The novel is depicted at the moments before, during, and after the war. Scarlett begins as not really caring about the war and failing to see how the war impacts her overall state of being. At the time, she covets Ashley Wilkes, and this is all she can see. In some respects, her myopia is compatible to the myopic vision of the South, which failed to see past their own loves of glory and militaristic pride to understand the horrific implications of war. As the war continues and its brutal nature revealed as the conflict becomes longer and more protracted, Scarlett has to become more practical and pragmatic about her world and her place within it. In much the same way, the South becomes more realistic about how it will fare in the war and what will happen to it in a post- war world.
I recall from the movie "Gone with The Wind" that all the southern belles and the beaus had gathered for a lovely party at Ashley Wilkes Plantation. The men were discussing war and looking forward to going to war so they could defeat the Yankees. It is the eve of the Civil War at Silver Oaks Plantation. As everyone is enjoying the party and ceremonies there is an announcement "War has been declared."
Rhett Butler is the only one who seems to realize that the North will most likely win. The southern men yell with excitement and joy. Miss Scarlet O'Hara is desperate because Ashley has become engaged to his cousin Melanie. Scarlet is deeply in love with Ashley.
The men all leave the next day. The women are left behind. As the conflict continues the lands are burned, food is taken by the Northerners, and Atlanta becomes the scene of hundreds of soldiers lay in the streets suffering in agony. Carpetbaggers come down to try and steal what little is left of the plantations and land.