Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell|
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GONE WITH THE WIND FREE ONLINE SUMMARY
This chapter foreshadows the growth of a quiet, but powerful friendship between Melanie and Rhett. The fact that the most noble character in the book likes the "rogue" validates our own fondness for him.
As the previous chapter suggested, we can't help but like him as he uses his
influence to protect the people he is interested in. He returned Melanie's
ring because he could see how it tortured her to donate it and that she
genuinely loved her husband. However, he donated far more for the ring
than it was worth and toward the cause in which he himself did not believe.
He also acts to protect Scarlett from having to return to Tara when he
deliberately gets her father drunk. Once Scarlett has something to hold
over her father, she can get her own way. She and her father both fear
Scarlett snoops into a packet of letters Ashley has written to Melanie. Melanie
generally shares portions of the letters with the family, but it is the
parts she doesn’t read that torment Scarlett. By this time she has been
surreptitiously reading the letters for so long that it doesn’t bother
her conscience. She seeks information that would reveal that Ashley still
loves her, or at the very least, that he doesn’t love his wife. He addresses
Melanie as "my dear," not honey or darling, which seems comfortingly
formal to Scarlett. In this latest letter, he talks primarily about the
war, reminding Melanie of the tall stranger at the barbecue who had predicted
that the south would lose. Ashley says they have been betrayed into thinking
that one or two of them could whip a dozen Yankees, and that war is nothing
like the boys had thought it would be. His dread of losing irritates Scarlett;
she returns the letters in anticipation of a better one on another day.
It seems that Scarlett has no conscience when it comes to gleaning information for herself. She thinks she has found proof that Ashley really doesn't love his wife, but is too shallow to see that he is actually sharing his deepest feelings in his letters to her. Ashley is a symbol of a lifestyle and will never change. He participates in the war but he doesn't believe in the war or in the southern cause. He believes, like Rhett, that the south is doomed to lose and wishes they had listened to him instead of to the statesmen who predicted an easy victory. He also realizes that whether the south wins or loses, they will lose the easy, lazy, slow lifestyle of which he was a part. These are concerns that he could not share with his comrades or with anyone that he did not trust completely.
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Ruff, Dr. KSC. "TheBestNotes on Gone With the Wind".
. 09 May 2017