Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Gone with the Wind | Part 4, Chapters 41–42 | Summary

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Summary

Chapter 41

Scarlett gives Gerald's watch to Pork as a thank-you gift, and Pork is overwhelmed by her generosity. Then she arranges a private meeting with Ashley and offers him a half interest in her sawmill. Will has told her Ashley intends to take Melanie and their son, Beau, to the North, so this is her scheme to keep Ashley near her.

Ashley refuses her offer. He tells her he is ashamed she has done so much for him and his family. Taking her charity has hurt his pride, and he doesn't want to do it anymore. Scarlett bursts into tears, and Melanie runs in to help her. Scarlett tells Melanie she needs Ashley's help, and Melanie indignantly criticizes Ashley for refusing. When Melanie realizes the family can move back to Atlanta if Ashley works for Scarlett, she is convinced it is the right thing to do. Ashley can't withstand the pressure from both Scarlett and Melanie, so he agrees to go to Atlanta and work at the mill. Scarlett is delighted, but Ashley looks shattered. Still, the family moves to Atlanta and gets a house near Aunt Pittypat's. Ashley's sister, India, moves in with them.

Melanie becomes the center of their social circle, leader of several committees, beloved by all. Scarlett and Frank often go to Ashley and Melanie's house at night, but Scarlett dislikes doing so because talk often turns to the war. She is also frustrated by her pregnancy, since it prevents her from visiting the mill to check in on things. Both her managers are overly polite, unworldly gentlemen, and Scarlett is losing money. Scarlett suggests hiring convicts for the mill, but Frank forbids it; Scarlett, startled by his display of backbone, agrees to his command.

Chapter 42

Scarlett has a baby girl, Ella. Ella's birth takes place at a time of high tension; the Klan has murdered an African American man who boasted of raping a white woman. Scarlett is grateful Ashley and Frank are not in the Klan; she believes Ashley has too much intelligence and Frank too little spirit.

Because tensions are high, Frank forbids Scarlett from going to the mill. This makes Scarlett furious. After she complains to Melanie, Melanie sends over someone to help: a gruff Confederate veteran named Archie who hates African Americans, Yankees, and women—except Melanie. Archie and Scarlett can't stand each other, but Archie helps her because Melanie asks him to, and Scarlett puts up with him because he can be her driver and bodyguard when she goes to the mill. Scarlett eventually learns Archie is an ex-convict who earned his freedom by agreeing to fight with the Confederate army. When Scarlett hires convicts to work in her mill, Archie refuses to drive with her any more. But even with convicts, Ashley can't make the mill a success.

Analysis

Here is yet more evidence Scarlett is essentially a spoiled child. Though Ashley tells her he will lose his soul by working for her in Atlanta, she still insists. She even manipulates Melanie into forcing Ashley's hand. Ashley is the one person who makes Scarlett think about anything other than dollars and cents; he is a terrible manager, but she wants him around, so she puts up with it. She thinks he just needs to learn the business, yet she is quick to dismiss other managers as incompetent or incapable.

Scarlett has always seen Frank as feeble and easily led, but he is beginning to demonstrate a certain independence. He forbids her from doing certain things, though she finds a way around his decrees. In Scarlett's eyes Frank is a fussy old man, but clearly he has reserves of capability and will: he has become quite wealthy twice over. Before the war he had several properties and a good amount of money, and since the war he has built himself back up through his store—and Scarlett's efforts. It's easy to dismiss Frank because Scarlett does, but he is much stronger than Charles, Scarlett's first husband. Frank is gentle and kind with her, so Scarlett takes him for granted, but she doesn't know him.

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