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Free Study Guide - Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

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Scarlett steps outside to take a breather while all the family members wait for her to tell them what to do. She decides that she needs to put off the details until "tomorrow" and begins to walk the five blocks toward home. As she walks, the sensation of walking into a mist comes over her, and she recalls her dream. Suddenly she realizes that Rhett is the one in the mist whom she can never quite reach. She runs all the way home, intending to tell Rhett that he is the one she loves rather than Ashley.


The concept of the "mist" gives the story a supernatural element of Gothic romance. It is only by acknowledging the supernatural that this aspect of the story is believable. Perhaps the identity of the person in the mist is not so much Rhett as it is Scarlett's fully developed understanding of herself. In spite of what she says of herself, I believe she really did love Ashley at one time, but that as elements of the old world died within her, that love died also. He was part of another lifetime, which is over.

Even as her passion for Ashley was waning, it was developing for Rhett although Scarlett didn't pause in her busy life long enough to put her feelings for Rhett into words. Additionally, the two have never been able to get their vibes in sync. When Rhett most loved her, she was hateful and sarcastic. When she tried to be loving or gentle toward him, he was either drunk, angry, or too busy holding a grudge over some previous insult. Neither of them have ever looked at each other with clear vision at the same time.



Scarlett’s efforts at turning her love, finally, to Rhett are an utter failure. After she tells him how she loves him, he patiently explains that he has been in love with her since the day he saw her at Twelve Oaks, that no matter what he did, he never could get her out of his mind. However, he never could tell her because she took the love of people who cared for her and "held it over them like a whip." Nevertheless, he kept waiting and hoping until the weeks after her accident. He waited for her to call for him, but when she never did, he knew that it was over.

Finally he tells her that he is leaving and doesn’t care what she does. He will return often enough for decency’s sake since she doesn’t want a divorce. Scarlett tells herself that she will go back to Tara and that "tomorrow" she will find a way to get him back.


The end of the story is disappointing in that we want them to stay together now that Scarlett has realized that she loves him. It's hard to believe that his love for her could have died, in spite of everything that has happened. It seems that he might have left long ago were it not for the presence of Melanie and Mammy, and, of course, Bonnie. Now that the three people he regarded most highly in the entire world are gone, he has no motivation to stay with Scarlett.

We have to believe, however, that some day, beyond the limits of the story, he will come back. He has tried in the past to rid himself of thoughts of Scarlett and has never been successful. He will not be able to forget her and will ultimately return.

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