Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell|
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FREE PLOT SUMMARY FOR GONE WITH THE WIND
Scarlett's practical attitude toward the end of the war shows that she
neither believed in the southern cause nor truly understood it in the
first place. She thinks that she can grow more cotton, plant other crops
and restore her home to what it was.
Peter arrives from Pittypat’s house in Atlanta. He begins by berating Melanie and Scarlett for not returning home to Miss Pittypat, but the real purpose of his visit is to bring a letter from Ashley. Melanie faints, which gives Scarlett an opportunity to snatch the letter and open it herself. The letter begins with "Beloved, I am coming home to you," which Scarlett immediately interprets as directed toward herself.
As weeks pass and Ashley does not arrive, Scarlett realizes the letter was directed to Melanie. She wishes Melanie had died in childbirth so she could have married Ashley herself. During one meal she speaks sharply to Melanie for taking small portions of food so that the never ending stream of returning soldiers can have something to eat. Melanie tells Scarlett that she gives up her own food in hopes that maybe some Yankee housewife is giving up a little to help Ashley get home.
One of the strangers that enters the home is Will Benteen, a young man who once had a farm in Georgia. The girls gradually nurse him back to health, and he stays on at Tara, gradually taking on many of the plantation burdens in an attempt to pay them back for saving his life. Scarlett soon discovers that Will is a shrewd trader and an efficient worker although he never seems to show any evidence of exertion or excitement. He also is interested in Carreen, Scarlett’s youngest sister. Scarlett wishes Carreen would return the interest rather than spending all her days mooning over the dead Brent Tarleton.
At the end of the chapter, yet another soldier appears; this time, it
is Ashley. Will grabs Scarlett’s skirt, preventing her from running after
Melanie to greet him.
Peter brings a sense of humor to the story and also shows a side to the slavery issue that people don't often think about. He is intensely loyal to Pittypat and acts with more authority than one might expect. Although he is the old lady's servant, he is also her guardian. Pittypat's message was not that he was to bring the girls home although she certainly would have liked to have them back in Atlanta. However, in Peter's opinion, the girls' home is in Atlanta and Pittypat needs them there. They don't take him seriously, but he makes sure that he delivers his own lecture before giving them the real reason for his visit.
Of course, the real reason is Ashley's letter, which would have been sent
to Atlanta, as he has no way of knowing that his wife is at Tara. In the
meantime, Will Benteen, formerly a small acreage farmer, has made himself
a necessary part of Tara. He is supposedly not in the O'Hara's class,
a fact which is in his favor, as his own experience has equipped him with
the knowledge and skills to perform the work required on a plantation.
He is quiet and unassuming, but very intuitive. He knows that Scarlett
is in love with Ashley; although he prevents her from interrupting the
reunion between Melanie and Ashley, he understands her and does not attempt
to criticize her.
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Ruff, Dr. KSC. "TheBestNotes on Gone With the Wind".
. 09 May 2017