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 engagement. We learn that Gerald was at Twelve Oaks to buy Dilcey and Prissy so that they could live at Tara with Pork. Through their conversation we discover Scarlett does not share her father’s love of the land. As the chapter closes, Ellen is leaving, accompanied by Mammy, to attend to a poor white neighbor, Emmie Slattery, whose baby is dying.
Scarlett thinks she has loved Ashley since she first saw him and cannot understand why he does not declare his love, since it is obvious to her that he loves her, too. Gerald is concerned, not only because Scarlett will not accept that Ashley is marrying Melanie, but also because he feels Ashley is not a good match for Scarlett. According to Gerald, Ashley cannot make her happy due to his love for books, poetry and painting which she doesn’t share. In addition, he wants to see his daughter marry someone who will add more acreage to Tara and improve the plantation since he intends to bequeath it to her when he dies. Scarlett has no interest in this matter and is aghast at her father’s choices for her husband since each of these is not Ashley. Scarlett, in her immaturity, feels she can change Ashley and still wants only him.