Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Gone with the Wind | Part 4, Chapter 43 | Summary



Scarlett is sitting on the porch holding Ella when Rhett reappears. He explains his father has died and he has been helping his female relatives. They are ashamed of him, but they still take his money, albeit secretly.

Rhett has an argument with Scarlett. He points out he lent her money to buy her first sawmill under one condition: she would not use it to help Ashley. Now, however, Ashley is benefiting from the mill. Scarlett tries to argue with him, but Rhett insists she has broken her word and says he won't lend her money again. He says Ashley is being "winnowed out" by the new world in which they live—an opinion not that different from Ashley's statements about himself.

Rhett also indicates Scarlett has jettisoned some of her finer principles for the sake of making money. For example, she "put that little plug-ugly, Gallegher, in charge" to work people "to death." Scarlett says she had no choice; when things are better, she insists, she will be a great, kind lady like her mother. Rhett warns things may not work out the way she expects. Before he leaves, he asks her to tell Frank to stay home more often at night. Scarlett does not understand what Rhett means.


Rhett and Scarlett's conversation offers a lot of information about both characters. Scarlett has strayed so far from goodness even Rhett can't follow her.

Rhett doesn't express outright disapproval of most of Scarlett's questionable choices, but he is also cold-bloodedly precise in naming them, from murder to stealing her sister's fiancé. He won't pretend Scarlett hasn't done scandalous or unethical things, but he also appreciates her determination to survive. His compliments remind Scarlett of who she originally wanted to be: a "great lady" like her mother. She insists she will be kind and generous when she has enough money, but Rhett doesn't believe it.

Many of the stalwarts of the Confederacy reject Rhett, but he admires some of them. He recognizes some people make a success in this new world while still maintaining dignity and virtues he and Scarlett have jettisoned. On the other hand, Rhett has no patience for Ashley; he thinks Ashley should have died in the war to spare himself and his family so much suffering. More than any other character in the book, Rhett is a realist; this puts him at odds with a society that values the appearance of politeness and gentility, even after their catastrophic loss of the Civil War.

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