Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell|
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FREE LITERARY ANALYSIS - GONE WITH THE WIND
Scarlett wants some sort of comfort from Ashley, perhaps a suggestion of where they might get the money or even an apology for not having such an idea. Ashley, however, has nothing to offer her and has a low opinion of even his own ability to help. In contrast to Will, Ashley has never engaged in even the simplest physical labor and is unfit to do anything but read books, discuss intellectual topics, and bask in the benefits of a big plantation. Scarlett's question, "What will become of us?" is answered with vague generalities. She wants to know how they will live at the moment, where they will get money to pay the taxes so they don't end up homeless, but he changes the subject to what will happen to the southern culture, to those who will be "winnowed out" because they have neither the brains nor the courage to adapt to a new life. She tries to bring him back to earth by telling him not to "talk nonsense" when they are the ones who will be "winnowed out," but he tells her he can't help her, that his own tendency to shrink from reality makes it even harder to face new realities that come along on a daily basis. His words excite Scarlett because he seems to be trying to truly share his thoughts with her, but she has no comprehension of what he is talking about.
Scarlett ends up comforting him, trying to tell him that they will figure
something out. He sees no hope in their situation and begins talking about
escape. Again she misunderstands him and takes him literally. For a few
minutes, she would leave her family and Tara as well, to run away with
him. At least he has his feet on the ground solidly enough to know that
Melanie and Beau are a part of his reality and that he will not hurt them
no matter how much he is attracted to Scarlett. It's little wonder that
she spends most of her life believing that he really loved her in the
first place. It seems that he does love her, but he loves his wife, too.
He is a man caught between fantasy and reality. Melanie is a part of his
dream, a part of the past life he wants to cling to, but at the same time,
she is his reality. Scarlett represents a bold, practical, straightforward
approach to life at any given moment. She is the one who sees the reality
of their situation most clearly, but she is also his fantasy.
Scarlett arrives back at the house, the clay still in her hand, to see Jonas Wilkerson and Emily Slattery getting out of a coach and walking up to the front steps. Emily is dressed like a slut, flaunting her new wealth-acquired through her marriage to Wilkerson. Scarlett angrily tells them to get lost and deliberately insults Emily. Wilkerson tells her not to talk so to "his wife"; he claims they were making a neighborly visit and he had intended to offer a fair price for Tara, as Emily had always wanted to live there.
The identity of the person who wants Tara makes Scarlett even more desperate.
She recalls Ashley’s words, that the only person he knows who has money
is Rhett Butler. She pulls down her mother’s velvet curtains, and, after
a good bit of persuasion, gets Mammy to help her make a new dress. Her
strategy is to go to Atlanta, find Rhett and get him to marry her so she
will have access to his money. Mammy agrees to help her make the dress,
but insists on going to Atlanta with her. Ashley blames himself for driving
Scarlett to that extreme. He admires her determination in ways that she
herself would never understand.
Ashley blames himself, but it is actually the visit from the Wilkersons that pushes Scarlett into her trip to Atlanta. The very idea that Emmie Slattery, the "dirty, tow-headed slut...who had given typhoid to Ellen," might take Tara from her is more than she can endure. This is the final insult to Tara, and Scarlett tells herself that she would burn Tara to the ground before she would see it turned over to such scum.
Scarlett had thought that life would return to normal when the war was over, but in this chapter she realizes that for her and many of her people, the war will never be over. In fact, in many ways, the real fighting is just beginning. She feels that she has become a woman who has nothing to fear. Since Ashley has failed her, she no longer fears the loss of love or the stigma of public opinion. Her only fear is hunger, and she will stop at nothing to insure against it.
Scarlett underestimates Rhett, however. She thinks that if she goes to him
"as a queen granting favors," he will fall for her. She forgets
how quickly he responded to the needs of the people in Atlanta before
the war, how generously he responds to a person who comes to him with
sincerity. She thinks that she has to have the appearance of a well to
do "lady" in order to get his interest. Since she does not love
him, or thinks she doesn't, she believes she has to trick him into helping
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Ruff, Dr. KSC. "TheBestNotes on Gone With the Wind".
. 09 May 2017