Study Guide

Gone With the Wind Part 4 / Chapter 31

By Margaret Mitchell

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).