Gone With the Wind Summary
In short, this book is long. It is filled with sweeping historical vistas and events, along with plot, plot, and more plot.
Speaking of the plot, in Gone With the Wind it is tied to the history of the Civil War. So you can think of the book as divided into four main, honking sections: Pre-War, Civil War, Reconstruction, and post-Reconstruction.
Before the Civil War, Scarlett O'Hara is a flighty, selfish, sixteen-year-old in Georgia who cares mostly about parties and flirting. She is, however, secretly in love with a neighbor, the intellectual Ashley Wilkes. She discovers he's going to marry his cousin, Melanie, and she's very upset about it. So she decides to get all dressed up and finally tell him she loves him and get him to elope with her, which seems kind of mean to Melanie, but that's the sort of person Scarlett is.
But her plans go awry; Ashley more or less says he loves her but that he's too big a doofus to marry her. (Okay, he doesn't actually use the word doofus but you catch our drift.)
Rhett Butler, a disreputable scoundrel and the novel's hero (more or less), is listening in the room unobserved while Scarlett makes her declaration of love to Ashley, and he teases her about it afterward, because that's the kind of appealing scoundrel he is. Scarlett is angry and upset after she's rejected, and goes off and gets engaged to Melanie's brother, the shy clueless Charles Hamilton. Then the war starts—tragic developments all round.
Second part: Civil War. Charles dies right away from disease in the army, but not before he gets Scarlett pregnant. She is depressed because she has to be in mourning for a husband she didn't even like, plus she's got a kid. She's so down that her parents decide to ship her off to Atlanta for a change of scene, which does in fact cheer her up; she likes the bustle. She stays with her Aunt Pittypat and with Melanie, her sister-in-law and Ashley's wife.
She also consorts and banters with Rhett, who is hanging around and being irritating and sometimes friendly, because he loves her though he won't admit it because he's kind of pitiful. He's also a blockade runner and speculator, and is making money in part because he's not fighting in the war, like all the other able-bodied men. He does eventually ask Scarlett to be his mistress, but she refuses and tells him he stinks.
Anyway, Ashley comes back on leave briefly; he and Scarlett share a significant moment where he sort of declares his love again and asks her to take care of Melanie. While he's not mooning after Scarlett, though, he manages to get Melanie pregnant. With perfect timing, Melly has her baby just as Union forces are invading Atlanta; in the chaos Scarlett has to deliver the baby herself. She gets Rhett to set them on the road to Tara, but he has an attack of something like conscience and leaves to join the army, so he can't take her all the way home.
For the record, Scarlett is not pleased, but manages to get them there herself because she is tough.
Back at Tara, Scarlett's mother, Ellen, has died of typhus, her two sisters are sick, and her father has gone quietly mad from grief. Also, the Yankees have taken just about everything, and most of the slaves have left. (The novel has more sympathy for the hardships of the white slave owners than for the suffering of the people enslaved because the novel is really racist. See "Why Should I Care?" for more on this.)
But Scarlett is tough as nails and twice as mean, and she manages to scrape together food for herself and her family and Melly, who is staying on. She also shoots a passing Yankee raider in the face and takes his money, which becomes the basis for her later fortune.
The war ends; Reconstruction begins. Ashley comes to Tara and ends up staying on, as does another ex-soldier named Will Benteen. However, thanks to the dastardly Reconstruction government and evil Yankee schemers, Scarlett is hit with massive taxes on Tara that she can't pay and that will force her to sell.
She decides to go to Atlanta to find Rhett, who is rich, and who she hopes will either marry her or pay her to be his mistress. But Rhett is in jail for killing a black man (which the novel presents as a virtuous act, because the novel is really racist) and can't get at his money. So Scarlett marries Frank Kennedy, who had been engaged to her sister Suellen. Suellen is understandably upset, but Scarlett uses Frank's money to save Tara, so all's well that ends well, unless you're Suellen.
Rhett gets out of prison and Scarlett borrows money from him to buy mills and set herself up in the lumber business. Frank is upset because he feels it's unseemly for a woman to work, but Scarlett doesn't much care what he thinks. Eventually she employs Ashley as a foreman in one of the mills, and he and Melanie move back to Atlanta.
Frank's especially worried about Scarlett going out alone because the Reconstruction government has encouraged black people to be violent and unruly (we've mentioned the book is really racist, right?). And sure enough Scarlett gets attacked. She escapes, but the Ku Klux Klan rides out to avenge her. It turns out that both Frank Kennedy and Ashley are members of the Klan (that's right, the KKK are supposed to be the good guys here). The Yankees have set a trap for them, though, and Ashley is injured and Frank killed; Rhett Butler saves everybody else through a cunning stratagem.
Everybody in Atlanta hates Scarlett for endangering the men-folk, except for Melanie, who stands by her and is very important in Atlanta society because everyone thinks she is awesome (though she strikes us more as a sanctimonious drip). People also hate Scarlett for doing business with the Yankees. She does business with them anyway, though, because nobody stops her hustle.
Scarlett agrees to marry wealthy Rhett when he proposes (she says she's fond of him, too, not just his money). Rhett still isn't admitting he loves her, but he's quite jealous of Ashley. It's not exactly wedded bliss, but they have a daughter, Bonnie, whom Rhett dotes on.
For Bonnie's sake, Rhett tries to moderate his conduct and get in good with Atlanta society. His efforts are somewhat hindered, however, when Scarlett is caught in an actually innocent friendly embrace with Ashley. Melanie refuses to believe anything was amiss (which it really wasn't) and the town is torn between pro-Scarlett and anti-Scarlett forces.
Jealous Rhett semi-maybe-sort-of-rapes Scarlett, who enjoys it, and it seems like there's a chance that they'll reconcile, but Rhett leaves with Bonnie for New Orleans in a jealous snit. Scarlett discovers she's pregnant; Rhett finally comes back and immediately taunts her and suggests she's be better off if she miscarried, she moves to slap him, misses, falls down the stairs, and has a miscarriage. Not long after, Bonnie gets a horse, falls off it, and then dies attempting a jump. Scarlett and Rhett are horribly grieved, and the death pushes them further apart.
Reconstruction has basically ended now; Southern Democrats are back in control of Atlanta and the South, and black people are being disenfranchised. But while this is supposed to be a good thing (because the book is really racist), all is not happiness and light.
On the contrary, Melly dies from a miscarriage, and Scarlett realizes that she doesn't hate her at all, but loves and relies on her. At the same time, she realizes that Ashley is a loser and she doesn't care about him. And then she realizes she really loves Rhett. Lots of realizations there all at once; have to jam them in since the novel's coming to an end.
Scarlett goes to tell Rhett that she loves him, but he says he used to love her but doesn't anymore, and is going off to travel. She is undeterred, though, and determines to go back to Tara for a break and then to try to figure out how to get Rhett back. Will she? Won't she? Shmoop doesn't know, because that, at long last, is the end. Phew.
Part 1 / Chapter 1
- Scarlett O'Hara enters with the first word. She's not super-pretty, but she has charmed a couple of boys named the Tarleton twins because she's that sort of girl.
- It's 1861 in Georgia, and Stuart and Brent, the Tarleton twins, have been expelled from school, because they are both that sort of boy. You're supposed to be charmed by the fact that they're kind of useless.
- The Tarleton boys want to talk about the fact that the Civil War is coming, but Scarlett doesn't because she's incredibly self-absorbed. It's not clear whether you're supposed to be charmed by that. The Tarleton boys are.
- The Tarletons' mom is mad at them, and they're hiding out, because she'll beat them if she's angry, which is humiliating since they're grown up.
- There is flirting. Flirt, flirt, flirt.
- In the course of flirting, the Tarletons tell Scarlett that Ashley Wilkes is getting married to his cousin.
- Scarlett is shocked and upset because she is in love with Ashley Wilkes, but she doesn't show it because she is tough.
- The Tarleton twins eventually wander off home because Scarlett doesn't ask them to stay for dinner.
- They remember the exact moment when Scarlett decided to charm their socks off, even though they didn't know that she had decided to charm their socks off. Now they are sockless, and charmed. Again, they appear to be as dumb as two twin doornails.
- Scarlett took Stuart away from India Wilkes, which will matter later, and Brent away from someone else, who won't.
- The Tarletons mention lots of folks in passing, so that you know right from the start that this is a big sweeping novel about communities, rather than just a little piddly novel about one or two people.
- Back to Scarlett being upset about Ashley marrying his cousin Melanie.
- She's certain Ashley really loves her, not that little simp Melanie.
- Mammy is introduced as being fierce and loyal. Scarlett dissembles so Mammy doesn't know she's upset.
- Scarlett goes off to meet her father, who is coming from the Wilkes plantation, in hopes he'll tell her Ashley Wilkes isn't actually getting married.
- She remembers falling in love with Ashley, and how they hung out together, but never really exactly courted.
- Ashley is supposed to be complex and Scarlett is simple. To be clear, by complex we means Ashley comes across as a vacillating dolt, and by simple we means Scarlett comes off like a selfish child.
- Enter Gerald O'Hara, a big, florid, friendly baby of a man. We think you're supposed to find him cute.
- Gerald likes jumping fences, though Ellen, his wife, worries he'll get hurt.
- Gerald tells Scarlett that Ashley is getting married; she's cranky about it, and he's upset that she's cranky.
- He says he's glad she's not marrying Ashley because he's weird and likes art and music and stuff that doesn't matter to real men doing manly things like jumping over fences.
- The two of them go back to the house promising not to tell Ellen that Scarlett is upset, because revealing your emotions is wrong and everyone should just bottle everything up and push it down so that it can spew out at odd moments causing misery and woe to all.
- Ellen's off to help the poor white good-for-nothing Emmie Slattery care for her out-of-wedlock baby. The book hates poor white people almost as much as it hates black people.
- A bunch about how awesome Ellen is because she is so kind and self-abnegating and perfect.
- Then we learn that Ellen wasn't always perfect, but had a great love with her cousin Philippe when she was fifteen.
- Then it's on to the story of Gerald, who had to run out of Ireland after he killed a man; then he came to America to hang out with his brothers.
- He made his fortune by being able to hold his liquor and beating people in gambling.
- He won Pork, his slave, at cards, and also his plantation, Tara. Are we supposed to admire him for being a drunk, a gambler, and a slaveholder? Alas, we think we are (though for the record, we do not).
- Gerald makes good, building his plantation with slave labor and calling himself a self-made man. You see the contradiction there? Margaret Mitchell doesn't.
- More about how awesome and blustery and lovable Gerald is. He treats his slaves well! He only beat one for failing to tend to his horse correctly, and you can't blame him for that, right?
- Gerald goes off to his brothers' in town to see if he can find a wife.
- He manages to marry Ellen Robillard, because her first love died and her family was afraid she'd go into a convent.
- Scarlett is born, and learns to be feminine in appearance, if not true gentleness—she's selfish and headstrong and wants to get her own way.
- It's never clear whether Mitchell admires Scarlett for not being graceful like Ellen, or whether she sees it as a flaw. Scarlett seems conflicted about this herself.
- Scarlett is sad and cranky because Ashley is getting married.
- Scarlett and Gerald are having dinner.
- There's some nauseating stuff where Pork and Dilcey bow and scrape because Gerald has deigned to let them live together as man and wife.
- Scarlett meets Prissy, who is to be her servant.
- Ellen returns; the Slattery's baby died.
- There's some talk about the war, and Scarlett and her sisters whine about their dresses for the party the next day. Then they all go off to chapel and pray.
- While praying, Scarlett realizes Ashley doesn't know she loves him.
- So she figures she'll tell him and he'll elope with her and that'll be all.
- The prayers end and Ellen tells Gerald he has to get rid of Jonas Wilkerson, the Yankee overseer, whom they think is the father of Emmy Slattery's dead baby.
- The chapter ends with Scarlett daydreaming again.
- Scarlett tries to figure out which dress to wear to the party to bewitch Ashley.
- Mammy comes in and tries to convince her to eat so that she'll be stuffed at the party and won't eat there because real women don't eat in public, apparently. Not even quiche.
- Scarlett is stuffed and tied tight into her corset, and then it's off to the barbecue with Gerald.
- They run into the Tarletons and talk about horses, because that's what Mrs. Tarleton talks about when she talks about anything.
- They all burble cheerfully about Ashley getting married, which disturbs Scarlett.
- She holds onto her conviction that she can get him to marry her, though.
- Remember: Scarlett's only sixteen, so though she behaves like a spoiled child, she also is a child. And as for the spoiled part, well, we're inclined to blame her parents.
- They get to the barbecue.
- Rhett Butler shows up. He checks Scarlett out. He is dangerous and manly. Also "swarthy," which means dark. Having a dark skin tone is a big deal in a novel as racist as this one.
- Scarlett flirts with everyone, including a shy boy named Charles Hamilton; he's supposed to be semi-engaged to Honey Wilkes, but Scarlett completely turns his head.
- Scarlett learns that Rhett refused to marry a girl he had gone out late with, causing a scandal. He is dangerous and bad… but oh so exciting.
- Ashley is there with his cousin and fiancée Melanie, who is timid; Scarlett is jealous and hates her.
- There's arguing about the war, which bores Scarlett. Charles proposes to her, which bores Scarlett—all she cares about is Ashley.
- Rhett tells everyone that the North will beat the South, irritating everyone.
- The women go upstairs to nap.
- Scarlett sneaks away to find Ashley.
- She finds Ashley and there's a big scene where she says she loves him and he says he cares for her but he's going to marry Melanie because he and Scarlett aren't enough alike, oh woe.
- She slaps Ashley, he retreats.
- Surprise: Rhett Butler was in the room the whole time. Scarlett is legit mortified and goes upstairs.
- She hears Honey Wilkes and others gossiping about her; Honey seems to have figured out that Scarlett is sweet on Ashley.
- Melanie intervenes and tells everyone to stop being mean, which makes Scarlett even angrier, since she's jealous of Melanie.
- She runs into Charles, who tells her the war has started.
- Charles proposes and she accepts out of spite and jealousy and bitterness, which isn't probably the best way to start a marriage.
- But things work out remarkably well because Charles goes off to war and dies of disease straight off, and so Scarlett is free of him.
- The only downside is that she got pregnant and is going to have a kid she doesn't want.
- Ashley got married too; Scarlett is miserable and depressed. War preparations are going on.
- She gives birth to her baby, Wade Hamilton, and then she's really bored and depressed.
- Like, really. Ellen is worried Scarlett will waste away, so she sends her daughter traveling to Savannah to see relatives Scarlett hates.
- Scarlett's still bored.
- So they send her to Atlanta where Melanie lives with Aunt Pittypat, in the hopes of cheering her up.
Part 2 / Chapter 8
- Scarlett arrives in Atlanta with her servant, Prissy, and her baby, Wade.
- Uncle Peter, Aunt Pittypat's slave, picks them up.
- Atlanta is bustling and so Scarlett is kind of excited and less bored.
- She runs into various other characters to give you the sense that the town is alive and there are people in it.
- Scarlett settles in for a long stay with Aunt Pittypat and Melanie.
- Aunt Pittypat is a foolish gossip; Melanie is beloved by all, except Scarlett who is jealous of her and finds her insipid.
- Scarlett doesn't like hospital work either, in part because she's not allowed to flirt with the injured men.
- Scarlett is not a very nice person, overall. In case you missed that.
- Scarlett is upset that she's missing a party, and starts crying about it.
- Pittypat and Melly think she's crying for Charlie, though of course she doesn't care about Charlie at all.
- Basically Scarlett's whole life and everything she says and does is a lie. That doesn't seem like it can turn out well.
- Mrs. Merriwether and Mrs. Elsing come and say that Scarlett and Melanie are needed to help at the party for the soldiers even though they're in mourning.
- Scarlett pretends it's a sacrifice to go out, and Melanie agrees to come along.
- They go to the party and Scarlett is happy, though she still wishes she could dance.
- She suddenly realizes she doesn't actually care about the Southern Cause at all; instead she's jealous that she's a widow and isn't allowed to go out and dance and flirt.
- She's still only seventeen, remember.
- Eventually Rhett comes in and sees her and realizes she wants to dance. He looks at her boldly, because he's that kind of romantic hero.
- Rhett seems to admire Melanie's courage in suffering while her husband is away; he knows Scarlett didn't love her husband, and teases her about it obliquely.
- Dr. Meade gets up and asks the women of the Confederacy to give away their jewelry to sell to raise money for the troops.
- Scarlett gives away her wedding ring because she doesn't care about Charles anyway, and Melanie gives away hers because she is so brave.
- More bantering from Rhett to show how truthful and unconventional and attractively unprincipled he is.
- He is a blockade runner, which means people think he's bravely dodging Yankees, but mostly he just bribes folks.
- Dr. Meade scandalously arranges an auction for dancers so that the men will bid and give money to the Confederacy.
- Rhett bargains for Scarlett, so she gets to dance; everyone thinks she's brave and doing it to get money for the Confederacy, but she just wants to dance.
- People are still scandalized.
- Next day, Pittypat is upset that Scarlett's reputation is gone, but Scarlett figures, well, I'll just go out anyway now and have fun, darn it.
- Rhett sends Melanie's ring back to her. Scarlett figures he did it so Pittypat will invite him into her house even though he's supposed to be scandalous.
- Ellen sends Gerald to straighten Scarlett out for dancing inappropriately.
- Gerald shows up and brings news; Brent Tarleton is sweet on Scarlett's sister Suellen.
- He tells Scarlett she has to go back to Tara.
- But Rhett gets Gerald drunk that evening and Scarlett tells him she'll tell Ellen on him for being drunk and rowdy if he forces her to go back to Tara. So he says she can stay where she is.
- Scarlett secretly reads Ashley's letters, which she's been doing for a while because she is completely untrustworthy.
- Ashley writes about how the war is pointless and he misses the past; he also thinks Rhett was right and the South is going to lose.
- Scarlett is bored by the letter.
- She doesn't understand Ashley, but she still loves him.
- Then she looks in the mirror and is cheered by the fact that she is still pretty.
- The blockade is tightening and Atlanta is having trouble getting supplies, but Scarlett has boyfriends flocking around her, so she's happy.
- At Tara, Ellen and Gerald are working hard, and Scarlett is bored when she visits.
- She's going around with Rhett, who is still scandalous, but has been accepted more or less in Atlanta because of his exploits as a blockade runner.
- Everyone is impressed with Rhett for a little, but then he sets about making them all hate him by telling them the war isn't sacred and pointing out that the folks in the militia are avoiding the battle at the front.
- Melanie says she won't refuse Rhett because Ashley says much the same thing in his letters and so it would be dishonest.
- Rhett is openly accused of speculating and making a profit off of the war scarcity; Melanie still insists on receiving him, though.
- Banter ensues between Scarlett and Rhett; he is so clear-sighted and brave.
- He brings her presents and wants her to dress in colors rather than in dull mourning.
- Does he really like her? What do you think, dear reader?
- Belle Watling, the town prostitute and bad woman, approaches Melanie with money for the soldiers.
- Melanie is mortified since good women aren't supposed to speak to bad women, but she takes the money because she is brave and thinks it's the right thing to do.
- Scarlett is excited at the scandal of it all, but then she realizes Belle tied up the money in a handkerchief from Rhett Butler.
- Now Scarlett is jealous and angry.
- Update on the progress of the war: It's not going well for the Confederates.
- Folks in Atlanta are waiting for news from Lee at Gettysburg.
- The casualty lists are posted, but Ashley isn't on it. Much rejoicing.
- But then Scarlett realizes other folks she knows have been killed, like Raif Calvert and LaFayette Munroe, who had been engaged to Cathleen Calvert. And the three remaining Tarleton boys.
- Scarlett asks Rhett why there should be a war over slavery, and he tells her the war doesn't have anything to do with slavery. (An aside: Latter-day Confederate sympathizers like Margaret Mitchell like to argue that the war was about things like state's rights instead of slavery, because if it was about slavery, well, then the Confederates were fighting on the wrong side.)
- Melanie says she wants a baby, and thinks she could bear Ashley dying if she just had a child.
- She says she's been jealous of Scarlett; Scarlett says "Fiddle-dee-dee," which is one of her pet phrases when she's cranky at somebody.
- Ashley comes back. And guess what? Scarlett's still in love with him.
- She determines she'll get him alone and get him to make love to her somehow.
- It's not so easy to get alone with him, though.
- And when she finally does, all he wants to do is ask her to look after Melanie. Ugh—it's like Melanie's his wife or something.
- Ashley tells her the Yankees will win, and it will be the end of the world; he's a bit dramatic.
- But she hugs him goodbye and says she loves him, and when he looks back, she sees that he loves her.
- Which would all be okay, maybe, if he hadn't married somebody else.
- The South is still fighting on, though the Yankees are pressing hard.
- Speaking of fighting on, Scarlett's still thinking about Ashley; she figures she'll have him after the war somehow, though since divorce is out of the question it's not clear how that's going to work.
- Melanie's pregnant. Scarlett can't stand to be around her.
- But then news comes that Ashley is missing.
- They think he's dead, but then it turns out he isn't—instead he's in prison in Andersonville, Georgia.
Part 3 / Chapter 17
- There's some foreshadowing of the fact that Atlanta is going to come under siege.
- Aunt Pittypat has a little party to entertain people and distract them from the war, and Rhett shows up, bringing his scandalous realism about the war with him.
- More about the war: Confederates are holding, but it's only a matter of time.
- Scarlett is doing a lot of nursing, which is really unpleasant.
- She escapes from the hospital, finds Rhett, and he takes her riding in his carriage.
- They run into Big Sam, who'd been a foreman on Scarlett's plantation.
- He's singing "Go Down, Moses" as they head out to work on the fortifications around town.
- This is especially ironic since "Go Down, Moses" is a song about freeing the Jews from enslavement in Egypt, but Mitchell has her slaves just cheerful and happy to be enslaved.
- Scarlett realizes there's going to be a siege of Atlanta, and is justly freaked out.
- Rhett says he's going to stay to see how things go, but he's probably lying—he's totally staying because he's sweet on Scarlett.
- He teases her about Ashley Wilkes and figures out he kissed her and she is waiting for him helplessly.
- But is he teasing her, or is his heart breaking?
- And if it's the latter, why doesn't he tell her?
- Atlanta is in desperate straits, so the homeguard is called out, including the young and the old.
- John Wilkes, Ashley's father, is going off to war, much to Scarlett's distress.
- But soon she's back to feeling cranky because there's too much competition from younger girls for the soldiers' attention.
- Selfishness is always a good distraction for Scarlett.
- But the war is going badly, more wounded come through, and the women are worried that Atlanta will fall to the Yankees.
- Scarlett's also worried that the Yankees will attack her family since Tara is near the Yankee troops.
- They make plans to leave; Scarlett is thinking about going to Tara and sending Melly to Macon, but Melly begs her to stay with her.
- Besides, Dr. Meade says Melly can't move while pregnant or she'll risk her health.
- So Aunt Pitty goes off to Macon and Scarlett stays with Melly.
- The siege is underway, and Scarlett is worried she won't be able to get a doctor when the time comes for Melanie's baby.
- But Prissy, Scarlett's slave, says she knows how to handle births.
- Scarlett wanted to send Prissy to Tara with Wade, but the Yankee army's movements make that impossible.
- Uncle Henry visits them on furlough from the fighting.
- He tells Scarlett John Wilkes is dead, and asks her to tell Melanie since he can't bring himself to do so.
- Scarlett is very brave, in this and in other things, so she's on it.
- Gerald writes and tells Scarlett that Tara has not been overrun by Yankees, but that Carreen is ill with typhoid.
- Rhett shows up and flirts with her. He tells her he knows she hates Melanie.
- Then he asks her to be his mistress.
- Scarlett is shocked, and tells him she doesn't want a bunch of kids for nothing, which isn't the sort of thing a lady would say.
- She kicks him out, but he's just amused.
- The siege goes on endlessly.
- Scarlett gets news that her two sisters are ill and that her mother has typhoid as well.
- Melanie begs her to take her baby if Ashley is dead, and Scarlett promises, hating Melanie all the while. What a happy family.
- The battle is getting closer; Melanie is finally ready to have the baby.
- Scarlett sends Prissy out to get a doctor, but no doctor is to be found; everybody is tending to the wounded, or generally scattered about.
- The Yankees are invading the city; slaves are running about panicking. (Quick history break: Enslaved people responded in all sorts of ways to the arrival of Union troops.)
- Scarlett goes to find Dr. Meade herself, but he's caring for all the wounded, so she figures she'll have to rely on Prissy.
- But then it turns out that Prissy doesn't know anything about childbirth either—she was just making up stories.
- Scarlett is understandably upset.
- It takes Melanie a long time to have the baby. Scarlett doesn't really know what she's doing, but finally the baby is out. And now the Yankee's are coming.
- Scarlett sends Prissy to get Rhett in hopes that he can escort them out of town ahead of the Yankees.
- Prissy comes back and says she's found Rhett.
- He shows up, but tells her there's nowhere in particular to go; the Yankees have the city surrounded.
- She says she wants to go home, and he tells her it won't work.
- But she insists and he goes along with it, though we're not sure why.
- Anyway, he finds a broken-down horse and they get Melanie in the wagon and off they go toward Tara.
- Rhett gets them on the road, hurrying past soldiers and fire, but then he tells Scarlett he is leaving her so he can join the army. He has acquired patriotism at the last moment.
- He tells her he loves her, too, but since this is the last moment, she can't do anything about it.
- Anyway, he kisses her and she kisses him back, then remembers he's abandoning her and tells him he stinks and she hopes he dies.
- He is amused. And she's got to deal with getting to Tara.
- After night passes, they wake up and go on with the journey.
- They get to a neighbor's plantation, but it's deserted.
- Prissy is largely useless, worrying about ghosts and generally whining, so Scarlett curses at her and even beats her. It seems like we're supposed to think this is justified.
- Melanie is very sick and can barely move, and she doesn't have milk, so her baby can't eat.
- But finally they get to Tara. The family is there, but Ellen has died of typhoid.
- Pork, Gerald's servant, tells her that some of the slaves have run away; Pork calls them "trashy." The Yankees have taken most of the food, but Scarlett gets Pork to dig up yams and she remembers where some whisky is hidden as well.
- Gerald explains that the house was left standing because the Yankees used it as a headquarters.
- There was a Yankee captain who agreed not to burn the house since there were sick women inside; he helped care for Scarlett's sisters as well.
- Scarlett gets her father drunk so he'll go to sleep, and drinks a good bit herself.
- Dilcey is still there, and feeds Melanie's baby.
- Mammy comes, and Scarlett is relieved to see her and at the same time compares her to a monkey, because even in the most extreme of trials, she can't put down her racism for even a moment.
- Mammy tells Scarlett about Ellen, who apparently caught typhoid fever while caring for the Slatterys.
- Mammy says that Ellen died calling Philippe's name.
- Scarlett decides she will persevere and keep Tara and protect everyone—she's all grown up now, after her trial.
- Scarlett wakes up sore from the ride and suffering a hangover.
- Then her dad shows up babbling vaguely about how he's waiting for Ellen; he appears to have lost his mind.
- Needless to say, this is a bad start to the morning.
- Scarlett starts giving orders about catching pigs and getting the plantation together, and she threatens Pork that she'll send him away, which terrifies him.
- Scarlett goes to see the Wilkes house, which is burned to the ground. She is heartbroken, but she shakes it off, because she's tough like that.
- And she promises that she will never be hungry again. And something of tenderness goes out of her.
- This is the big moment where she stops being a spoiled girl and becomes a determined woman who can win against all odds, spewing gumption at every step.
- So she sets about the difficult work of finding food to feed everybody on Tara.
- Wade is scared and miserable, but Scarlett just bullies him. She bullies everyone.
- Scarlett's sisters recover slowly, and Scarlett realizes her mother's code of femininity and kindness isn't any good.
- She still loves Tara, though, even if she's cranky with everyone who isn't her piece of dirt.
- Gerald seems to have permanently lost his reason.
- Scarlett is worried about what will happen.
- Suddenly a Yankee cavalryman comes up and into Tara.
- Scarlett is incensed to think he may take their hard-won food, so she sneaks around and gets Charles's pistol, which he never fired.
- The Yankee sees her and thinks she's all alone and harmless, so he shelves his pistol and Scarlett shoots him in the face.
- That's it for him.
- She's somewhat upset, but then she's joyful that she's revenged herself on the Yankees for Ellen (which doesn't make much sense, since the Yankees were kind to Ellen… but whatever).
- Scarlett sees Melanie has come out carrying Charles's saber, and realizes Melanie is joyful about killing the Yankee, too.
- Melanie convinces Scarlett they have to hide the body immediately.
- They ransack the body and find money, which means they'll be able to get food.
- Scarlett buries him in a shallow grave.
- Hard core.
- She rides over to the Fontaine's house, where Grandma Fontaine tells Scarlett she's going to have to pick cotton her own self. Scarlett is shocked, but she adapts, as is her wont.
- Grandma Fontaine shares food with them, and convinces Scarlett in private to tell her that Ellen is dead and Gerald is crazy and Melanie is staying with them.
- Grandma tells Scarlett, one survivor to another, that life is tough. Thanks, Grandma.
- Scarlett goes back and sets everyone to picking cotton. Suellen is not pleased, and in the end, only Dilcey is really reliable at picking the cotton.
- They get some cotton picked and Scarlett thinks the worst is over.
- Not so fast, though. As they're all contemplating how they're going to be able to slaughter the pigs and eat well, more Yankees show up.
- They scramble to hide as much as they can—cows, cattle, and pigs—and the Yankees wander around taking everything they can. Because in this book, they're the bad guys.
- Scarlett convinces the commander not to take Charles's sword since it was used in the Mexican War.
- The Yankees go, but a soldier who wanted to take the sword sets a fire in the back out of spite.
- Melanie helps put it out.
- Scarlett managed to hide a wallet with money in Melanie's baby's diaper, which is resourceful, if also a little icky.
- Scarlett is forced to admit to herself that Melanie is trustworthy in a pinch.
- Tara has even less food now that the Yankees came through a second time, so they scrabble and scramble, and Pork manages to steal some food on occasion.
- Scarlett has a nightmare in which she runs through fog and is pulled under by quicksand (this dream will haunt her for years); she sleeps poorly and becomes thin.
- Frank Kennedy and some Confederate troops come through, making Suellen and Carreen somewhat happy.
- Scarlett is contemptuous of Frank because he's old.
- Frank gives them news: Atlanta isn't entirely destroyed, but it's a mess.
- Melly thinks about going back to Atlanta, but Scarlett doesn't want to, so they don't.
- Frank tells Scarlett he wants to marry Suellen. He figures he should tell Scarlett since she's the head of the family.
- The war ends. Everyone's trying to get food and get back to normal.
- They go out to meet and check on their neighbors, who are all in various states of unhappiness, mourning, and disarray.
- Returning soldiers come through Tara, but there's no news of Ashley or Frank Kennedy.
- Uncle Peter shows up and demands they come back to Atlanta to take care of Aunt Pittypat.
- They laugh at him, though, because black people are comical, get it?
- Peter brings news that Ashley is coming home.
- Scarlett is happy at first and then she's back to being jealous because such is her way.
- One sick soldier who comes through is Will Benteen,
- Carreen nurses him and talks to him, and when he's better, he tells Scarlett that Brent Tarleton had been engaged to Carreen, and that she mourns for him.
- Scarlett is actually a little jealous, because, again, such is her way.
- Will decides to stay and help with the farm, which is a big relief to Scarlett.
- She hopes Will will marry Carreen, but Carreen is permanently heartbroken about Brent.
- Finally Ashley shows up: Melanie runs to him, but Will stops Scarlett from doing the same since he's figured out she's in love with Ashley, too.
Part 4 / Chapter 31
- Scarlett is working and Will comes and tells her that she's not going to be able to pay her taxes.
- The evil Yankees who are in control now in Georgia are going to raise taxes on her so that they can buy Tara cheap at a sheriff's sale.
- The novel is getting into gear on its racism, talking about how free black people are insolent and bemoaning the way that freedom has made black people worse off. More to come in that vein.
- Lots of evil nonsense about how terrible the Freedmen's Bureau is, with not a mention of its role in, say, reuniting black families separated by sale.
- The evil of stirring up black people is attributed to Yankees like John Wilkerson and Mr. Hinton, the assumption being that black people can't do anything for themselves, not even be resentful at having been slaves.
- Scarlett has to pay three hundred dollars in taxes, but she doesn't have anywhere near that amount.
- Will explains that most Southerners are barred from voting, and that the Northern government is oppressive.
- Scarlett doesn't know what to do, so she goes to talk to Ashley, more because she wants to get him alone than because he'll really be helpful.
- Ashley tells her that Rhett Butler has money—which is somewhat useful information, after all—and then he burbles on in a wave of self-pity and balderdash.
- Ashley drones on about how he's a coward for not facing reality and being a dreamer and such, but Scarlett doesn't really understand, and she tells him she wants to run away with him and she loves him.
- He says mentions the kid and wife he already has, but also sort of suggests that he loves her.
- He also kisses her, and then is all guilty and tells her it won't happen again.
- It's all very romantic and/or pitiful and ridiculous, depending on your viewpoint.
- He says he has to leave, and Scarlett grabs a lump of dirt and realizes she still has Tara.
- Then she tells him he and Melanie can stay and they'll never kiss again—she doesn't want him to starve just because her hormones got out of control (that's not quite how she puts it, but that's generally the idea).
- Emmie Slattery and Jonas Wilkerson drive up, and Scarlett insults Emmie right off.
- Wilkerson says he was going to make her an offer for Tara, but now since she's so mean he'll just buy it when it's sold off for taxes.
- Scarlett is filled with terror; she worries that Tara will be sold and that—gasp—black people will be allowed to live and sleep there.
- Psst… Scarlett… black people already live and sleep in Tara. They're not treated as equals, though, which we suppose is what Scarlett and her racism are getting at here.
- Anyway, after her racist panic, Scarlett remembers that Rhett has money, so she decides to go to Atlanta to see if she can get him to marry her.
- She's worried that she's thin and not very pretty, though, plus she has no pretty dresses. So she decides to make one out of the velvet curtains.
- Mammy is suspicious, and thinks Scarlett is going to try to do something unladylike to get the money in Atlanta. Mammy is right.
- Mammy decides to go with Scarlett to Atlanta. Because a newly freed slave has nothing better to do with her time than run around trying to make sure an adult white woman doesn't do anything untoward.
- Ashley, meanwhile, is ineffectually guilty. That's his thing.
- Scarlett and Mammy are in Atlanta.
- There's no one to meet them, and Mammy won't let them hire a carriage because that would be low class.
- They run into Belle Watling, but Scarlett doesn't speak to her; she realizes she and Belle are the same, both trying to get money from Rhett.
- And they get to Aunt Pitty's.
- They gossip; everyone in Atlanta among the formerly well-to-do is being forced to do some unfitting work, which basically means they've all dropped in social class. The horror.
- Pitty happens to tell her that Rhett is in jail for having killed a black man who insulted a white woman. To be clear: The suggestion is that imprisoning a white man for killing a black man is horribly unjust. What's unjust is this suggestion, though.
- Rhett's supposed to be very rich from having speculated, and Scarlett hopes she can marry him before he's hanged so she'll get his money and all her troubles will be over. True love.
- The next day Scarlett visits Rhett in prison.
- The Yankees let her in, and Scarlett and Rhett banter; as they do, Scarlett tries to convince him she's prosperous and has forgiven him for deserting her and is worried about him.
- Rhett is almost convinced, but then he notices that her hands are raw and worn, which means she's poor, which means she's lying to him. Oops.
- He gets her whole story out of her, all while being fairly nasty.
- Thing is, though, that he's lying to her, too, by pretending he doesn't care about her.
- Scarlett offers to be his mistress if he'll pay the taxes. He is amused, and also really mean about it.
- She asks him if he'll give her the money now that she's told the truth and he says he can't.
- All his money is in distant banks, and he can't draw it out without the Yankees getting it.
- Scarlett is so angry she faints; there is a bustle. Rhett tells the guards when they come in that Scarlett was overcome by hearing he was going to be executed, which is pretty funny.
- Rhett tells her she looked too hard and brutal when she offered to be his mistress, that she needs to be feminine to attract a man.
- He's given her this advice before. So have others. Gone With the Wind: Keeping things racist and sexist since 1936.
- Scarlett walks back filled with rage, and has fantasies of whipping black people who look at her. Nice.
- Her dress gets wet and ruined.
- Frank Kennedy comes by in a carriage and picks her up.
- He tells her he has a store and is doing well; he plans to buy a mill and thinks he can make a lot of money.
- When she hears money, Scarlett perks up. She hopes he'll lend her the taxes, but figures he won't, because he's saved the money to marry Suellen.
- She figures Sue doesn't deserve Frank and the store and the mill, so she determines to get him and them for herself. Reminder: Sue is her sister.
- Scarlett flirts with Frank shamelessly and he is like putty in her paws.
- Also, she lies to him flat-out and tells him Suellen doesn't want to marry him any more.
- Scarlett goes to the wedding of Fanny Elsing.
- She realizes for the n-teenth time that she's not like other Southerners because she moves on and they're stuck in the past.
- And guess what? Scarlett thinks that she's going to get money.
- Scarlett marries Frank two weeks later.
- She gets the money from him directly and all is well, except that Suellen is very angry, which one might expect. She sends Scarlett a nasty letter, which is too true for Scarlett to ever forgive.
- Scarlett realizes after the marriage that she'll have to stay in Atlanta and won't live in Tara anymore.
- She's grateful to Frank, though, and determines to make him happy.
- Frank's already upset as he dimly realizes that Scarlett, who once seemed so helpless, understands his business better than he does.
- And he also eventually figures out that she lied to him about Suellen wanting out of the marriage.
- He's happy enough, though… as long as he lets Scarlett do what she wants.
- After Frank gets a minor illness, Scarlett goes and checks on the store, which she finds is in disarray.
- The accounts are especially bad; he lets people buy on credit, even though he knows they'll never pay.
- Rhett comes and visits her. Guess what they do? Duh—they banter. It's their thing.
- Rhett explains he got out of jail using blackmail and connections, though he was in fact guilty of murdering a black man.
- He also says he really is rich and has tons of money; Scarlett is pained because she could have married him and gotten lots of money rather than marrying Frank and getting less.
- She asks him for money in order to buy the mill and he says he'll give it to her, unless the money is to support Ashley Wilkes.
- He says Ashley is useless at farming and at everything else, and he's right. Which makes Rhett's jealousy of him all the more pitiful.
- He sneers at the purity of Ashley's love, and points out to Scarlett that Ashley desires her body.
- He also sneers at Ashley for letting Scarlett come to Atlanta to sell herself when he should have known that's what she was going to do. Because, you know, Scarlett can't possibly make her own decisions.
- Anyway, Rhett agrees to give her the money, and she buys the mill, much to Frank's chagrin.
- He feels she's behaving in an unwomanly manner. Aw, poor guy.
- It's nighttime at Frank and Scarlett's home when Tony Fontaine appears at the door.
- He killed Jonas Wilkerson, but Ashley got him away and sent him on to Frank's house.
- Frank is pleased to hear about the murder.
- Tom tells them that Jonas stirred up black people, and says that the Yankees are going to have black people vote. This—along with the idea that black people should be allowed to love white people—is presented as the epitome of evil. In this book, the only white people black people are supposed to love are the white people who own/used to own them.
- The Fontaine's former slave Eustis said something to Sally; Sally screamed, and Tony shot Eustis.
- Then he went to kill Wilkerson.
- Tony flees to Texas.
- Despite the fact that he's killed two men on the basis of racist hatred, the book elicits sympathy from readers for him. No dice on our end.
- Frank is all dewy-eyed with patriotism at the thought of vicious racist terror and scaring black people; he says all will be well when former Confederates have the vote again.
- Scarlett doesn't really understand, but tells Frank she's going to have a baby.
- Their house is searched over and over by Yankees who think they may be hiding Tony.
- Scarlett realizes the Yankees control everything and that she's insecure as long as they can take everything from her.
- There's some praise of the KKK defending the rights of the maligned whites by going out and killing black people.
- As far as racism goes, this chapter just might be the absolute lowest point in the book. It's pretty awful.
- Scarlett works at getting her mills to pay, and determines to have nothing to do with fighting the Yankees or annoying the Yankees.
- She is happy Frank is not in the KKK.
- She's good at lying to her customers and cheating them out of as much money as possible, though she has trouble getting good men to run her mills. She's desperately trying to get everything in order before she has her baby and has to give up direct supervision for a while.
- Atlanta is horrified that Scarlett is such a sharp trader, and that she's willing to deal with the Yankees.
- Thing is, though, being friendly with the Yankees makes her a lot of money.
- There's a scene to show how awful the Yankees are; a couple Yankee women talk about how they don't want black people as servants because they're not trustworthy, and one of them also calls Uncle Peter a toad.
- Scarlett gets really mad and tells them that Peter is one of their family.
- The moral of this story is that Northerners are racist, but murdering black men in cold blood is just what has to be done to save the South.
- Peter tells Scarlett she shouldn't do business with Yankees.
- Scarlett imagines how she'll eventually be a great lady with as much money as she needs and everyone will love her for being unselfish and wonderful.
- Rhett is hanging around and often chats with Scarlett about the mill and its doings, which she enjoys.
- At one point he reveals he's been staying with her to protect her because he knows she's having a baby. Southern women are supposed to stay indoors out of public sight if they are showing at all, apparently.
- Scarlett's starting to drink; it helps with her stress.
- And finally Will writes to tell her Gerald is dead.
- Scarlett goes back to Tara to deal with Gerald's death.
- Will meets her and asks if he can marry Suellen, which surprises Scarlett since she thought he loved Carreen.
- He does, but Carreen will never love again after Brent, and Will tells Scarlett to let her go to a convent when she asks.
- Also, Ashley and Melly are going to leave soon, because Ashley feels like he's living on charity; they're planning on heading north.
- Scarlett doesn't want Ashley to get away, and decides to offer him an interest in her mill and tell him she needs him, though she doesn't really.
- Will explains how Gerald died.
- Suellen decided they could get repayment for the damage the Yankees did to Tara if Gerald swore an oath of loyalty to the union, something she figured she could get him to do because he wouldn't know what he was doing.
- She'd arranged it with Hinton so they'd let him pass with the oath.
- But Gerald comes to himself just enough to refuse to sign and runs out and takes his horse and tries to jump a fence and misses it and dies.
- There're worries that somebody is going to say something nasty to Suellen for trying to get Gerald to betray the Cause at the funeral.
- And if someone says something, Will and Ashley will have to feud.
- Will promises to handle it, which is usually how it goes anyway—Ashley doesn't really handle anything.
- Except for helping Tony murder people, that is—Ashley was good for that.
- Anyway, Will says right up front that he's marrying Suellen, and then gives a lovely speech about Gerald and how he was really dead since Ellen died.
- Then he asks that no one else speak, and subtly alludes to the fact that Scarlett's pregnant and needs to get in the house, and there no one can say anything bad about Suellen and it's all solved.
- Scarlett has a talk with Grandma Fontaine about whether Suellen is lowering herself by marrying Will; Scarlett doesn't think she is and doesn't actually care anyway and is bored.
- Scarlett is often bored.
- Scarlett's cranky when Grandma says that Ashley is a pitiful specimen, even though he is.
- She realizes Grandma was just winding her up to get her mind off her father's death, and so decides that none of what she said about Ashley was true.
- Love is blind, and in this instance, also really remarkably dense.
- Scarlett gives Gerald's watch to Pork who is groveling and grateful.
- (An aside: Racism works in two major ways in this book. There is out-and-out hatred of black people who are supposed to be the bad guys, and then there is condescension toward the black people who are supposed to be faithful and loyal.)
- Scarlett appeals to Ashley to help her with the mill, but he doesn't want to because he knows she's taking pity on him and that he'll be terrible at running a mill.
- Also, he's worried they might kiss again or some such.
- Scarlett gets Melanie to take her part by pretending she needs Ashley's help, though.
- Ashley can't handle the two of them and he loses. Losing is kind of Ashley's thing.
- Suellen and Will marry; Melanie and Ashley get a house in Atlanta, and Ashley's sister India comes to live with him.
- Melanie becomes a center of social activity because she's so awesome and sweet and suffused with a deep gentleness.
- Scarlett is eager to get the baby born and done with so she can maybe spend time with Ashley and take care of her mills.
- She decides to hire Johnnie Gallagher to run her mill. He's an unpleasant and brutal man.
- Scarlett's going to get convict laborers rather than free black people because you can treat them worse, supposedly.
- Frank is horrified and he wants to forbid her to do it.
- For her part, Scarlett is determined not to have another baby ever.
- Scarlett has her baby.
- At the same time there is much uproar in Atlanta because the KKK lynched a man accused of rape.
- The book thinks this is totally justified, though Scarlett wishes the KKK wouldn't stir up trouble.
- Frank won't let Scarlett go to the mills because he figures she'll be attacked.
- Guess what? Scarlett is furious.
- So Melanie arranges for Archie, a dangerous man who she's taken under her wing, to go with Scarlett and protect her.
- Archie hates black people and Yankees, which is presented as fine, and he also hates women, which is presented as slightly more problematic, but not all that much so.
- Scarlett tells Archie at one point that she's thinking about getting convict laborers and he tells her he'll leave if she does.
- He was a convict for forty years, imprisoned for killing his wife for sleeping with another man, and he was released to go fight against the Yankees.
- Archie says he's already told Melanie, and Scarlett is scandalized.
- They have a chat with a bunch of men talking about how the Georgia legislature has refused to ratify the Constitutional amendments allowing black people (er, more like black men) to vote.
- The Amendments are presented as a great evil, the last straw, and they all talk about how awful the Yankees are.
- Scarlett thinks they should just give in since the Yankees will make their lives miserable; Archie, however, wants to fight.
- Scarlett decides to hire convicts after all, though everybody protests. There's an awful bit about how slaves were super-happy under slavery and are worse off under freedom, and how hiring convicts is therefore nothing like slavery at all. Barf.
- Ashley is not happy with convict labor, and is generally unhappy. Also useless. It is the Ashley way.
- Rhett shows up, and you know what that means: Banter time.
- He tweaks Scarlett about convict labor.
- We learn a little about Rhett's family; he's upset because they're destitute and his father won't let him give them money because of Rhett's rascally ways.
- Rhett's cranky that Ashley is working at the mill.
- Scarlett says he must be jealous, but he assures her this isn't the case. But he is jealous. Duh.
- More talk about lost worlds and Ashley's sadness.
- Rhett tells Scarlett to tell Frank to stay home at night. This reeks of foreshadowing, doesn't it?
- And more about how free black people are out of hand, wanting to vote just as if they were humans and citizens.
- Archie has abandoned Scarlett for using convict labor, so she rides about with a pistol in order to keep a handle on her business.
- While out, she runs into Big Sam, the foreman at Tara.
- In what is maybe the single most racist moment in the book, Sam tells her that he resents the Yankees treating him as if he's equal.
- Scarlett wants to hire Sam to drive her, but he says he needs to get away to Tara because he killed a white Yankee soldier.
- Scarlett feels she still owns Sam and so must protect him. Er…
- Scarlett gets out to the mill, where she discovers that Johnnie Gallagher isn't feeding the convicts the food she buys for them, but is instead selling it for his own profit and letting the convicts starve.
- She upbraids him, but he tells her he'll quit if she gives him trouble, and she doesn't have a replacement so she's stuck.
- Scarlett goes back to Shantytown to meet Sam, but she's attacked for her money by a white man and a black man.
- Sam appears and rescues her.
- She gets back home and Frank goes off to a political meeting.
- Scarlett is mad at him for leaving her; she also hasn't figured out what you all probably already know, which is that Frank is in the KKK.
- At Melanie's, Archie and India and Melanie are very tense.
- Scarlett doesn't know why, but they're all upset because the men-folk are out KKK-ing like heroes, and/or like evil terrorists, depending on your perspective (the second one is the right perspective, though).
- India and Scarlett have a fight; India blames her for putting herself at risk and causing the attack and leading to men having to do what men do.
- Because obviously if women go out by themselves they inevitably provoke attack and it's their fault.
- India still hasn't managed to tell Scarlett about the KKK when Rhett shows up, saying he was with Yankees and they told him that they've set a trap for the KKK.
- Rhett gets Melanie to tell him where the KKK meets, despite India thinking he's a traitor.
- Rhett rides off heroically to save the racist violent vigilante thugs from the consequences of their actions. Hooray.
- The women stay put and pretend to be sewing in case they're being spied upon.
- Sure enough, Yankees show up.
- Melanie starts reading Les Misérables, a famous book about the trials of poor people. Oh, the poor KKK, riding through the night to murder people.
- Then they hear Rhett singing and Ashley and Hugh Elsing speaking in a drunken voice.
- They all pretend they were drunk and at Belle Watling's house drinking and gambling and paying for prostitutes, effectively fooling the Yankees.
- They go, and then they have to tend to Ashley, who was pretending to be drunk but was actually shot.
- They'd escaped by sneaking into Belle Watling's for shelter.
- Rhett has a key; apparently he does sleep with her.
- Belle helped them all out because—like the black people in the story—she loves a society that treats her like dirt.
- (In case you hadn't noticed yet, Gone with the Wind loves to believe that people who are treated like dirt adore their oppressors.)
- Anyway, Rhett sends Archie off on an errand and it turns out that errand is to bury Frank, who has been killed.
- Rhett's stratagem works and the men all escape justice for being racist terrorist vigilantes. Yay.
- The men are ridiculed by the Yankees for having visited Belle Watling's though.
- Belle Watling goes to Melanie's house; Melanie had wanted to visit her, but Belle says that's not fitting.
- Melanie thanks Belle, which supposedly shows how generous and good Melanie is.
- Belle blames Scarlett for prancing around town; she's as conventional in her morality as anyone in the city.
- Scarlett is sad and feels guilty for killing Frank, since women are responsible for being attacked and men can't help going on a spree of racist terror and getting shot while doing so.
- Scarlett does a lot of drinking.
- Rhett shows up, and figures out right away that she's been drinking.
- She confesses that she feels she killed Frank, and she tells him about her dream in which she's hungry.
- Rhett tells her that she doesn't really care about Frank, but is just worried she'll go to hell; then he asks her to marry him.
- She doesn't want to, but he sweeps her off her feet and kisses her and she says yes.
- Then she explains that she's marrying him because she's fond of him, not because she really loves him.
- He is pained, but she doesn't get it because she's really oblivious.
- They announce their marriage and Atlanta determines to hate them—they're both too friendly with the Yankees.
- There's an election and the Republican Bullock wins.
- Mrs. Merriwether breaks with Scarlett, while Mammy is angry about the marriage and calls Rhett a mule.
- Rhett thinks that's funny.
Part 5 / Chapter 48
- Rhett and Scarlett go to New Orleans where they hang out with lowly bohemian sorts.
- Scarlett and Rhett seem happy, but he is restrained and she doesn't understand him.
- He's in love with her and she's too oblivious to pick up on it; in her defense, however, he hasn't told her.
- So instead he spoils her, and says he'll give her a house of her own, and lets her build a gaudy monstrosity.
- He won't give her money for the stores or the mills, though, because he's still jealous of Ashley.
- Back to Atlanta, where the women are talking about how they hate Scarlett.
- Melanie overhears India and Mrs. Merriwether and says that India is still jealous of Scarlett for stealing Stuart from her.
- Melanie gets the other women to agree to call on Scarlett.
- Rhett knows they won't really accept her in society, and he warns her she'll be in trouble when the Yankees get back in power.
- Scarlett has Bullock in her house and that makes everyone even more upset; even Melly won't meet him there.
- Then sweet Melly spews some racist swill about how horrible it is that black people have power over them because of the Yankees.
- The book spends some time on how vulgar the Yankees are.
- Rhett is still restrained and crabby and in love, but won't say anything because he's still spineless.
- Scarlett is going to have a baby, and wants to get an abortion.
- Rhett won't let her because he fears that she'll die, and though this makes Scarlett thinks he cares about her, he pretends he doesn't. Some marriage.
- Scarlett has the baby and it's a girl; Rhett is smitten and proud and proceeds to somewhat win over the town through his devotion to the child, who's called Bonnie.
- Scarlett goes out to talk to Ashley.
- He's jealous and babbles at her about how coarse Rhett is.
- She was already going to tell Rhett no more sex and no more babies, but now she actually does so.
- He says he doesn't care because he'll go find other women elsewhere.
- Also he says if he did care he would just rape her. Nice.
- Wade's at home and sad because he can't go to a party. He never gets to go to parties because the town thinks Scarlett and Rhett are traitors.
- Rhett realizes that social ostracism will hurt Bonnie's chances at marriage and general happiness, and determines to placate the neighbors.
- Some more about how awful Reconstruction government is.
- Rhett goes about recouping his reputation, telling people he served in the army and generally sucking up to everyone.
- Bonnie has night terrors and so Rhett has her come sleep in his room.
- Bonnie gets him to drink less, too, because she doesn't like the smell of alcohol, and he comes home earlier to put her to bed.
- It's Ashley's birthday, and there's a surprise reception for him.
- Scarlett goes to see Ashley at the mill and discovers that he already knows there's going to be a party; a lot of the men have told him.
- They talk about the old days and Scarlett is surprised to find that she's not in love with him in the same way.
- She cries thinking about the past and Ashley hugs her; India, Archie, and Mrs. Elsing catch them embracing.
- They were only embracing as friends, but Scarlett knows everyone will believe they're lovers, and is afraid especially of facing Melanie.
- She thinks she won't go to the party, but Rhett (whom Archie told) insists that she must or she'll be completely cast out.
- Rhett believes she was cheating on him with Ashley, and is quite cruel to her.
- Scarlett goes to the party and Melly greets her and asks her to do the receiving with her because India couldn't make it
- Back after the party, Scarlett is upset. She goes downstairs for a drink, and finds Rhett, already drunk.
- He's still quite upset himself.
- He tells her Melly had been told about her embracing Ashley, but that she had not believed it was true.
- Rhett says he knows she wasn't physically unfaithful, but that she is in love with Ashley not him; he also says she's an idiot because she wouldn't even want Ashley if she had him.
- At least he admits he's jealous, though. Finally.
- Then he sweeps her off her feet and has sex with her in a scene that flirts with the suggestion that he rapes her and she enjoys it.
- Scarlett wants to see him the next morning and seems to maybe be falling in love, but he doesn't come back all day, and when he finally returns he says he's been at Belle's.
- Scarlett's afraid to tell him she loves him; he's afraid to tell her he loves her.
- He tells her he's leaving and going to New Orleans with Bonnie, and that he'd like a divorce.
- But she won't give him one.
- Scarlett wants to explain to Melly that she and Ashley are innocent of bad behavior, but Melly won't let her explain.
- Archie has been sent packing, and Melanie has kicked India out of the house as well.
- There's a huge scandal, with people taking sides for and against Scarlett.
- India has gone to live in Pittypat's house, which means that Melanie is cold to Pittypat, which causes Pittypat anguish, but she can't bring herself to kick India out.
- Scarlett can't ever see Ashley now, and is worried that he hates her.
- She also misses Rhett.
- And then she discovers that she's pregnant.
- She doesn't want to write Rhett, though, and show weakness.
- He finally comes back and when she tells him she's pregnant, he suggests the baby might be Ashley's, and then when she tells him it's his, he says she can hope for a miscarriage.
- She swings at him, he moves away, and down the stairs she falls.
- So she does in fact miscarry.
- Melanie nurses her.
- Rhett completely falls apart and Melly finds him confessing and guilty, babbling about Belle and how Scarlett didn't really want a baby.
- He's whining about how she didn't really love him and how he's awful. Ugh.
- Scarlett goes home to Tara.
- Rhett decides to help out by going to Melly and inducing her to help Ashley buy the mill out from Scarlett.
- Scarlett enjoys Tara, and when she comes back home things are more pleasant.
- Rhett manipulates her into agreeing to let Ashley buy her out.
- She has an argument with Ashley about using convict labor; he isn't going to do it when he owns the mill.
- Rhett tweaks her about how her money hasn't made her happy—but you know, he's not happy either.
- Rhett is a Southern Democrat now; he and Ashley help end the Klan.
- He looks forward to putting Republicans behind bars for corruption and having Democrats run the state.
- And as Rhett predicted, the Republicans are run out.
- Scarlett is confused, and not especially happy that Rhett is in good standing with the neighbors, while she is not.
- Bonnie is spoiled.
- They get her a pony, and she likes jumping it.
- And then they let her jump higher and higher and she ends up falling off the horse and dying.
- The death doesn't pull Rhett and Scarlett together; instead Scarlett tells Rhett that he's murdered her baby through his indulgence and he tells her she doesn't like any of her children and they just make each other more miserable.
- Rhett doesn't want to bury Bonnie because she's afraid of the dark, so he lights candles around her and says he'll shoot anyone who comes in if they try to bury her.
- This is all told through Mammie, by the way, who's relating it all to Melanie.
- Melly goes to Rhett and gets him to leave Bonnie's side and allow the funeral the next day.
- So life goes on. Scarlett wants to reach out to Rhett and apologize for accusing him, but he's cold and distant and generally a mess, drinking and letting himself go.
- Mammy goes back to Tara.
- Scarlett would have another baby if it would make Rhett happy, but he won't come near her, and just seems bitter and angry and sad.
- Melly had a miscarriage and is dying.
- She asks for Scarlett, but Scarlett is afraid she knows about her and Ashley, but Melly doesn't, which is a relief.
- Instead she asks Scarlett to look after her son and to look after Ashley.
- Scarlett realizes Melly has always been there for her and that she loves her and doesn't know how to go on without her. She's a little late on this realization, if we do say so ourselves.
- Anyway, she goes out to see Ashley, who is bereft.
- She tells him he's an idiot and should have known long ago that he loves Melanie, not her.
- He should have told her that he didn't love her, and they both could have just gotten on with it.
- Then she feels bad because it's Ashley, so this is kind of like kicking a puppy.
- She realizes she never loved Ashley, who is useless, but now she's promised Melly she'll take care of him, so she'll have to.
- Scarlett realizes she's in love with Rhett, and goes running home to tell him.
- Rhett is drunk and being awful.
- He thinks Scarlett wants to get a divorce and marry Ashley, but she tells Rhett she loves him and has for years and never loved Ashley.
- Unfortunately, Rhett doesn't love her anymore.
- He says he loved her before, but he was afraid to tell her because she treated the men who loved her badly.
- He reveals all and she says they can start over, and he says no because he's afraid of being hurt.
- He says he's going away to England or Paris to get away from her, or maybe to Charleston to make up with his family.
- She asks him what she'll do and he says he doesn't care.
- Scarlett decides to go back to Tara, and determines to get Rhett back.
- Not sure if you've noticed, but Scarlett usually gets what she wants.