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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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FREE STUDY GUIDE FOR GONE WITH THE WIND

CHAPTER 20

Summary

At the end of August the siege of Atlanta abruptly falls silent. The people soon hear that the Yankees have amassed a large body of troops against Jonesboro and the southern soldiers have been withdrawn from the lines around Atlanta to fight for the Macon railroad. Further word from home reveals that Mrs. O'Hara and both girls are dangerously sick with typhoid.

On the morning of the first of September, the sounds of shelling can be heard again-south of Atlanta this time. On the same morning, Melanie calls for her and asks her to take care of her baby if she should die. Scarlett hurriedly agrees as Melanie tells her that she is in labor.


Notes

None needed.


CHAPTER 21

Summary

Scarlett sends Prissy from place to place in search of a doctor or midwife to help with Melanie. The little slave manages to find out that there is fighting at Jonesboro and the confederates are losing, but she is unable to find a midwife. Finally Scarlett goes out herself. From Peachtree Street to Five points, the streets are crowded with wounded soldiers and with wagons full of household goods. She stops a soldier who tells her they have lost at Jonesboro; the army is in full retreat and will soon be evacuating Atlanta. When she does find Dr. Meade, it is in the middle of a street lined with bodies of dead and dying men. Dr. Meade refuses to leave the soldiers, telling her there is nothing much to delivering a baby. Scarlett returns home to find out that Prissy lied to her and knows nothing about midwifery, yet the two of them will have to deliver Melanie’s baby.

Notes

It is ironic that the same doctor who warned Scarlett that Melanie would probably have a hard time with her delivery, and that he didn't want some midwife doing it, is now sending Scarlett for those very midwives. It should be a symbolic gesture to have new life coming into the world at the very moment when many others are dying, but the world into which that baby is coming is one with little promise and little hope for a happy future. One thing is assured; the new baby will be a part of a new world that will be a series of uncertainties.

Scarlett also gets a taste of her own medicine in finding out that Prissy has lied to her. Earlier Prissy had told her that she knew all about birthing babies because she had helped her mother do it many times. The truth is, she was always sent out of the room when it came time for a birth, so she actually knows nothing at all about it. This leaves Scarlett as completely alone as she has ever been up to this time of her life.


CHAPTER 22

Summary

The baby boy is finally born and alive in spite of a series of mishaps due to Prissy’s ineptitude. Late in the evening the last of the soldiers from the breastwork pass the house, acknowledging to Scarlett that they are leaving Atlanta and the Yankees are coming. It suddenly dawns on Scarlett to seek help from Rhett Butler and she sends Prissy to find him.

Notes

Scarlett cares much more for Rhett than she is willing to admit. Only a few days previous to this, she had told him to leave and never return, and now she is sending for him. In spite of the horrible way she treats him, she knows that if she needs him, he'll be there.

 

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