Since the hardback copy of Margaret Mitchell's marvelous novel contains 1032 pages, it is an insurmountable task to summarize each part of Gone With the Wind. An magnificently written novel, Gone With the Wind is a historical romance that chronicles the antebellum South of Scarlett O'Hara, who is the indulged daughter of a properous cotton plantation owner in Georgia. However, when the Civil War breaks out, Scarlett's world literally goes up in flames at the Battle of Atlanta.
Nevertheless, Scarlett is made of "sterner stuff" as Shakespeare wrote, than many of the other women. In fact, she is an antiheroine of this romance who vows to restore her former way of life after it is destroyed. During the war, she moves to Atlanta and marries an older man simply for his money. When he dies in the war, Scarlett scandalizes Atlanta society by not mouning him properly. Intrigued by Scarlett's unabashed behavior, Rhett Butler asks her to dance at a charity ball while she yet wears her widow's mourning clothes. Scarlett accepts. While Rhett is a bit of a rogue, he is the only one who understands Scarlett, and they are magnetized to each other.
Scarlett stays with Melanie Wilkes during her pregnancy mostly so that she can be close to Ashley Wilkes, Melanie's husband, whom Scarlett idealizes and imagines herself in love with him. But, in reality, it is only Tara that Scarlett loves. She moves back to Tara after the Union troops set fire to Atlanta, but nearly starves. Vowing to "never be hungry again," Scarlett returns to Atlanta and steals her sister's fiance from her because his fortune will pay the heavy taxes levied on Tara. Becoming a widow again after having two children, Scarlett then marries Rhett, but their marriage is troubled and destroyed by the death of their beautiful child. This devastating stage of their lives severs the marriage and Rhett leaves Scarlett pondering her plight. But, she vows not to think of it today. She will think of it tomorrow and she determines that she will return to Tara, her greatest love, and figure out what to do.
While this is only a cursory summary, enotes provides a more comprehensive summary. Please see the links below, but do not neglect your reading of this great narrative that records the magic of a romanticized way of life that departs with the ashes of General Sherman's March to the Sea that destroyed so much of the picturesque South. Mitchell's novel is a delight to read for teens and every age of adult because it is so well written that it evokes much pathos from its readers. Characters such as Mammy come alive and Scarlett O'Hara Rhett Butler seem to walk off the page.
For those who have not lived in the South (of the United States), Mitchell's Gone With the Wind's narrative presents a romanticized country and era that suffers tragedy; for who have lived in the South, it evokes the spirit of those who saw their world shattered by those who knew nothing of the relationship of people to their land.