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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Scarlett gets her first glimpse of Atlanta after the war. She is disheartened to see the absence of many familiar homes, but takes encouragement from all the construction underway. Scarlett hopes to be able to borrow money from her relatives, but Pittypat tearfully explains all the details of her lost farms and lack of money. Discussion of other members of the old Atlanta set reveal that people are doing things to survive that they never would have dreamed of in the old life. Mrs. Merriwether and Maybelle have been baking pies and selling them to Yankee soldiers. Rene Picard drives a wagon to the Yankee camp every day and sells cakes, pies and biscuits to the soldiers. The Meades have lost their home and have moved in with the Elsings who were able to rebuild the damaged part of their home. With the Whitings, who also have a room there, the Elsings are essentially running a boarding house-a dreadful state for people of such cultured backgrounds.

During the supper conversation, Aunt Pittypat spills the information that Rhett is in jail and may be hanged for killing a black man and that he has more money than anyone can count. Scarlett immediately fantasizes about how she would have all the millions herself if she could just get Rhett to marry her before he is hung. She takes advantage of her own travel weariness and asks to spend the morrow in bed while Pittypat and Mammy go out calling on friends.


None needed.



Scarlett visits Rhett in jail, a building that was at one time one of the grand houses where she had been a guest at numerous parties. She puts on an act, hinting that she is in love with him and claiming to be distressed over the possibility that he could be hung. The ruse almost works until Rhett sees her callused, work-worn hands. He guesses the truth; that she had been hoping to trick him into offering marriage. Her plan ruined, Scarlett tells him the whole truth about the situation at Tara including her desperate need for money to pay the taxes. She offers him a lien on Tara, which he refuses. Finally she offers herself, promising to be his mistress when he gets out of jail. It amazes Rhett that when he asked her to be his mistress during the war, she had reacted angrily, calling him names and saying she never wanted to see him again; she wonít do such a thing for her own pleasure, but she will do it to save her home. However, after letting Scarlett make a fool of herself, he explains to her that he canít give her the money because in his present circumstances, he is unable to write a draft for it.


Scarlett's determination to sacrifice even herself if it will save her home is actually a positive characteristic. We know as soon as Rhett sees her hands that he will not give her any money. In fact, if Scarlett had been thinking clearly, she should have known that while he was in jail, he could not reveal the location of his funds. He wants to see how far she will go in begging him to help her; it is ironic that the proud Scarlett would debase herself so completely to protect Tara when at one time she scoffed at the very idea of land having any importance. Nevertheless, her priorities at this point are not out of line.

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