before Scarlett marries him; marries Will Benteen.
Uncle Peter—Pittypat’s faithful slave.
Pork—Gerald O’Hara’s body slave; survives both Gerald and Ellen; continues to help keep the family plantation, Tara, from falling into Union hands during the Civil War years.
Prissy—Dilcey’s daughter; also purchased by Gerald as a surprise for Pork when he buys Dilcey.
Ashley Wilkes—a neighbor Scarlett convinces herself she loves although he is to marry his cousin from Atlanta, Melanie Hamilton.
(Beauregard) Beau Wilkes—Ashley and Melanie’s only child; born during the burning of Atlanta by the Union Army.
Honey Wilkes—one of Ashley’s sisters.
India Wilkes—another of Ashley’s sisters; becomes one of Scarlett’s many enemies in Atlanta.
(Melanie) Melly Hamilton Wilkes—Ashley’s wife; becomes Scarlett’s greatest defender and sister-in-law when Scarlett marries Melanie’s brother, Charles.
Estimated Reading Time
This is a lengthy book which takes some time to read. We would suggest finding your own pace and reading the book over a period of perhaps 40 hours. Break this into manageable reading periods, five or so chapters at a sitting, to allow yourself to complete the book without reading too much at a time.
Summary (Identities & Issues in Literature)
Gone with the Wind, perhaps the most famous American novel of the twentieth century, tells the story of Scarlett O’Hara, a Southern woman trying to maintain her identity as her world is torn apart by the United States Civil War. Upon publication, the novel attained instant popularity, and the premiere of the film version in 1939 met with equal enthusiasm.
The story begins when Scarlett, at age sixteen, experiences the first real disappointment of her pampered life. Ashley Wilkes, the man she loves, marries Melanie Hamilton, a soft-spoken and gentle woman whom Scarlett despises. Scarlett irrationally marries Melanie’s brother, but he dies a few months later, leaving Scarlett to discover that widowhood is the...
(The entire section is 427 words.)
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Scarlett O’Hara, sixteen years old, is the most popular belle in Clayton County, Georgia, where her family’s plantation, Tara, is located. The daughter of fiery Gerald O’Hara and Ellen Robillard O’Hara, Scarlett has her father’s courage and temper, which her genteel mother and her slave Mammy try to “refine.”
The best families in the county are invited to nearby Twelve Oaks plantation for Ashley Wilkes’s birthday party in April, 1861, where talk concerns whether the South would secede from the Union. Ashley announces his engagement to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton. When Scarlett tells Ashley she loves him, he says that Wilkeses always marry cousins. Scarlett later realizes that Rhett Butler, a scoundrel...
(The entire section is 974 words.)
Chapter Summary and Analysis
Chapter 1 Summary and Analysis
Scarlet O’Hara: the protagonist of the novel
Mammy: Scarlett’s mother’s body slave
Scarlett O’Hara is discussing with the twins Stuart and Brent Tarleton, her neighbors with whom she flirts despite not being interested in marrying either, their expulsion from the fourth college in two years. They insist it does not matter because the Civil War will soon start. They also tell Scarlett that Ashley plans to announce his engagement to Melanie at a ball the next night. Upon hearing this, Scarlett neglects to invite them to dinner, earning her a lecture on hospitality from Mammy, her mother’s body (or personal) slave. The boys leave accompanied by their...
(The entire section is 214 words.)
Chapter 2 Summary and Analysis
Ellen O’Hara: Scarlett’s mother
Gerald O’Hara: Scarlett’s father
After the Tarleton twins leave, Mammy chastises Scarlett for not inviting them to supper and being out in the night air without her shawl. Scarlett realizes it is time for her father to come home and goes to the cedars at the end of the drive to meet him privately. As she waits, she contemplates wanting Ashley and his plans to marry Melanie. Her father arrives drunk and jumps the fence even though he broke his knee doing so the previous year. In return for Scarlett not telling Ellen that Gerald has broken his promise not to jump, he verifies that Ashley’s father has told him of the...
(The entire section is 340 words.)
Chapters 3-5 Summary and Analysis
Pork: Gerald’s body slave
Dilcey: Pork’s wife
Prissy: Dilcey’s daughter
Suellen and Careen O’Hara: Scarlett’s two younger sisters
After hastily emigrating from Ireland under dubious circumstances when he was 21, Gerald O’Hara, a man without fortune or education, won an impoverished Tara during a drunken poker game, making a reality of his ambition to own a plan¬tation. Ten years later, realizing Tara needed a mistress and he a wife, he married Ellen Robillard, 28 years younger than he. She was from Savannah, where he had gone to ask his older brothers, James and Andrew, to help him find a wife.
After the death...
(The entire section is 579 words.)
Chapters 6-7 Summary and Analysis
Charles Hamilton: Scarlett’s first husband
Rhett Butler: a guest at the barbecue who watches Scarlett
Ashley Wilkes: a neighbor Scarlett convinces herself she is in love with
Honey and India Wilkes: Ashley’s sisters
Melanie Hamilton: Charles’ sister and future wife of Ashley
Wade Hampton Hamilton: Scarlett and Charles’ son, born after Charles’ death
Scarlett, who has previously stolen Honey Wilkes’ beau, Stuart Tarleton, begins flirting with Charles Hamilton, although he has an “understanding” with Honey. Rhett Butler watches Scarlett so boldly that she asks who he is, only to be told of his...
(The entire section is 705 words.)
Chapters 8-10 Summary and Analysis
Pittypat Hamilton: Charles and Melanie’s spinster aunt
Uncle Peter: Pittypat’s slave
Mrs. Elsing, Mrs. Merriwether, and Mrs. Whiting: the leaders of Atlanta’s society
Henry Hamilton: Pittypat’s lawyer brother
Uncle Peter, Pittypat’s slave turned “keeper” who practically raised Melanie and Charles since they were orphaned very young and had Pittypat come to live with them, meets Scarlett, Wade, and Prissy (who comes along as the baby’s nurse) at the train station, giving orders the second he lays eyes on them. Scarlett is surprised to see that Atlanta is no longer the little town she remembers, born only nine years later...
(The entire section is 982 words.)
Chapters 11-13 Summary and Analysis
A tired Scarlett returns from the hospital and secretly reads Melanie’s letters from Ashley. She is accustomed to doing so although she occasionally reminds herself that Ellen would not approve. She loses interest when she realizes Ashley is writing of possible defeat in the war. Scarlett is still convinced he loves her, but doesn’t know why she cannot understand him—his way of thinking or his actions.
Despite the deprivations of wartime and still wearing black clothes, Scarlett is happy to be out of mourning. The informality of wartime also greatly relaxes the rigid societal code of behavior; not only is Scarlett done with her formal mourning before the proscribed time, but she behaves as a...
(The entire section is 1101 words.)
Chapters 14-16 Summary and Analysis
Although the South continues to believe in its eventual victory, letters begin to trickle home from the soldiers asking for boots and supplies. News arrives of the fall of Vicksburgh to the west as Lee fights in Pennsylvania. Pittypat, Melanie, and Scarlett join the others at the offices of the newspaper to get news of Ashley.
Rhett joins them, announcing the first casualty lists have been sent to the newspapers and are being printed. He fights the crowd to bring them the first galley proofs. Ashley’s name is not on the casualty list, although the following are: Dallas McLure; Darcy Meade; Raiford Calvert; Joe Fontaine; LaFayette Munroe; and Brent, Stuart, and Thomas Tarleton. Rhett leaves to tell...
(The entire section is 830 words.)
Chapters 17-18 Summary and Analysis
While the people of Atlanta assure themselves the Confederacy will not allow this all important city to be attacked, Mrs. Meade worries that her younger son, Phil, will have to fight; the wounded Captain Ashburn realizes his courtship of Scarlett is not progressing; Rhett and Wade continue developing a fondness for each other; and Pittypat has a dinner party to share the last remaining fowl—a rooster. Rhett arrives uninvited, despite the hard feelings the other guests have for him, and is reluctantly invited to stay.
As the enemy attacks closer to home, at New Hope Church, the homes of Atlanta are flooded with wounded since the hospitals become overloaded. Pittypat protests when it is her turn to...
(The entire section is 685 words.)
Chapters 19-22 Summary and Analysis
Scarlett is terrified as shells burst overhead and Melanie’s due date draws near. Prissy assures Scarlett she can manage the birth since her mother is a midwife. Scarlett longs to go home but doesn’t, only because of her promise to Ashley. She finds Wade troublesome in his fear and plans to have Prissy deliver him to Tara, then return to Atlanta in time for the birth but travel becomes too dangerous. As she becomes jaded by the terrible living conditions in a city under siege, she also becomes accustomed to soldiers knocking at the door for food, medical treatment, or a place to sleep.
Uncle Henry, on the way to protect Jonesboro, stops to say goodbye and asks Scarlett to inform Melanie her...
(The entire section is 947 words.)
Chapters 23-25 Summary and Analysis
Scarlett sits, waiting for Rhett to come take them away from the hell Atlanta has become. She sees flames and thinks the Yankees have come and are burning the city. Prissy returns and tells her it is their own soldiers who are doing the burning and that she saw Rhett, who told her his horse and carriage were already commandeered, but he promises to get a horse. Scarlett tells Prissy to prepare Wade and the baby to leave. She has not been able to bring herself to go to Melanie since the birth of the baby. Rhett arrives and argues with her that she cannot go home as she wants to; the road to Tara is unsafe, but she becomes hysterical insisting she will and Rhett concedes. He bundles them all into the rickety...
(The entire section is 1002 words.)
Chapters 26-28 Summary and Analysis
Beau Wilkes: Ashley and Melanie’s only child
Two weeks have passed. Scarlett knows Gerald lives in his own world. She plans to walk to Jonesboro to locate food, but her foot is infected and the horse is dead. When she sees a Yankee approaching the house, she sneaks the pistol from the drawer, hides it in the folds of her skirt, and kills him with it. Melanie lies to the others and mops the blood while Scarlett drags the body out of the house and buries it. Melly suggests they go through his knapsack and pockets where they find money and jewelry. They keep his horse.
Sally Fontaine arrives at Tara to warn them Yankees are coming again. Scarlett hides the pigs...
(The entire section is 728 words.)
Chapters 29-30 Summary and Analysis
Will Benteen: Confederate soldier left at Tara to recover from pneumonia
General Johnston surrenders and the war ends. Pork spends five weeks on the road returning with clothes, seeds, and food. Scarlett is glad of the war’s end, thinking it will be the end of her fear. Suellen and Scarlett fight over the horse; Suellen wants to make use of him for social visits while Scarlett insists he is only for work. The argument ends when Scarlett slaps Suellen.
Scarlett continues as head of the house, buying seed, overseeing the planting, supervising the daily household tasks, and making sure there is food.
The Confederate soldiers begin to return home....
(The entire section is 634 words.)
Chapters 31-32 Summary and Analysis
Part IV of the novel begins as Scarlett writes to Pittypat, once again, to explain why Melanie, she, and now Ashley, cannot return to Atlanta. Will enters her office to talk about the taxes which are being raised by the new Reconstructionist government since someone, possibly Mr. Hilton, wants to buy Tara and thinks he can do so at a sheriff’s sale if the new, much higher taxes cannot be paid. Scarlett finds this incomprehensible, so Will explains that Scalawags and Carpetbaggers are really in charge now, along with the garrisoned soldiers and those running the Freedmen’s Bureau, who just happen to be their former overseer, Jonas Wilkerson, and his assistant, Mr. Hilton.
Scarlett looks for...
(The entire section is 833 words.)
Chapters 33-34 Summary and Analysis
The next day, Mammy and Scarlett arrive unannounced in a still-ruined Atlanta. They see rebuilding all around them but most of the shops bear names they do not know. Scarlett is disturbed by the number of Yankee soldiers. Belle Watling passes, obviously prosperous. The Meade and Whiting homes are gone. The Elsing’s is being repaired, as is the Bonnell’s, but Mammy and Scarlett do not see the families.
Scarlett presses Pittypat for information. She learns Pittypat’s farms, town property, and money are gone. Even the house she lives in really belongs to Melanie and Scarlett, and Uncle Henry is having trouble keeping the taxes paid on that. Scarlett knows he also saved one piece of downtown...
(The entire section is 705 words.)
Chapters 35-36 Summary and Analysis
A dejected Scarlett walks back to Pittypat’s house, encountering Frank Kennedy along the way. He gives her a ride in his buggy and she looks at him anew. He asks about Suellen and tells Scarlett he’s settled in Atlanta now and has a moneymaking store here. He also tells her of the sawmill he wants to buy. He’s saving his money to marry Suellen so Scarlett knows he won’t lend her any if she asks. She resolves to marry him herself for his money.
She fabricates a story about going to Yankee headquarters to see if she could sell the soldiers some fancy work for their wives. She plays on his sympathies, flirting with him and asking him what she should do to earn money. She lies to Frank, telling...
(The entire section is 1131 words.)
Chapters 37-38 Summary and Analysis
Tony Fontaine arrives in Atlanta on a dark and stormy night, requesting help. He has killed Jonas Wilkerson, Tara’s former overseer, and needs money and a horse to flee. Wilkerson filled freedmen’s heads with the right to accost white women. While drunk, one of them caused Tony’s sister-in-law, Sally, to scream in fright. Tony shot him and went after Wilkerson.
Ashley met Tony on the way to Jonesboro to kill Wilkerson and wanted to do it himself because of the way Wilkerson acted about Tara, but Tony insisted he must do it. Ashley held back the others while Tony told Wilkerson why he was killing him and knifed him to death. Now Tony must flee to Texas.
Frank hints that such people...
(The entire section is 1251 words.)
Chapters 39-42 Summary and Analysis
Archie: a murderer freed from prison for agreeing to fight in the Confederate Army
Scarlett returns to a devastated Jonesboro wearing Mrs. Meade’s ill-fitting black dress. Will is not there to meet her train, but Alex Fontaine goes to fetch him from the blacksmith shop. Thinking she already knows how Gerald died, Alex castigates Suellen to Scarlett before he goes. Will greets her warmly and asks for permission to marry Suellen, explaining Carreen will never recover from Brent’s death and is planning to enter a convent. He tells her he decided the only way to stay at Tara, with Gerald dead and both Carreen and Scarlett living elsewhere, is to marry Suellen for...
(The entire section is 1693 words.)
Chapters 43-45 Summary and Analysis
Rhett returns after an absence of several months. He chides Scarlett for leasing convicts and hiring Johnnie Gallegher to manage them and the mill. She asks why he goes to New Orleans so often. He responds that his legal ward, a schoolboy, is there and asks her to keep this information to herself. He also went to Charleston because his father died.
His father had disowned him as a youth, making it necessary for his mother to lie in order to see him in secret. Rhett’s mother and sister were destitute since the war because his father refused to accept Rhett’s “tainted” money. They lived on the charity of their friends and whatever small amounts his brother (who also refused Rhett’s money)...
(The entire section is 1444 words.)
Chapters 46-47 Summary and Analysis
When Captain Jaffery gets no answers, he arrests some men and orders Belle and her girls to appear for questioning in the morning. Meanwhile, Frank and Tommy Wellburn’s bodies are placed behind Belle’s place to make it look as if they killed each other in a drunken fight over one of Belle’s girls. The whole town resents having to rely on Belle and Rhett for their alibis. While the Yankees are amused by the alibis, they feel kindly toward Scarlett in her loss. Mrs. Meade thinks the alibi is Rhett’s enormous, but lifesaving, joke on the people that disdain him.
Belle calls at Melly’s house, but stays in the closed carriage to warn her the note of gratitude Melanie sent is unnecessary and...
(The entire section is 756 words.)
Chapters 48-50 Summary and Analysis
As we move into Part V of the book, Scarlett and Rhett are on their honeymoon in New Orleans. Scarlett thoroughly enjoys Rhett’s Carpetbagger, Scalawag, and speculator friends, preferring to ignore his past activities. He buys her stylish clothes and she buys gifts for the family. Rhett reminds her to get Mammy a present, but she refuses saying Mammy was hateful, so he buys Mammy one. What Scarlett enjoys the most in New Orleans is the food and liquor.
While discussing how he invests his money, Rhett tells her he is going to have a house built near Pittypat’s and they will stay in the bridal suite of the National Hotel until it is completed. She chooses a garish style even as he warns her not to...
(The entire section is 1172 words.)
Chapters 51-53 Summary and Analysis
Contemplating her slightly larger waistline, Scarlett decides not to have any more children. She goes to the mill where she and Ashley examine the books and is disappointed at how poorly he’s done in comparison to Johnnie Gallegher. Ashley explains he cannot be as harsh on the convicts as Johnnie is and blames Rhett for poisoning her when she tells Ashley he must be harsh. Her belief that Ashley loves her is intensified as he criticizes Rhett.
She tells Rhett she wants separate bedrooms to ensure no future pregnancies, but doesn’t tell him it’s also to be true to Ashley. Rhett tells Scarlett he could divorce her for this but won’t; he’s tired of her sexually. She cannot think how to tell...
(The entire section is 1277 words.)
Chapters 54-56 Summary and Analysis
Once safely home from Ashley’s party, Scarlett is an emotional wreck. After silently thinking in her room, she goes to get a drink when a very drunken Rhett asks her to join him in the dining room. She thinks it best not to let him see she fears him. He gives her a drink, telling her he knows all about her secret drinking, and forces her to sit down to discuss the evening with him.
He divulges that he knows Melly doesn’t believe Ashley and Scarlett are lovers; she’s too honorable “ . . . to conceive of dishonor in anyone she loves” and she loves both Ashley and Scarlett. He reveals he knows she has been lusting for Ashley since before they met, even as he was making love to her. She leaves...
(The entire section is 940 words.)
Chapters 57-59 Summary and Analysis
A month later, Rhett sends Scarlett home to Tara at her request. Wade and Ella go too, minded by Prissy. Melanie avoids Rhett, embarrassed by what he’s told her in his drunkenness the night Scarlett began to recover. He comes to see her, to find out what the problem is, and to ask a favor: he wants Melly to help him persuade Ashley to take the money from him to buy the other half of the mill he shares with Scarlett and purchase her other mill.
Rhett fears for Scarlett’s health when she returns home and works as hard as she had before her illness. Rhett feels the store will be strenuous enough work for her but knows she won’t sell the mills to anyone but Ashley. He wants Melly to deceive both...
(The entire section is 1041 words.)
Chapters 60-63 Summary and Analysis
Scarlett is fearful. She sees she can expect no solace from Rhett. While she wants to apologize for saying he murdered Bonnie, the longer she waits, the harder it is to do. He is becoming a silent, morose, untidy drunk who is rarely at home. Dr. Meade advises Scarlett to have another baby with Rhett so he will stop this drinking which will eventually kill him and which he does to forget the pain of his daughter’s death. Mammy goes back to Tara permanently, so the lonely Scarlett has only Melanie with whom to talk.
From the Old Guard, only Pittypat, Melanie, and Ashley call on Scarlett. She discounts the visits from her new friends saying they don’t know her. Scarlett finally understands why...
(The entire section is 1254 words.)
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