Course Hero. "Gone with the Wind Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 July 2017. Web. 7 May 2021. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Gone-with-the-Wind/>.
Course Hero. (2017, July 13). Gone with the Wind Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved May 7, 2021, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Gone-with-the-Wind/
(Course Hero, 2017)
Course Hero. "Gone with the Wind Study Guide." July 13, 2017. Accessed May 7, 2021. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Gone-with-the-Wind/.
Course Hero, "Gone with the Wind Study Guide," July 13, 2017, accessed May 7, 2021, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Gone-with-the-Wind/.
Confederate soldiers often stop at Tara on their way home. One of them, Will Benteen, becomes a vital part of Tara. Will is a cracker, a lower-class white farmer who owned a limited number of slaves. He lost part of one leg in a battle, and his farm has been destroyed. He has nowhere to go, but he is gentle and responsible and makes a place for himself at Tara. Mammy calls him an answer to a prayer, and Scarlett seems to agree. He develops a good relationship with her, and she comes to depend on him. Meanwhile, he seems to be quietly falling in love with the still-grieving Carreen.
At the end of the chapter, Melanie and Scarlett and Will are talking on the porch when Ashley appears at the end of the drive. When Melanie races to meet him, Scarlett intends to be right behind her, but Will stops her. Will recognizes her feelings for Ashley; he doesn't judge her, but he wants to protect both her and Melanie.
Will really does seem like an answered prayer. He accepts everything—Scarlett's love for Ashley, Carreen's retreat from the world—and doesn't argue. He faces facts, just as Scarlett does, and he becomes a huge factor in Tara's survival.
At the same time, Will represents all the change Reconstruction has wrought. Before the war the O'Hara girls would scarcely acknowledge a man like Will. Now Scarlett hopes Carreen will marry him so he will stay at Tara; even though Carreen is not in love with Will, Scarlett feels her sister must do her duty to save Tara. Scarlett never thinks to marry Will herself, though she could.