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Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Gone with the Wind | Part 1, Chapter 5 | Summary



Scarlett argues with Mammy about eating and about which dress to wear to the barbecue, but she gets her way. She complains about needing to act silly to "catch" a man, but Mammy tells her it is necessary and says she can be herself after she is married.

Gerald accompanies the girls to the barbecue, and Ellen stays home to deal with the fired overseer. The Tarleton ladies catch up to the group from Tara, and Gerald jokes and talks with Beatrice Tarleton, who has a large cotton plantation and the largest horse-breeding farm in Georgia. She clearly cares more about horses than people—she discusses everyone as if they were stallions and mares. Mrs. Tarleton spends considerable time talking about the Wilkes family and their tendency to marry their cousins, which "weakens the strain." She insists "the stamina has been bred out of them."


This chapter explores the idea of breeding or bloodlines, mostly courtesy of Beatrice Tarleton, a memorable character, though a relatively minor one. One of the novel's recurring themes is that some differences between people—insurmountable ones—are "in the blood." The Wilkes family is "different" due to their habit of marrying their cousins. Beatrice Tarleton describes the Wilkes clan as lacking in strength and stamina. Since readers already know about Scarlett's vitality and strength of will, it seems clear a marriage between Scarlett and Ashley would be difficult at best. Their differences are "in the blood."

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