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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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FREE BOOK NOTES FOR GONE WITH THE WIND

CHAPTER 49

Summary

Scarlett and Rhett return to Atlanta and take up temporary residence in the bridal suite at the National Hotel. The ladies of the town have a heated discussion against calling on the Butlers. The men disagree, saying they will call once to thank Rhett for saving their lives. Melanie defends Scarlett, reminding them of Scarlettís sacrifice in saving her and little Beau during the siege of Atlanta and providing a home for them at Tara. She tells them that anyone who does not call on Scarlett need never call on her again either.

The older Atlanta people make good their threats and call on the Butlers only once. However, Scarlett has plenty of callers among the "new Atlantans," not that she cares a lot while she is attending to the building of her house. She has the walls covered in dark paper and plum curtains hung across the windows. The furniture is dark mahogany, overall creating a house of extravagant gloom. Rhett calls it a nightmare, saying it is exactly the type of house a privateer would build. They have numerous petty spats that never last long because Rhett simply states his opinion and walks away. He treats Mammy, however, with utmost deference, saying that she is the real head of the house. Mammy continues to behave coolly toward him, always addressing him as "Capín Butler."

Scarlett has her first party and invites everyone she knows, both friend and enemy. Rhett wars her that the "old guard" will not come. As it turns out, several of them actually plan to attend until they hear that she has invited Governor Bullock. The few who show up leave when the governor arrives. In spite of all the new people who stay, the party is ruined for Scarlett. The next morning, she goes to Melanie and accuses her of insulting her by leaving so early. Melanie reminds Scarlett that she is catering to the very people who have brought years of misery on the south. Nevertheless Melanie refuses to judge; she simply will not visit Scarlett when the Republicans, scalawags or governor are present.


For a time Scarlett struggles to feign in difference toward the attitudes of the old families, but eventually she genuinely stops caring. There are plenty of new families moving into Atlanta who are happy to attend and who, mistakenly, think of her as a means of entering the old southern society.

Notes

None needed.


CHAPTER 50

Summary

Scarlet has a baby girl with Rhett. When she first realizes she is pregnant, she wants to have an abortion via some method shared with her by Mamie Bart, the madam of a whorehouse. The idea alarms Rhett who immediately takes Scarlett in his arms and holds her as if he is afraid of losing her. He agrees that he didnít want children either, but he doesnít want her to die. The methods proposed by Mamie can result in a horrible death for the girl. He says she will have her baby if he has to chain her to his wrist for nine months.

Little Wade spends the day of his sisterís birth in terror. No one understands his fears or even knows about them, but he is genuinely afraid that his mother is dying. When the anxiety is over, Wade asks Rhett if he would have preferred to have a little boy. Rhett immediately understands the childís thoughts and tells him that he doesnít need a boy because he already has Wade. He waters down some wine and toasts the birth of the baby with the child.

After the baby is born, Rhett is so enchanted by her and behaves so gentlemanly himself that mammy reconsiders her opinion of him and even wears the red taffeta petty coat he had brought back from his honeymoon for her. Rhett is unexpectedly proud of his baby daughter and stops everyone he can to brag about her. Scarlett does not completely understand his attitude toward fatherhood, but he says it is because Bonnie Blue-a nickname accidentally contributed by Melanie-is the first person in his life who is entirely his. He tells her that she has two other children. Bonnie, whose real name is Euginie Victoria-is entirely his. Scarlett reminds him that she herself belongs to him, but that remark almost triggers an argument.

Notes

This chapter adds some depth to both Rhett and Mammy. We have seen Rhett holding little Wade as a baby, but now we see that he is quick to understand and alleviate childish worries. His reactions to both Wade and to his own baby daughter convince Mammy that she was mistaken. She is open minded and honest with both herself and others, so she is quick to forgive and forget if given a reason to do so. Mammy is one of the few people in the story-along with Melanie-who belongs to the old south, but does not behave with artificial polish. Yet, she has as much class as any of the whites; Rhett recognizes this and would rather have her good opinion than that of any of the Old Guard.


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