Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell|
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ONLINE BOOK SUMMARY - GONE WITH THE WIND
A group of Yankee soldiers arrive asking for Frank and Ashley. When told that the men are not home, the blue-coats surround the house and wait. Soon Rhett returns with Ashley and Hugh Elsing-all feigning drunkenness. The soldiers try to arrest Ashley and Hugh. They take Hugh, but Rhett convinces them that all the men were with him at Belle Watling’s house. Once the soldiers are gone, the men stop play-acting, as Ashley is not drunk but suffering from a gunshot wound.
Rhett explains that several of the men who stayed together had shoved
their robes up a chimney. They would have taken off for Texas, but they
would not leave Ashley. Rhett took them by a back way to the Watling house
where they staged a drama of rowdy behavior. Belle had them "thrown
out" by Yankee soldiers who were drinking at the bar. Frank Kennedy,
however, was not with them. He has been shot through the head and is being
carried to a vacant lot with another dead man. They will be placed in
such a way as to indicate a common dual.
Frank is actually protecting Scarlett in sending her to Melanie's house; also, his silence is ominous and suggests volumes to the reader even if Scarlett is unable to interpret it correctly. Rhett's connections are extremely useful; one wonders if he has allowed himself to be considered a turncoat and a rogue purposely so the Yankees will trust him and provide him with inside information that no one else would know. At any rate, his knowledge provides a clever device for getting the Ku Klux Klan men out of trouble. Furthermore, his strength and nobility of character is portrayed ever more clearly as he immediately springs to the defense of the very people who despise him.
Archie's presence creates some protection for the women and provides
a character who can explain the truth of the KKK to Scarlett. The Klan
and its members had been kept secret from Scarlett, probably because they
couldn't be sure she could be trusted not to reveal the information to
the wrong people. Also, Scarlett has been selling her lumber to Yankees,
making the deals and the contracts herself, thus identifying herself with
the enemy. Her craving for money is never fully satisfied, and her rational
for such intense involvement with the Yankees is not accepted by any of
the Old Guard. As time goes on, she is more and more alienated from her
own people, but they avoid her rather than telling her about the repercussions
her behavior is having on them.
Rhett and Belle Watling create a convincing story before the provost
court and all the men get off. Melanie sends a note to Belle to thank
her. Then Belle has her carriage driven near the house and sends for Melanie.
Belle tells Melanie that she should not have sent the note as she was
risking all their safety by doing so. Belle explains that in spite of
their stories, Ashley has never really been at her place before. However,
she expresses contempt for Scarlett and says that if it had been Frank
Kennedy alone, she would not have lifted a finger to help.
The seriousness of Scarlett's behavior is highlighted by the fact that even
Belle, the "bad woman" of the town, has too much class and decency
to do the things Scarlett has done. It is ironic, however, that prostitution
is more acceptable than building a business on the back of one's enemies.
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Ruff, Dr. KSC. "TheBestNotes on Gone With the Wind".
. 09 May 2017