Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Gone with the Wind | Part 3, Chapter 25 | Summary

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Summary

Scarlett is facing the crisis head on, but many others at Tara are not. Gerald's mind has snapped; he believes Ellen in still alive. Others, like Pork, want to cling to the traditions and rules of the old days. He and Prissy don't want to work outside because they are house slaves, not yard slaves, and this distinction is important to them. Scarlett has no patience with any of them and strives to keep herself strong. But she cannot dismiss her grief when she sees the ruins of Ashley's family plantation, where she has gone in search of food. She collapses, sobbing, on the ground. After a time she pulls herself together and decides never to look back. She will find a way to survive. In one of the book's most famous moments, Scarlett swears she will get enough money so she will never be hungry again.

But in the meantime, life is very difficult. Everyone is hungry. Wade avoids Scarlett, who is always harsh with him; she feels bad about this but has no time for him or anyone else—she is too busy trying to keep everyone alive and hold on to Tara. Scarlett tries to force her sisters to help with chores, but they are weak and complain. Scarlett is frequently angry and ready to attack anyone who doesn't follow her commands. Secretly she is just as scared and lost as the others.

Analysis

Scarlett is now acting like a bully, as this chapter makes clear. Still she evokes sympathy, particularly as no one else in her life seems to understand just how much things must change.

Pork and Prissy as always ready to make excuses. One of their favorite excuses is they are house slaves who can't be expected to do outdoor work. Their status as house slaves matters to them because house slaves were considered better than yard slaves—better looking, smarter, easier to train—and they lived a better life. For Pork or Prissy, working outside would be as shocking as it would for Scarlett, Suellen, or Carreen. The difference is the O'Hara sisters wouldn't be punished for making a mistake in their work, but field slaves surely would.

The others also resist Scarlett's decrees because they are in denial. Rhett has commented before on Scarlett's practicality, and here she demonstrates it. She has her moment of grief, lying in the garden at the ruined Wilkes plantation, and then she rises from it, more determined than ever, and never looks back. She knows what she needs to do to survive, and she will do it.

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