Literature Study GuidesGone With The WindPart 3 Chapters 19 20 Summary

Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Gone with the Wind | Part 3, Chapters 19–20 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 19

Scarlett, Melanie, Wade, and Prissy are trapped in Atlanta. Wade is frightened and clings to Scarlett, who only sees him as an annoyance. She worries what will happen when Melanie's baby comes, but Prissy assures Scarlett she can help with the birth. Losses pile up: Ashley's father is killed in battle, and Scarlett's sister Carreen has typhoid fever. Scarlett is so scared she even welcomes a visit from Rhett. Rhett insists the Yankees are not as bad as Scarlett fears, but he worries about Melanie's health. Eventually he tells Scarlett he is glad to find her alone, and he kisses her hand. Scarlett reacts powerfully to his kiss—more powerfully than she's ever reacted to another man. She thinks Rhett is going to propose, so she is offended when he suggests she become his mistress. She kicks him out; he laughs at her.

Chapter 20

The Yankees are close to Tara, but Scarlett can't leave Melanie. She gets a letter from home: both her sisters and her mother are gravely ill from typhoid. While Scarlett is wishing she could get home sooner, Melanie announces her labor pains have started. Melanie tells Scarlett not to send for a doctor yet because the soldiers need doctors urgently. But she is in pain, and she asks Scarlett to adopt the baby if she dies in childbirth. Scarlett dismisses Melanie's fear and sends Prissy to find an older woman who can help tend to Melanie until it's time to get a doctor.

Analysis

Rhett makes his first romantic move in these chapters, though he hasn't picked the best time. It's clear Scarlett is physically attracted to him. Rhett's kiss awakens unexpected reactions in her body. Scarlett is still very young and inexperienced, even though she is a widow.

But Rhett's proposition doesn't sit well with her. For Scarlett, becoming a mistress would be a huge social step down and would cut her off from her family and friends. When she kicks him out, Rhett is amused—a sign these two are very well suited to each other. Scarlett has always felt the need to conceal her true self to catch a man. But Rhett is fully aware of Scarlett's real, fiery self—it's what attracts him.

These chapters emphasize Scarlett's youth, for all she behaves as if she is a grown woman. She reacts to her son Wade as a sister might to a much younger brother. And she desperately wants to get home to be safe. When she learns her mother is ill, Scarlett is terrified; she begins to pray frantically, like a child trying to get out of trouble. She can't even sympathize with Melanie's labor pains; she is consumed by her own fears and problems.

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