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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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After Frank’s funeral, Rhett brings news to Scarlett. She unburdens herself to him by telling him that she is afraid of going to hell for killing Frank and being so unkind to him. She claims that she should have done things differently. Rhett soon talks her out of her self-pity and tells her he is about to make a trip to England. He will be gone for some time and wants her to marry him when he returns. She tries to refuse as she thinks of Ashley, but Rhett kisses her passionately and melts her hesitation. She agrees to marry him, even though she doesn’t love him. She tells him it is partly his money and partly because she really is fond of him and realizes they have a lot in common.

When Rhett returns to Georgia, he brings Scarlett a ring so huge and gaudy that even she is almost embarrassed to wear it. Once he is home she announces her engagement. The very notion of her marrying the public rogue is enough to set old families against her, but she makes her engagement public at the same time as an election in which a Yankee governor is being forced on Georgia. The legislature had never accepted the right of blacks to vote, but under martial law, it is permitted anyway, and the blacks elect a Republican named Bullock. That fact that Bullock is a friend of Rhett’s angers the people even more. Even Mammy, whose good will Scarlett would like to have, objects to the marriage with "trash."


Rhett believes that Scarlett's sudden guilty conscience is only on account of getting "caught." She fears that other people will blame her for Frank's death, and she has no way of excusing herself. Rhett acts quickly because he fears that Scarlett would marry someone else before he had a chance to get her for himself if he doesn't speak up. When he kisses her, her body responds, and she enjoys the sensation. She is still too busy fantasizing over Ashley, however, to realize that she could be very much in love with Rhett if she would face reality in love with the same brutality that she has faced it in business or day-to-day activities. He does help her to see that regardless of any late attack of conscience, she could not have behaved any differently.




Scarlett and Rhett spend their honeymoon in New Orleans where Rhett indulges her in extravagances of every kind. He laughs when she admires his friends, for his New Orleans associates are carpetbaggers and crooks, and it is typical of Scarlett to be indiscriminate in the people she thinks she would like for friends. They have a lovers’ quarrel one night when Rhett catches her fantasizing that she is in Ashley’s arms instead of his. He leaves and returns drunk, and they are cold to each other the next day. However, that night she has her recurring nightmare in which she dreams she and all her family are hungry again.

In the dream, she runs into a mist, knowing that she would be safe if only she could find who or what is in the mist. She never can, and she awakes terrified and sweating. Rhett holds her in his arms and promises she will never be hungry or unsafe so long as he is around. They discuss the building of their own house. Rhett would like a Creole styled house or even a colonial one with pillars, but Scarlett wants a Swiss chalet with scroll designs and lavish furnishings. Rhett is unable to convince her that no amount of money-if it is believed to be ill-gotten-will bring the citizens of the old South to the sumptuous parties she is dreaming of.


Rhett and Scarlett are a great deal alike in many ways. They are both intelligent, ruthless, and driven to get what they want. However, Rhett is different in that he knows that his decisions made him an outcast. Although he is not selfish with his ill-gotten gains, he is aware of the price he paid to get them, and he accepts the cost without complaint. Scarlett, however, still thinks that money can buy everything, including friendship and social status.

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