Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell|
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FREE CHAPTER NOTES - GONE WITH THE WIND
By the time Scarlett has been at Tara for two weeks, she realizes her father is no longer in his right mind and that he will always be waiting for Ellen. One day they are visited by a Yankee soldier who enters the house uninvited and attempts to carry off Ellenís sewing box. When he tries to approach Scarlett, she shoots him. Afterward, she looks up the stairs and sees Melanie standing there, a look of admiration in her face. In a moment of insight, she realizes Melanie would have done the same thing and that beneath the quiet, gentle temperament, her sister in law has a "thin, flashing blade" of courage and strong will. She and Melanie go through the manís pockets, finding both Union and Confederate money along with some diamond earrings and other jewels that he had stolen before reaching Tara.
After she buries the man under the arbor in her back yard, she uses the horse to go to Mimosa, the home of the Fontaines, in hopes of finding Dr. Fontaine for Melanie. Dr. Fontaine is not there, but, happily, the Yankees have not found the Fontaine house. Grandma Fontaine challenges her to pick her own cotton rather than bemoaning the lack of field hands to do it. Scarlett is shocked, associating field work with "white trash," but Grandma rebukes her, saying that honest work never made trash out of anyone.
Scarlett finds out that although the Yankees never reached Tarletons, they did get to the Calverts where they stole all the livestock and promised silk dresses and gold earrings to the black females if they would run off with them. The Calvert house was saved by the fact the Mrs. Calvert was a Yankee herself and because her overseer, Hilton, was also Yankee.
Before Scarlett leaves the Fontaines, Old Miss, as they call the grandmother, takes her outside and asks her what she is hiding. Scarlett realizes that Grandmaís demeanor is such that she is in no danger of crying in the old ladyís presence, so she tells her that her mother has died. Mrs. Fontaine then tells Scarlett of her own experience in the Creek massacre when she saw her own mother murdered and scalped. She cautions Scarlett to always hang onto something to fear and something to love. Scarlett doesnít understand what the old woman is trying to tell her and fidgets impatiently.
The visit to the Fontaines lifts Scarlettís spirits; in spite of her
earlier objections, she works in the fields to pick the cotton. Dilcey
works with her and Prissy dabbles in the fields here and there. Scarlettís
sisters and the other slaves complain and pick so slowly that Scarlett
gives up and sends them off to do other chores. At any rate, now that
Scarlett has a horse, a little money hoarded from the Yankee soldier and
access to better food, it seems as though the worst is over.
This chapter begins the development of a relationship between Scarlett and Melanie. Scarlett has no use for weakness or feigned lady-like submissiveness, ignorance or frailty. While she is capable and quite willing to lie to suit her own ends, she is brutally honest with herself. She knows that Melanie shouldn't even be out of bed, much less be trying to drag around a dead body or scrub a floor. But Melanie is doing what she herself would do, and she can't help admire her for it.
Grandma Fontaine is a minor character, but she has a shrewdness that sees
beneath the cultural facade. In telling her own story, she is trying to
show Scarlett that other people have also suffered terrible things and
have survived without sacrificing their dignity or their ideals. She wants
her to understand that there is no shame in hard work, that picking cotton
to enable one's family to survive does not make one any less a lady. Scarlett,
however, has never been able to make those kinds of connections, so it
seems to her that the old lady is just rambling about days past and doesn't
have any sympathy for her at all. Nevertheless, the words seem to have
an impact; Scarlett will lead the way to restoring the crop land of Tara.
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Ruff, Dr. KSC. "TheBestNotes on Gone With the Wind".
. 09 May 2017