What happens in Gone with the Wind?

In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O'Hara struggles to maintain her familial home of Tara, a plantation which has fallen into disrepair, after Atlanta was burned in the Civil War. Scarlett marries her first husband, who dies shortly afterward, leaving Scarlett with a baby. She remarries to stabilize her finances. Rhett Butler is her fourth husband, with whom she has one child, Bonnie. After Bonnie's death, Rhett loses interest in Scarlett. Too late, she realizes how much she loves Rhett, and she loses him.

  • Scarlett loves Ashley Wilkes and is crushed when he marries the sweet, gentle Melanie. Scarlett then marries Charles Hamilton, Melanie's brother, who dies in the Civil War.

  • Scarlett marries Frank Kennedy for financial stability. 
  • When Union soldiers burn down Atlanta, Scarlett returns to her familial home of Tara, where she struggles to support herself. She decides to marry to ensure that she'll never go hungry again.

  • Scarlett has a daughter with her fourth husband, Rhett Butler. After their daughter dies in a riding accident, Rhett falls out of love with Scarlett, who only then realizes how much she truly loves him.

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Summary

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...

(The entire section is 2,330 words.)