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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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After being rejected by Rhett, Scarlett walks home to Pittypat’s house and on the way is given a ride by Frank Kennedy, her sister Suellen’s beau. Frank tells her that he owns a store and a sawmill and has been working to make money so he and Suellen can be married in the spring. Scarlett pretends that her sister hasn’t told them of Frank’s store or of their plans to marry in the spring. She quickly begins plotting a way to get Frank for herself; she lies about her sister, telling Frank that Suellen has given up on him and is about to get married to Tony Fontaine. She begs him to be the escort for herself and Pittypat to the wedding they are supposed to be attending that evening.

At the party and dance that follows the wedding, Scarlett observes her former friends and associates. She marvels that they act as if their lives haven’t changed a bit in spite of wearing patched clothes and living in a house with broken chandeliers and scarred floors and walls. She tries to tell herself that one cannot be a lady without money but knows in her heart that gentility is an attitude more than a state of wealth. She avoids the dancing by saying she is still in mourning for her mother, but truthfully, her dress is damp and stained around the edges from her day in town, and she doesn’t want anyone to notice it. She sits in an alcove where it is more convenient to flirt with Frank.


Earlier foreshadowing comes to fruition as Scarlett uses Frank Kennedy's weakness to accomplish her own purposes. If she would sacrifice herself to save Tara, one could expect that she would have no hesitation in sacrificing the happiness of her sister, especially as she never had any real love for Suellen anyway. If Rhett was immune to her feminine tricks, Frank is not. Her behavior is exactly what he expects of a girl who has an interest in him; the lie about Suellen is all it takes for him to turn to Scarlett in her place. It is little wonder that Scarlett has so little respect for most men when it takes nothing more than a phony tear and a bit of helpless play-acting to get them to fall over her.



Frank Kennedy and Scarlett are married after a whirlwind, two-week courtship during which Scarlett spends her nights pacing the floor in fear of a letter from her sister that might reveal the truth. Frank gives her the 300 dollars she needs to pay the taxes on Tara even though it means he will not be able to buy the mill he wants. Frank feels frustrated when he discovers that Scarlett is better at math than he is and that she is a woman with a brain. He also discovers Scarlett’s duplicity in getting her to marry him, but is trapped into remaining silent about it. Neither he nor Suellen will talk to each other about it, and he cannot humiliate himself by admitting that he allowed one woman to seduce him into marriage while he was engaged to another.

Two weeks after the wedding, Frank becomes ill and has to confine himself to bed. Scarlett seizes the opportunity to go to the store and look at Frank’s books. She discovers that many of the people in town owe him money that he has been too "gentlemanly" to collect. While she is pouring over the books, Rhett Butler appears. He has been released from jail and has already heard the news that she is married to her sister’s fiancé. They exchange words and insults in their usual fashion before Scarlett admits that she still needs a loan from him. Rhett is willing to give her the money, but first he insists on probing for details about Ashley Wilkes and Scarlett’s relationship with him. When they have discussed Ashley long enough to sicken Rhett, they take a ride to the sawmill which Scarlett buys for herself with Rhett’s money.

Scarlett not only buys the sawmill but runs it herself and peddles lumber as well, refusing to turn it over to her husband in a "womanly" way. Frank feels humiliated and frustrated to see Scarlett change from the simple minded, coquettish flirt to the hard headed, all business, unladylike woman, but he is powerless to do anything about it. As for Scarlett, she realizes that Frank probably could have been an excellent businessman if he had only been willing to forego some of the old southern gentleman ways of doing things and would conduct his business more aggressively. However, she determines to use her own aggressiveness even if he doesn’t have any himself.


There has been very little discussion of Scarlett's education, but she is obviously very intelligent and has some aptitude with math. If Frank would listen to her and work with her, they could make a real success out of his business, but he is too much the southern gentleman to insist that his friends pay their bills. Scarlett realizes that one cannot run a business that way.

In discussing Ashley, Rhett is really trying to ascertain whether or not Scarlett's fantasies for him are reciprocated. He frustrates Scarlett by recognizing immediately that she married for convenience. He finds humor in the idea and tells her that she is closer to the old country than he had thought. However, he also sees and points out how much she has changed. When he saw her before the war at Twelve Oaks, she seemed oblivious to anything but Ashley. He says she wouldn't have even known how many pennies were in the dollar, but is now scheming and planning what she will do when she has money. She will put a new roof on Tara and build a barn and buy mules. She will raise phenomenal quantities of cotton, and none of her family will ever know what it is to be hungry again.

Rhett understands her motivation far better than she realizes as he served 18 months in the defeated Confederate army where he did plenty of "starving" himself. Nevertheless he ruthlessly probes her mind for information on Ashley. He finally draws the conclusion that it is Ashley who has resisted her due an old fashioned sense of honor that is more important to him than love. Yet, when Scarlett insists that, even though they have never had an actual affair, Ashley does love her, Rhett challenges the depth of that love with a question she cannot answer. If Ashley loved her so much, why did he let her come to Atlanta to try to get the money from Rhett in the first place? Scarlett's defense, that Ashley didn't know what she had planned, doesn't work. In Rhett's mind, if Ashley really knew Scarlett, he should have known what she was capable of and what she would do if she were desperate. Scarlett doesn't admit it to Rhett, but she has to admit to herself that if Ashley had tried to stop her, he could have.

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