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Gone with the Wind | Study Guide

Margaret Mitchell

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Gone with the Wind | Quotes


To anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them the land they live on is like their mother.

Gerald O'Hara, Part 1, Chapter 3

Gerald makes this comment early in the novel, when Scarlett is too young and foolish to understand or care about it. Only later, when she becomes responsible for Tara, do his words resonate with her. Then she becomes determined to do whatever it takes to protect the plantation.


Men willingly gave ladies everything in the world except credit for having intelligence.

Narrator, Part 2, Chapter 8

Mitchell repeatedly asserts women are capable of more than society permits in Scarlett's time. She and Melanie are both intelligent in different ways, but both defer to men on certain issues considered men's territory.


Money ... made out of the wreckage of a civilization as from the upbuilding of one. [Add "to be"]

Rhett Butler, Part 2, Chapter 9

Rhett, like Scarlett, is practical and determined to make money. He professes to have no qualms about making a fortune from the South's postwar collapse, though eventually he demonstrates he has more of a conscience than Scarlett does.


I won't think of this or that bothersome thought now. I'll think about it tomorrow.

Scarlett O'Hara, Part 2, Chapter 11

Scarlett wills herself to put thoughts out of her mind when she's not ready to face them; it's her coping mechanism. In part this reflects her selfish, childlike nature, but it also reflects her tremendous instinct for self-preservation, which helps her survive the Civil War and its aftermath.


As God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again.

Scarlett O'Hara, Part 3, Chapter 25

Scarlett makes this promise to herself shortly after she returns to Tara at the end of the Civil War. These words drive much of her behavior in the rest of the novel. Her fear of being hungry again, and of losing Tara, leads her to steal her sister's fiancé, to use unethical business practices, and do anything else it takes to survive and thrive.


It's a very bad thing for a woman to face the worst that can happen to her.

Grandma Fontaine, Part 3, Chapter 26

Grandma Fontaine warns Scarlett about becoming hardened by suffering and loss. Scarlett doesn't listen to her. She becomes hardened and is cruel to those around her for several years—until it is too late to repair many of her relationships.


Any fool can be brave on a battlefield when it's be brave or else be killed.

Ashley Wilkes, Part 4, Chapter 31

After the war, Ashley must face his own failings. He talks about them frankly with Scarlett and tries to convince her his actions during the war were neither heroic nor admirable.


Folks whose mainsprings are busted are better dead.

Will Benteen, Part 4, Chapter 40

When speaking at Gerald O'Hara's funeral, Will says Gerald's "mainspring was busted" when his wife, Ellen, died. The mainspring is the central mechanism in a watch; a watch cannot run without its mainspring. This metaphor fits not only Gerald but also other characters who suffer significant losses in the novel.


You ain't nuthin' but a mule in hawse harness.

Mammy, Part 4, Chapter 47

Mammy's succinct description captures part of what is wrong with Scarlett and Rhett: they dress the part of high-class people, but they do not behave in a high-class way and their true natures will always appear.


He either wanted something very badly and didn't have it, or never had wanted anything.

Narrator, Part 5, Chapter 49

Scarlett finds Rhett a maddening, intriguing enigma; she is convinced he is impossible to hint. In fact, as hinted here, he wants her love very badly, but doesn't have it. He may think he never wants anything, but he is fooling himself—and Scarlett too, for the moment.


Burdens are for shoulders strong enough to carry them.

Scarlett O'Hara, Part 5, Chapter 61

Scarlett repeatedly assumes burdens that would destroy other people. Here she is reminding herself she is stronger than Ashley and will need to help him survive Melanie's death, even as she is grieving for Melanie herself.


I loved something I made up ... And I wouldn't see what he really was.

Scarlett O'Hara, Part 5, Chapter 61

As both her father and Rhett told her years earlier, Scarlett never saw Ashley for who he really was. Now she finally does. All this time she thought she loved him, but when she removes her blinders, she doesn't even particularly like him.


Had she ever understood Rhett, she would never have lost him.

Narrator, Part 5, Chapter 63

Scarlett understands very little about anyone because she is so self-absorbed. She is particularly frustrated by her inability to understand Ashley or Rhett. But in the novel's final moments she finally recognizes how little she is like Ashley and how much she is like Rhett. Had she seen that earlier, she and Rhett might have been able to save their marriage.


My dear, I don't give a damn.

Rhett Butler, Part 5, Chapter 63

Rhett's famous final response to Scarlett perfectly captures his feelings toward her. He is utterly depleted; he no longer cares what she does or where she goes, and his unsparing language makes that clear. In the novel's era most men would never say "damn" in front of a woman without apologizing, but Rhett and Scarlett never minced words, and Rhett isn't about to start now. The openness of his tone makes the quotation famous and often cited.


There had never been a man she couldn't get, once she set her mind upon him.

Narrator, Part 5, Chapter 63

Frequently a novel's main character transforms during the story—not Scarlett. Mitchell makes it clear she hasn't changed at all. She only pays attention to her own desires and never gives up on getting what she wants.

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