Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Course Hero, "Gone with the Wind Study Guide," July 13, 2017, accessed December 14, 2017, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Gone-with-the-Wind/.

Gone with the Wind | Part 3, Chapters 21–22 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 21

The Confederates are fleeing Atlanta, the Yankees are coming, and Melanie is in labor. Unable to get anyone outside the house to help, Scarlett turns to Prissy. Prissy confesses she was just boasting earlier; she doesn't really know anything about birthing babies. Scarlett is on her own.

Chapter 22

Melanie survives an agonizing childbirth and delivers a healthy baby boy. Scarlett is exhausted and furious with Prissy, who was no help at all and even drops the baby after Scarlett delivers him. As Scarlett sits on the porch, trying to recover, she sees soldiers marching by and is reminded the Yankees are coming. She sends Prissy to try to find Rhett, hoping he can help them.

Analysis

Prissy can be infuriating. She is utterly useless at a time when Scarlett—and more importantly, Melanie—truly need help. She lies about being able to deliver the baby, and then she drops him! But Scarlett's reactions to Prissy are troubling because they reveal a racist strain hitherto concealed. Scarlett calls Prissy a "black liar" and slaps her, and the narration mentions Prissy's "kinky head." Scarlett—and Mitchell—connect Prissy's failings to her race: she does these things because she is African American. In this world African Americans are prone to bragging about things they never did; they are unable to think for themselves and need guidance from "wiser" white people.

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