Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Gone with the Wind | Part 5, Chapter 59 | Summary



Bonnie is spoiled; Rhett will allow her to have anything and do anything. She won't listen to anyone else, even Scarlett. Bonnie's blue eyes look much like those of Scarlett's father, Gerald; she has his set jaw and determined temper too. Rhett gets her a pony to ride and starts to teach her to jump fences, but she insists on having higher and higher fences. One day she shouts to Scarlett to watch her take a jump. As Scarlett and Rhett look on, she is thrown from her horse and killed—just like Gerald.

The night before Bonnie's funeral, Mammy comes to Melanie's house to ask for help. Because Scarlett told Rhett he is responsible for Bonnie's death, the two are barely speaking to each other. Rhett has lost touch with reality; he keeps Bonnie's body in a room brightly lit with candles because she was afraid of the dark, and he refuses to let her be buried. Mammy asks Melanie to talk to him and persuade him to allow the funeral to take place.


Bonnie's death is a tragedy. It has the potential to bring Scarlett and Rhett together, but instead it drives them farther apart.

Rhett does bear some responsibility for his daughter's death. To ensure her love, he never reprimanded her and always gave her everything she wanted. A four-year-old child jumping a horse over fences is greatly dangerous, but Bonnie, like her grandfather before her, was determined. It is an eerie, horrible moment when Scarlett flashes back to her father's jumps and screams for Bonnie to stop. Scarlett loved Bonnie, perhaps more than she ever loved Wade and Ella, and she grieves for her child. Still, her accusatory comments to Rhett are outrageous even for her.

But as Mammy points out, Scarlett has survived everything the world could throw at her. She hasn't been nice or gentle about it, but she has survived, and even if her heart is breaking for Bonnie, she will survive now. Rhett, on the other hand, "ain' never had ter stan' nuthin' he din' wanter stan'," as Mammy says. He has brought on most of his own suffering: bad behavior got him kicked out of his parents' home, his rebellious attitude led respectable people to reject him in Atlanta, and even his dark time in the army happened because he chose to enlist. Rhett always gets what he deserves, more or less. But he doesn't deserve to lose Bonnie, and it just about breaks him.

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