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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Rhett returns to Atlanta and Scarlett and reveals some of his own background. He has a legal ward in New Orleans whom he visits frequently. Also, his father has recently died, but there is no mourning on Rhettís part. His father had kicked him out years before for being too much like his grandfather and was further embittered when Rhett turned to gambling and made a success of it. Rhett has tried to send money to his mother and sister who were reduced to a two-room shack by the war, but his father sent back every check. Now that his father is dead, he has purchased a house for his mother and set up some provisions for her.

Rhett challenges Scarlett on giving Ashley an interest in her mill, as that was the one condition against which he loaned her the money. In spite of the fact that she has already repaid the loan, he considers her to have broken the contract, and he vows he will never loan her another cent. He tries again to explain to her that Ashley is useless, one of the old world who would prefer to be dead because he cannot adjust to the changes of the new world. Scarlett vaguely remembers a similar explanation from Ashley himself. As he leaves the house, Rhett advises Scarlett to tell her husband that he ought to spend more nights at home if he wants to see his little daughter grow up.


Rhett is hinting to Scarlet that Frank is involved in more than harmless political meetings. He also tells her the same things about Ashley that Ashley told her himself. When she gives him the interest in her mill, she does not think about Rhett's condition. She never gave Ashley any part of the original loan, and that has been repaid. In her opinion, she owns the mill and can do what she wants with it.

Scarlett does not understand that Rhett has nothing personal against Ashley. It's just that he knows what kind of person Ashley is and fears that he will be nothing more than an additional burden to Scarlett who has already taken on more than any woman of her day would have been expected to shoulder.



Scarlett has been driving alone to the mill in Decatur in spite of the increased danger. Since the legislature refused to ratify the right to vote for blacks, Georgia has been stripped of statehood, declared a military district and put under strict martial law. On this particular day, as she rides through Shantytown on the way to her mill, she meets Big Sam, the black foreman of Tara who had been conscripted right before the siege.

Sam spent time after the siege in the service of a Yankee general who took an interest in him. He went north with the general after the war but didnít like his situation. He tells Scarlett that people pretended to like him and were always questioning him about beatings at the hands of his master. They never believed him when he told them how good he had it at Tara. Scarlett wants him to stay on in Atlanta and become her driver, but he canít because he accidentally killed a white man for some vulgar insult. Because of his size, he would be easily recognized and is therefore hiding in Shantytown until he can get to Tara.

At the Decatur mill, Scarlett finds her convicts dejected and starved. She discovers that Johnny Gallagher has been beating and starving the convicts and selling the supplies of food she has been sending. She gives the men one of the last two remaining hams to divide among themselves and challenges Johnny on his treatment of the men. In response, Johnny threatens to quit if she meddles in the way he treats the convicts. She docks his pay for the stolen supplies and says they will discuss the matter on another day, but she knows Johnny has won.

On the way home, two men, one white and one black, jump out at her from Shantytown. They try to drag her off the buggy, but Big Sam also appears and jumps to her defense. She is unhurt although her dress is torn; Big Sam drives her home.


Scarlett may begin to understand why Frank did not want her to use convicts. She had been providing for them in the same way she would have provided for slaves on her own plantation. But even though she did not expect Gallagher to abuse them, she is trapped and can do little to change his methods without losing him altogether.

The attack on her from Shantytown has been foreshadowed for some time. Big Sam is merely a devise to save her from real harm. The fact that he cannot stay because of a price on his own head is a convenient way to get him into and back out of the story.

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Ruff, Dr. KSC. "TheBestNotes on Gone With the Wind". . 09 May 2017