header logo
Gone with the Wind

Gone with the Wind Summary


Here you will find a Gone with the Wind summary (Margaret Mitchell's book).
We begin with a summary of the entire book, and then you can read each individual chapter's summary by visiting the links on the "Chapters" section.

P.S.: As an Amazon Associate, we earn money from purchases made through links in this page. But the summaries are totally free!

Last Updated: Monday 1 Jan, 2024

Gone with the Wind Summary Overview

In the spring of 1861, the strikingly beautiful Southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, resides in Tara, a grand plantation in Georgia. Her main concerns are her multitude of admirers and her ambition to wed Ashley Wilkes. However, when she learns of Ashley's engagement to his unattractive and weak cousin, Melanie Hamilton, she is devastated. At a local gathering, a heartbroken Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley who admits his love, but insists on marrying Melanie due to their similarities. This prompts a frustrated Scarlett to slap him, only to realize that a notorious charmer, Rhett Butler, has witnessed the entire incident, applauding her for her unladylike behavior. As the Civil War commences, Melanie’s timid brother, Charles Hamilton, proposes to Scarlett. Out of spite and to wound Ashley, she accepts his proposal. However, the subsequent events unfold rapidly: Scarlett and Charles wed, Charles enlists in the army and dies of measles, and Scarlett discovers she's pregnant. Post childbirth, a discontent Scarlett travels to Atlanta to visit Melanie and her aunt Pittypat. With scarcity of food and clothing due to the ongoing war, her concerns increase for Ashley's safety, who is eventually captured and sent to prison. Despite her desire to return to Tara, Scarlett stays back to care for the pregnant Melanie. Amidst the chaos of the war and the burning of Atlanta by the Yankees, Melanie gives birth to Beau. Rhett assists Scarlett and Melanie in their escape through the ravaged city, but leaves them midway to join the Confederate Army. Scarlett perseveres through a perilous journey, finally reaching Tara, only to find her mother dead, her father demented, and the plantation pillaged. Frustrated yet determined, she takes control and rebuilds Tara, vowing to never go hungry again. As the war concludes, Ashley returns and Scarlett, in her desperate attempt to save Tara from being seized due to high taxes, seduces and marries her sister's beau, Frank Kennedy. Despite facing numerous challenges, including a violent attack and her husband's subsequent death, Scarlett becomes a shrewd businesswoman. Her tumultuous marriage to Rhett and their deteriorating relationship is further complicated by the tragic death of their daughter Bonnie. As Scarlett battles grief, loneliness and the realization of her true love for Rhett, she decides to return to Tara hoping to find solace and regain her strength.

chapter 1

Scarlett O’Hara, a sixteen-year-old, enjoys her time on the porch of Tara, her dad’s northern Georgia plantation, during spring of 1861. Engaging in flirtations with Brent and Stuart Tarleton, the young twins, they animatedly talk about the possibility of a war between the North and South. However, Scarlett shifts the conversation towards the upcoming barbecue and dance at Twelve Oaks plantation. The twins reveal that Ashley Wilkes, the offspring of the Twelve Oaks owner, plans to reveal his engagement to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton, at the dance. Scarlett desires Ashley for herself and struggles to hide her feelings. The twins depart, puzzled by Scarlett's uncharacteristic quietness.

chapter 2

Scarlett, upset by Ashley's engagement, eagerly awaits her father's return from Twelve Oaks. Her father, Gerald O'Hara, comes into sight, riding hard and leaping a fence. Scarlett gently scolds him for breaking a promise to her mother, Ellen, but promises to keep this a secret. Upon her prodding, Gerald affirms Ashley's engagement to Melanie and sternly advises Scarlett against such a match. He criticizes the Wilkes family's fascination with the arts and believes Ashley, while competent in traditional masculine activities, lacks passion for them. As Scarlett and Gerald reach the porch, they meet Ellen who is hurrying to baptize Emmie Slattery's critically ill newborn. Mammy, Ellen's lifelong servant, disapproves of assisting Emmie, a single mother from a "white trash" family living near the O’Hara estate.

chapter 3

Scarlett reflects on her mother’s refined demeanor, a stark contrast to her own impulsive nature. This fiery temperament was inherited from her father, Gerald, a man who escaped his mundane existence in Ireland following a fatal feud. Gerald secured his first slave, Pork, along with his plantation through a poker game. Despite not having a refined upbringing, Gerald's kindness won the community over. His wife, Ellen, from the distinguished Robillard family in Savannah, consented to marry him after losing her first love, Philippe, her cousin. She held her family responsible for Philippe's departure from Savannah, and out of resentment, she chose to marry Gerald, who was socially beneath her. Scarlett, the eldest and most defiant of the O’Hara daughters, lacks physical beauty. However, she has adopted the manners of a lady from Ellen and Mammy and utilized her charm making her the most sought-after girl in the area.

chapter 4

On the same day, Gerald buys a slave called Dilcey from Twelve Oaks, reuniting her with her spouse, Pork. During dinner, Dilcey expresses her gratitude to Gerald by offering her daughter, Prissy, to serve as Scarlett's personal attendant. Ellen gets back late after visiting the Slattery's residence. While joining in the evening prayer led by Ellen, Scarlett hatches a scheme to snatch Ashley from Melanie. She decides to confess her love for Ashley at the upcoming barbecue, hoping he will elope with her once he learns of her genuine feelings. Scarlett catches Ellen discussing with Gerald about letting go of Jonas Wilkerson, Tara’s Yankee supervisor. She comes to understand that Wilkerson fathered the late Emmie Slattery’s child.

chapter 5

Scarlett prepares for the Wilkes's gathering by donning a dress to accentuate her slim waist. To avoid eating too much at the event, her maid Mammy convinces her to have a meal beforehand. Scarlett's mother, Ellen, misses the barbecue as she must settle accounts with Jonas Wilkerson before his departure from Tara. The O'Haras cross paths with the Tarleton women en route, where Gerald and the spirited Mrs. Tarleton discuss horses and potential war. Scarlett, preoccupied with thoughts of running away with Ashley, pays little mind to their conversation or even the news of Ashley's impending engagement.

chapter 6

Twelve Oaks is filled with the most distinguished families from the county. Scarlett finds herself captivated yet appalled by a tall, audacious man who bears her gaze without deference. His name is Rhett Butler, a man of immoral reputation belonging to an aristocratic lineage from Charleston, South Carolina. Rhett, notorious for his scandal with a girl he escorted unchaperoned and then refused to wed, fatally won a duel against her outraged brother. At the gathering, Scarlett is the centre of attention, surrounded by suitors including Charles Hamilton. Charles, a timid man and brother to Melanie, directs his affection toward Scarlett, despite being in a relationship with Honey Wilkes. Nevertheless, Scarlett only has eyes for Ashley, unaware of her admirers. Amidst discussions of war, men, both young and old, boast of their imminent victory against the Yankees. Rhett dismisses their confidence, pointing out the South's lack of military resources and predicting an easy win for the Yankees, before excusing himself from the offended crowd. After the ladies retire for their afternoon rest, Scarlett seizes the chance to confront Ashley, revealing her love for him. She is devastated to learn of his intention to wed Melanie and is told they could never be a good match. In a fit of hurt pride, Scarlett physically lashes out at him. After Ashley's exit, Rhett, who has been quietly observing from a sofa, mockingly comments on Scarlett's unladylike behavior. Feeling embarrassed and angry, Scarlett leaves with as much dignity as she can muster. Upstairs, she overhears Honey accusing her of being improper to Melanie, who in turn, defends Scarlett. The news of Lincoln's call for troops, marking the start of the Civil War, reaches them as Scarlett descends the stairs. Upon being proposed to again by Charles, she seizes the chance to spite both Ashley and Honey, and to restore her dignity, by accepting his proposal.

chapter 7

Time flies by as Scarlett and Charles tie the knot, merely a day prior to Melanie and Ashley's nuptials. Soon after, the men depart for the warfronts. Tragically, Charles succumbs to measles, merely two months post their marriage. Scarlett becomes a mother to a baby boy, whom she christens Wade Hampton Hamilton, in honor of Charles's commanding officer. The mundane life of a widow and a mother doesn't sit well with Scarlett. She despises the widespread fervor for the war. She also holds a grudge against Ashley's marital status. Seeking a change, she decides to visit Atlanta to stay with Melanie and her Aunt Pittypat.

chapter 8

In the spring of 1862, Scarlett, Prissy, and Wade travel to Atlanta to meet Melanie and Aunt Pittypat. The city has transformed into a military center due to the war, boasting army offices, hospitals, and metalworking factories. When they reach the Hamilton home on Peachtree Street, Pittypat and Melanie warmly welcome Scarlett. Scarlett speaks to Uncle Henry, Pittypat's brother, about Charles's wealth, which she's now inherited. The lively atmosphere of Atlanta reenergizes Scarlett. However, she dislikes her obligation to help nurse wounded soldiers in the crowded hospitals, as the men are often sweaty and smell of gangrene.

chapter 9

Scarlett, a widow in mourning, is expected to avoid the hospital's charity bazaar but feels it's not fair since she's worked hard in its preparation. Unexpectedly, she and Melanie are required to run a booth. At the event, Scarlett realizes she doesn't share the same patriotic sentiment expressed in speeches about the Confederate cause. Her yearning to dance is interrupted by Rhett Butler, a renowned blockade-runner for the South, who jests about her marriage to Charles. During a donation round, Scarlett gets rid of her despised wedding ring. Melanie, misunderstanding Scarlett's gesture, also throws her wedding ring into the basket. In a shocking move to raise funds for the hospital, Dr. Meade suggests that men bid for a dance with a lady. As a widow, Scarlett is not supposed to dance, but when Rhett offers a hundred and fifty dollars in gold to dance with her, she defies tradition and rushes to the dance floor. Rhett confesses his admiration for her beauty and spirit, adding that he knows she's as bored with the Cause as he is. Scarlett feigns anger, but inside, she knows he's right.

chapter 10

The following day, Atlanta is filled with whispers about Scarlett's scandalous conduct. Pittypat expresses her disdain for Rhett but becomes forgiving when he returns a gift: Melanie's wedding ring that he had purchased. Gerald, Scarlett’s father, shows up to rebuke Rhett and intends to return Scarlett to Tara in shame. However, he emerges in the wee hours, inebriated and broke from gambling. When daylight breaks, Scarlett convinces him to let her remain in Atlanta, in exchange for her silence about his reckless behavior. He consents.

chapter 11

Scarlett covertly enters Melanie's room the next week and looks over a letter Ashley sent her. Even though Ashley voices his concerns about the war in his letter, Scarlett doesn't focus on the depth of his thoughts. Her relief comes from the fact that the letter doesn't contain words of romance for Melanie. With the assurance that Ashley's love for her has not waned, Scarlett puts the letter away.

chapter 12

The conflict continues with supplies becoming tougher to obtain due to port blockades. Rhett, a notorious Confederate blockade-runner, gains popularity in spite of his disregard for societal norms, by smuggling Southern goods to exchange for necessities. He often visits Scarlett, who stops pretending to mourn Charles's death, relishing her lively social life amid the war. Rhett eventually begins to openly criticize Confederate idealism, stating he's driven by self-profit, not the Southern cause. During a party, he shocks everyone by asserting that the war is a matter of money, not honor or rights. On the way home, Melanie defends Rhett, revealing that Ashley has expressed similar sentiments in his letters. This information, that her admired Ashley and Rhett share the same views on the war, bewilders Scarlett.

chapter 13

Rhett remains a figure of scorn in Atlanta, barred by all but the Hamilton's. Despite the societal disapproval, he keeps visiting Scarlett, gifting her a stylish Parisian hat to replace her obligatory mourning veil. Melanie makes a surprising revelation to Scarlett one day - Belle Watling, a known lady of the night, had donated a sizable amount to the hospital. Melanie displays the handkerchief used to wrap the money, marked with Rhett's initials. The realization of Rhett's association with a woman of Belle's profession leaves Scarlett aghast, causing her to toss the handkerchief into the fire.

chapter 14

Despite the hardships of food scarcity, fatalities, sickness, and destitution, the community clings to hope. Rumors grow that the impending conflict at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania might end the war, as the Confederacy scores significant victories. As the fight commences, word of numerous losses slowly reach Atlanta. A swarm of women assemble outside the newspaper office, anxiously awaiting the lists of casualties. Melanie, Scarlett, and Pittypat discover that Ashley is alive, but the grim reality is that nearly every Atlanta family is mourning the loss of a kin in the war. The Tarleton brothers, Stuart and Brent, have been killed.

chapter 15

The Confederates are defeated in Gettysburg. During Christmas, Ashley briefly returns home. Scarlett is thrilled but craves some alone time with him. Eventually, she manages a private moment just before his departure. Ashley requests Scarlett to care for Melanie in case of his death. Scarlett readily accepts and then passionately kisses him. Ashley reciprocates but abruptly pulls back when Scarlett declares her love. Distressed, he quickly departs to catch his train.

chapter 16

In the early part of 1864, the Confederate army is losing its hold, leading to Atlanta's harsh winter and scarcity of food. Rhett is despised by Atlanta's people for being an opportunistic food trader. Scarlett is hit hard with two distressing pieces of information: Ashley has been captured and Melanie is with child. Rhett reveals to Scarlett that Ashley could have secured his release by betraying the Confederacy, but he did not. When Scarlett questions why Ashley would deny such a chance, Rhett, who asserts he would have taken it, retorts scornfully that Ashley is too much of a gentleman.

chapter 17

As of May 1864, the Yankee army under General Sherman has advanced into Georgia, approaching Atlanta. Dr. Meade is infuriated by Rhett's assertion that the Confederacy is incapable of repelling the Yankees. Nevertheless, the citizens of Atlanta maintain their faith in the Confederate cause. As the war draws nearer, countless wounded soldiers are transported into the city by train. Overwhelmed by her duties at the hospital, Scarlett slips away and bumps into Rhett, who appears unaffected by the wartime shortages. He escorts her back to Peachtree Street, and during their journey, they witness a group of slaves marching. Among them, Scarlett spots Big Sam, her former foreman at Tara. He proudly shares that the slaves are digging trenches as hiding places for the citizens when the Yankees invade. However, Scarlett is aware that the trenches are actually being dug for the Confederacy's defense against the Yankees. Rhett continues to tease Scarlett, suggesting that she secretly desires his affections. He insists his restraint is due to her immature infatuation with Ashley. Scarlett's frustration peaks, forcing Rhett to halt the carriage and allow her to disembark.

chapter 18

Atlanta faces attack, prompting even the elderly and children to participate in the defense. Ashley’s aged father, John Wilkes, enlists in the militia, while Gerald stays behind due to a knee injury. As the invading Yankees outnumber the Confederates, wounded soldiers flood the city, sprawling on gardens and filling homes. Atlanta's residents, gripped by fear, start to evacuate, including Pittypat who escapes to Macon. Scarlett yearns to return to Tara, but is restrained by Melanie's pregnancy which prevents her from moving. Unfamiliar with childbirth, Scarlett relies on Prissy who claims experience in assisting deliveries.

chapter 19

All railway connections to Atlanta, except one, are cut off by the Yankees. The city is under relentless artillery attack. Amidst all this, Scarlett is in a state of panic while Melanie is unwell in bed. A brief visit from Uncle Henry brings the tragic news of John Wilkes' demise. Rhett stumbles upon a teary-eyed Scarlett on her porch. He confesses his fondness for her, but denies being in love. He then proposes that she become his mistress, a suggestion that infuriates Scarlett and sends her storming off to her room.

chapter 20

After a month-long siege, calm descends. The Northern forces aim to seize the Jonesboro rail line, dangerously close to Tara. Scarlett is filled with fear upon receiving a letter from Gerald informing her of Ellen and her sisters' affliction with typhoid fever. By September's onset, Scarlett is uncertain about her family's survival or if the Yankees have reached Tara. She yearns to return home, yet is committed to her promise to Ashley not to abandon Melanie. Melanie reveals to Scarlett that she will give birth soon and makes her swear to care for the baby if she passes away.

chapter 21

As the Confederate army retreats south, leaving Atlanta to the Yankees, Scarlett searches for Dr. Meade at the depot, stumbling upon a slew of dead and injured soldiers. Unable to peel Dr. Meade away from tending to the wounded and with the city under evacuation, Scarlett is left to handle Melanie's labor herself. It is revealed that Prissy, the slave, had falsely claimed she knew how to assist with childbirth. In a fit of panic, Scarlett slaps Prissy, marking the first time she has struck a slave. She must now scramble to assist Melanie on her own.

chapter 22

Melanie endures an arduous childbirth, resulting in a baby boy. With Atlanta almost empty, Scarlett instructs Prissy to locate Rhett, seeking his assistance in their flight to Tara.

chapter 23

Rhett's horse and vehicle are seized by Confederate soldiers but he manages to escape with the women, Wade, and the baby using a stolen horse and cart. Atlanta's foundries and storehouses are set on fire by the retreating Confederate army to prevent Yankees from plundering them. Throughout the fiery chaos, Scarlett is extremely grateful for Rhett's protection. Eventually, they escape Atlanta and Scarlett insists on going to Tara. Rhett claims it's a deadly idea due to the Yankee-filled woods around Tara. Rhett shocks Scarlett by revealing his plan to leave her and join the Confederate army. After delivering a passionate kiss to Scarlett, which evokes strange emotions, he leaves despite her slapped protest, leaving Scarlett in charge of the horse and cart.

chapter 24

Scarlett wakes up hurting after a night's travel and rest in the forest. Melanie is in a dire state, and Scarlett forces their frail horse to continue. Yearning for her mother and home, they come across Tara, which unlike surrounding estates, is undamaged. Gerald informs Scarlett of Ellen's death just a day before. Her sisters are ill with typhoid and Gerald is not capable of handling the situation, leaving Scarlett to step in. Gerald reveals that Yankees took over Tara and looted all food supplies. Dilcey has a newborn, and she's nursing Melanie's baby. Mammy is dispirited and lacking confidence in Ellen's absence, and Dilcey reports that the Yankees destroyed all the cotton. Ellen died whispering “Philippe." Scarlett, consumed by despair, takes a swig of whiskey. She reflects on her family's resilient past, drawing strength from their victories amidst adversity. This reflection allows her to drift into a restful, inebriated slumber.

chapter 25

Scarlett arises with a pounding headache, coming to terms with her father, Gerald's, dementia as he fails to acknowledge Ellen's death. She travels to Twelve Oaks, scavenging for turnips and cabbages. Surveying the ruin of the once-splendid estate, she decides to focus on the future, promising herself, "I’m never going to be hungry again." The war slowly becomes a distant memory as Scarlett throws herself into the tasks of feeding Tara's household, nursing the three ill girls, and striving to keep everything together. The immense pressure hardens Scarlett, making her terse and sharp-tongued. Yet, she draws power from her deep ties to Tara and her determination to keep its lands.

chapter 26

One day, a Union soldier enters Tara, seeking to steal. Scarlett reacts by killing him with Charles's pistol, a sight that earns her Melanie's admiration when the latter sees her with Charles's sword. They find money on the soldier which, though startled by the act of murder, Scarlett feels was justified in defense of Tara. The monetary addition and new horse make her day. Scarlett then goes to the neighboring Fontaine estate, where the ladies are willing to share their scant supplies. She confides in Old Miss Fontaine, who cautions Scarlett against becoming too hard-hearted and encourages her to keep some fears. She shares her past experience of picking cotton to support her father, saying it didn't lessen her dignity. Scarlett, however, feels it's a lowly "slave work" as she undertakes it upon her return to Tara. Only Dilcey assists her, while Mammy and Pork, house workers, refuse to fulfill the role of field workers. Melanie is still too frail to work. However, Scarlett feels they've surmounted the worst with their newfound food, cash, and horse.

chapter 27

In November, the family discovers that the Union forces are on their way to Tara once more. Fearful of losing their home and provisions, Scarlett hides everyone and everything in the swamp. Melanie's infant stays with her. Determined to protect Tara, Scarlett confronts the Union soldiers at her front door. A horde of soldiers invade, pillaging and destroying everything they don't take. One tries to claim Wade's inherited grandfather's sword, but Scarlett convinces the Union sergeant to intervene. Angered, the soldier sets the kitchen alight as the others leave. With significant exertion, Scarlett and Melanie manage to extinguish the fire. Once again, Scarlett's disdain for Melanie shifts to reluctant respect.

chapter 28

During the festive season, Frank Kennedy, accompanied by some Confederate soldiers, drops by Tara seeking provisions for the troops. He informs Scarlett and Melanie about General Sherman's total destruction of Atlanta, with the exception of Aunt Pittypat’s residence. With the war coming to an end, Frank finally proposes to Scarlett’s sister, Suellen, after a prolonged courtship, revealing this news to Scarlett.

chapter 29

By the time April comes around, the conflict has reached its conclusion. Scarlett, more at ease than disheartened, starts organizing the planting of next year’s cotton crop. The previously dangerous roadways are secure again, and the local community rallies together to support each other in recovery and rebuilding.

chapter 30

Worn-out Confederate soldiers start to make their way through Tara, and despite her hesitations, Scarlett provides them refuge, sharing her home and meals. Among them, a Georgian soldier named Will Benteen, now with a wooden leg, decides to stay and assist with the plantation work. His unassuming competence becomes a blessing for Tara. He develops feelings for Scarlett’s sister Carreen but her preoccupation with prayer books and fond memories of Brent Tarleton, make her oblivious to his affection. One day, Uncle Peter, a slave, arrives with a letter from Ashley stating he survived and is on his way home from Illinois. After several tense weeks, Ashley returns. Melanie rushes to greet him, and as Scarlett attempts to follow, Will holds her back. He subtly reminds her that Ashley is Melanie's husband.

chapter 31

Those with intelligence and bravery persevere while those lacking fall away. Will comes back from Jonesboro with distressing news: the taxes on Tara have been hiked by the Scalawags and carpetbaggers. Scarlett, unable to pay, seeks advice from Ashley. He confesses he can't assist her, as he's struggling with facing harsh reality and yearns for the old days of the South. Scarlett confesses her enduring love for Ashley and impulsively suggests they run away together. They share a fervent kiss, and Ashley confesses his love for Scarlett but refuses to leave Melanie for the sake of his honor. He places some red clay from Tara in Scarlett's hands, indicating he knows her love for Tara surpasses her love for him. Scarlett, recalling her deep affection for Tara, returns home, promising herself to never pursue Ashley again.

chapter 32

The once Tara overseer, Jonas Wilkerson, now an employee of the Freedmen’s Bureau, and Emmie Slattery turn up at Tara in flashy attire. Wilkerson declares his plan to purchase Tara for Emmie, leading Scarlett to grasp his hand in hiking up the property taxes to oust the O’Haras. In fury, she admonishes the interlopers and commands them to exit. Wilkerson sarcastically remarks on Scarlett's fallen status before she spits at him, watching as he departs in his lavish carriage. Finding herself in a tight spot, Scarlett's mind shifts to Atlanta, with a plan to wed Rhett Butler. Though the idea of being Rhett's wife disgusts her, his rumored treasure, allegedly embezzled from the Confederate treasury, is too appealing to ignore. Unfortunately, she can't charm Rhett looking shabby and penniless. With no cash for a fancy gown, she opts to craft one from Ellen’s luxurious green velvet curtains. She is willing to propose to become Rhett’s mistress to rescue Tara if he rejects her marriage proposal. Mammy consents to assist in creating the dress, with the stipulation that Scarlett permits her to play the role of a chaperone.

chapter 33

Scarlett and Mammy discover a nearly unrecognizable Atlanta, ravaged by flames. The city is now swarming with Yankee soldiers in blue uniforms and emancipated slaves. At Aunt Pittypat's residence, Scarlett learns about the predicament of almost all of Atlanta's distinguished families. Rhett Butler is now in prison, accused of murdering a black man for disrespecting a white woman. Scarlett is in such shock that she barely notices when Aunt Pittypat inquires about the presence of the newly established Ku Klux Klan near Tara.

chapter 34

Scarlett makes a trip to Rhett in jail the next day, where she feigns prosperity and attempts to charm him. She's almost successful, but Rhett sees the hardened skin on her overworked palms and discerns her real motive for her visit. He declines her straightforward proposition to become his lover, informing her that even if he wished to provide her with money, it would be seized by the Yankees who would trace his financial transactions. Rhett taunts her by suggesting she could witness his execution, leaving her overwhelmed with humiliation and resentment.

chapter 35

Leaving Rhett's prison cell, Scarlett bumps into Frank Kennedy, who is riding in a brand new carriage. Frank reveals that he's now a shop owner and is considering investing in a sawmill - a move that would be financially rewarding due to Atlanta's extensive need for reconstruction. Despite Frank's betrothal to Suellen, Scarlett decides that, in order to cover Tara's taxes, she needs to wed Frank. She misleads Frank by telling him that Suellen is engaged to another man. Scarlett comes to understand that, unlike most refined Southerners, she values wealth over honor.

chapter 36

The notion of a woman being capable, possibly superior, in business dealings was a new and startling concept... Scarlett, two weeks after her marriage to Frank, dismisses her sister’s unhappiness and the spiteful chatter of the locals. She persuades Frank into more lucrative business choices and quells any guilt by postponing any worries. When Frank falls sick, Scarlett uses the opportunity to manage the store, discovering his poor handling of the business - his friends owe him large amounts of money he's too shy to collect. Scarlett believes she's capable of operating the business better and starts to consider buying a sawmill. Rhett, who'd gotten out of jail through blackmail, enters the store and commends Scarlett on her marriage. He taunts her about her lingering love for Ashley, then offers her the money to purchase the sawmill on the condition it isn't used to aid Ashley. Frank is dismayed as Scarlett evolves into an unyielding businesswoman, focusing on the mill and ensuring a hefty profit by any means necessary. As the sole businesswoman in Atlanta, her actions elicit disapproval from others. Frank, feeling humiliated and fearful of his wife, holds onto the hope that a baby might distract her from her business pursuits.

chapter 37

Tony Fontaine, a local planter's son, turns up in a state of distress having killed Jonas Wilkerson and a freed slave. He recounts that Wilkerson was inciting freed slaves with the notion that they could assault white women, with one such slave making an offensive remark to Tony's sister-in-law. Tony's accomplice in his revenge act, Ashley, had suggested seeking Scarlett and Frank's assistance. After Tony's departure, Scarlett contemplates on the increasing danger in the South. She's afraid of losing everything to the dominant Yankee government and liberated slaves. In response, she focuses on amassing wealth as her only safeguard. She informs Frank about her pregnancy, and while he beams with joy, Scarlett's mind turns to the Ku Klux Klan, a recently formed group claiming to defend whites against aggressive blacks. She appreciates that Frank isn't part of the Klan, considering the North's government is preparing to dismantle the group.

chapter 38

Scarlett is on a quest to find a suitable manager for her mill, while also adjusting to motherhood. Much to the dismay of Atlanta's traditional society, she starts to engage in trade with the Yankees, despite her disdain for them. Her fury is palpable when three Yankee women announce in Uncle Peter's presence that African Americans can't be trusted. Her encounters with Rhett become more frequent, leading her to rely on brandy for comfort. Upon receiving news of Gerald's death, she returns home heartbroken.

chapter 39

Scarlett comes back to Tara for her father Gerald's burial. Will Benteen reveals Suellen's attempt to deceive Gerald into swearing allegiance to the Union in her greed for more money. Compensation is promised to those who lost property in the war if they pledge loyalty to the Union. Suellen lured Gerald into intoxication to get him to sign the oath, but he sobered up to the deceit. Furious, he tore up the oath, fled on his horse and met his demise when thrown off while trying to leap a fence. Will leaves Scarlett taken aback when he discloses his intention to wed Suellen to secure his place in Tara permanently.

chapter 40

Scarlett is filled with an immense affection upon seeing Tara. Ashley presides over the funeral ceremony and Will requests to contribute a few sentiments. To prevent any potential negative comments about Suellen, Will reveals their betrothal and requests not to be followed by other speakers. Miss Fontaine imparts to Scarlett her belief that the key to prosperity is adapting to evolving circumstances, bouncing back from adversities, and strategically using and then dismissing people. This advice leaves Scarlett perplexed and bored.

chapter 41

Upon Gerald's burial, Scarlett rewards Pork, a loyal servant, with Gerald's gold watch. Discovering Ashley's plan to relocate to New York with Melanie, Scarlett persuades him to stay in Atlanta by offering a stake in the mill. Ashley initially declines, feeling guilty about relying on her charity and struggling with his feelings for her. However, when Scarlett starts crying, Melanie intervenes, learning about Scarlett's proposal. She encourages Ashley to accept, suggesting it as a way to both show gratitude to Scarlett and to raise Beau in Atlanta instead of the less friendly North. Ashley agrees, though it costs him his pride. Following the wedding of Suellen and Will, Carreen decides to join a convent. Ashley, Melanie, and Beau settle into a small home next to Aunt Pittypat's residence in Atlanta. Melanie's hopeful outlook, kind heart, and dedication to traditional Southern values transform her house into the social hub for respected Southern families. Ashley, however, struggles to make a profit from the freed slaves' work which prompts Scarlett to reveal her plans to hire convicts for her mills.

chapter 42

Scarlett delivers a less-than-attractive baby girl, Ella Lorena, and yearns to return to her mill. However, Frank doesn't allow this due to Atlanta's escalating dangers. The Yankees are eradicating the Ku Klux Klan and the newly liberated slaves in areas such as Shantytown are growing hostile. Archie, a gruff, one-legged, one-eyed mountain man, starts working as Scarlett's town escort. His uncouth demeanor doesn't deter him from becoming a chaperone for Atlanta's women. He threatens to abandon Scarlett when he hears about her convict leasing plan for her mills, revealing his past as a convict and his belief that convict leasing is worse than slavery. Scarlett finds out that the Georgia legislature has declined to approve an amendment granting citizenship to black people. While many locals laud this resolution, Scarlett understands it will stiffen the Yankees' treatment of Atlanta. She proceeds to lease ten convicts for her mill work and appoints a Yankee Irishman, Johnnie Gallegher, as their supervisor. Scarlett's decision sparks outrage in Atlanta and Archie leaves as he had warned. However, Gallegher proves to be an effective manager, getting impressive results from his workforce, much to Scarlett's chagrin.

chapter 43

Rhett drops by and reminds Scarlett about their agreement that the funds he lent for the mill purchase shouldn't be used to assist Ashley. Seeing Ashley now employed at the mill, Rhett accuses her of being unprincipled. In her defense, Scarlett says she had no option and promises to be gracious once she is rich and stable. Amused, Rhett suggests she should convince Frank to stay home more often. Misunderstanding Rhett's hint, Scarlett thinks he's implying that Frank is being unfaithful. Rhett chuckles and exits, leaving a flustered and irritated Scarlett behind.

chapter 44

Military rule intensifies in Georgia by March due to its denial of voting rights to black people. The tension between the freed blacks, Confederate whites, Yankee soldiers, and the Ku Klux Klan escalates. Scarlett finds Big Sam, who is in hiding for the murder of a Yankee, during a dangerous trip through Shantytown. She plans to aid his escape to Tara, arranging a meeting for that evening. At the mill, she discovers that Johnnie Gallegher has been mistreating the convicts, leaving them malnourished and regularly beating them. She protests fiercely, but Johnnie threatens to leave unless he is given full control. Scarlett backs down, considering how he has doubled the mill's productivity. Returning through Shantytown, she suffers an attack from a destitute white man and his black ally. Big Sam intervenes, confronting the attackers. He then hurries Scarlett away in her carriage, while she breaks down in tears.

chapter 45

Frank sends Scarlett to Melanie's home while he and Ashley go to a political meeting. There's an odd tension at Melanie's house, with Archie and the women appearing unusually on edge. Rhett shows up and urgently inquires about Ashley and Frank's whereabouts, implying it's a life-or-death situation. Melanie reveals they have gone to the old Sullivan estate, then tells Scarlett they are members of the Klan, along with all the men they know. They are seeking retribution for Scarlett's assault. Suddenly, a group of Union soldiers storm in, demanding to know where the men are. Eventually, Rhett, Ashley, and a man called Hugh Elsing stumble in, pretending to be inebriated. Rhett tells the Union captain, whom he is acquainted with, that they've been at Belle Watling’s place the entire night. Although dubious, the captain leaves hastily, feeling awkward. Rhett orders Archie to destroy the Klan uniforms and get rid of two unidentified corpses. Ashley is injured rather than drunk, and Scarlett realizes they've staged this whole scenario. She's so worried about Ashley that she barely notices Frank's absence. Rhett eventually reveals to her that Frank has been fatally shot in the head.

chapter 46

Belle, Ashley, and Rhett are summoned by a Yankee court the following day to give their accounts of the previous night's incidents. Their persuasive alibi exonerates them from any accusations. Belle is at a loss for words when Melanie, being a lady of high societal standing, shows her thanks and respect. Scarlett, however, faces the disdain of other Confederate women in Atlanta due to her involvement in the events of the previous night.

chapter 47

Feeling guilt-ridden and sipping brandy in her bedroom, Scarlett believes she is responsible for manipulating Frank into matrimony and subsequently causing his death. Rhett makes an unexpected appearance and proposes, but Scarlett initially declines, confessing she doesn't love him. Despite her confession, Rhett suggests a marriage of convenience, and after he passionately kisses her, a faint and dazed Scarlett agrees to his proposal. Rhett reveals his upcoming long journey, with plans for their wedding upon his return. News of their engagement causes a stir in Atlanta, but Scarlett pays no mind to the rumors and weds Rhett. Soon after, they head to New Orleans for an extended honeymoon.

chapter 48

Rhett and Scarlett relish their extravagant honeymoon in New Orleans. But on the final night, Scarlett is plagued by a dreadful dream: she sees herself frantically searching in the fog around Tara for something she can't identify. Rhett soothes her, assuring that she will adjust to this new sense of security. He also promises to provide ample funds for all her desires but draws the line at investing in her businesses, expressing his disinterest in aiding Ashley Wilkes.

chapter 49

Atlanta's society women plan to ostracize Scarlett and Rhett due to Scarlett's role in the Klan raid. However, Melanie fervently supports Scarlett, saving her from total social isolation. Meanwhile, Scarlett oversees the building of a grand manor in Atlanta, befriending numerous affluent but corrupt Republicans, Scalawags, and Carpetbaggers. Despite the Old South society's snubbing of her gatherings, she relishes her newfound wealth. Rhett funds her ventures, albeit with clear disdain for Scarlett's new associates. He cautions her about the potential consequences of snubbing Old Atlanta when the Democrats regain control, a warning Scarlett casually brushes off.

chapter 50

Scarlett's life with Rhett is generally pleasing, despite his habitual mockery and lack of interest towards her. However, she is dreadfully shocked one day when she learns she is expecting. The idea of ending the pregnancy crosses her mind, but Rhett, having witnessed a woman's death during an abortion, sternly forbids it to safeguard Scarlett's life. They eventually welcome a baby girl, and Rhett's deep affection for her leaves everyone astounded. Their daughter is christened Eugenie Victoria, but due to the blue hue of her eyes, reminiscent of the bonnie blue flag (a Confederate emblem), she is fondly nicknamed Bonnie Blue Butler.

chapter 51

Scarlett visits Ashley at the mill for a routine check on their accounts. Ashley reveals his lingering resentment towards Rhett, which lifts Scarlett's spirits as she interprets his jealousy as a sign of his love for her. Encouraged by this, she resolves to inform Rhett about her desire for separate sleeping quarters. This suggestion implicitly suggests the cessation of their intimate relations. Rhett, unaffected by her decision, coolly mentions his intent to seek out female companionship elsewhere. Following his departure, Scarlett is left alone, shedding tears over the loss of the intimate moments she used to share with Rhett, such as the comforting embrace during her nightmares and their often comforting late-night chats.

chapter 52

Rhett is determined that Bonnie shouldn't be made to suffer in Atlanta due to the societal downfall of him and Scarlett. Initiating a thorough plan, he works on regaining the approval of the traditional Southern ladies. He severs his relationship with the Republican Party and puts efforts into empowering the Democrats. Slowly, Old Atlanta begins to accept Rhett and Bonnie but continues to reject Scarlett and her Republican associations. At the age of two, Bonnie starts to exhibit a notable dread of darkness. Rhett accommodates Bonnie's fear by allowing her to sleep in his room with a light on every night.

chapter 53

Melanie plans a surprise party for Ashley's birthday. To keep him away, Scarlett visits him at the lumberyard. They reflect nostalgically on their lives before the war, and for the first time, Scarlett allows herself to reminisce about the past. She realizes Ashley's sorrow is linked to the disappearance of the Southern gentleman lifestyle. Her once ardent affection for Ashley has faded, replaced by a more platonic, empathetic love. Overwhelmed by emotions, Scarlett cries and Ashley comforts her. Archie and India, Ashley's sister, witness this scene, making Ashley uncomfortable. The incident reaches Rhett through Archie. Anticipating the gossip, Scarlett is apprehensive about meeting the party guests. Rhett scolds her, brands her a coward, and insists she face the party. Scarlett acknowledges that she only cares about Melanie's opinion of her. As Scarlett steps into the party, a hush falls and everyone turns to look at her. Melanie, appearing from the crowd, holds Scarlett's hand and requests her to greet the guests alongside her.

chapter 54

Scarlett spends a restless night reminiscing about Melanie's unwavering loyalty. She attempts to find solace in brandy and runs into a visibly upset and intoxicated Rhett. He confesses his deep love for her and his frustration at not being able to erase Ashley from her thoughts; he even suggests he would kill her if it could accomplish that. He then passionately carries her upstairs, undresses her, and kisses her forcefully. By morning, Scarlett finds herself ignited with fresh affection for Rhett. She anxiously awaits his presence, but he doesn't show up for days. When he does, he casually mentions spending time at Belle's. Their conversation turns bitter, and Rhett reveals his plans to take Bonnie on an extended trip.

chapter 55

Melanie incessantly backs Scarlett, even at the cost of her relationship with India. The respected families of Atlanta are forced to take a stand, escalating the clash and dividing the community. Consequently, Ashley parts ways with India, while Melanie and Aunt Pittypat, who houses India, also sever ties. Scarlett contemplates that she and Ashley are obliged to find solace in Melanie's steadfast support.

chapter 56

Rhett leaves for a quarter of a year, leaving Scarlett feeling his absence. She realizes she conceived on the eve of his departure, which surprisingly brings her joy. Upon his return, Rhett teases Scarlett, prompting her to share the news of her pregnancy. He retorts, “Cheer up, maybe you’ll have a miscarriage.” Scarlett, furious, attempts to hit him but misses, falling instead down a large staircase. This leads to her miscarriage and a brush with death. Throughout this ordeal, Melanie remains by her side. A guilt-ridden Rhett breaks down, confessing to Melanie his deep love for Scarlett and his fear that his irrational jealousy may have ended her life.

chapter 57

A month on, Scarlett finds herself recuperating at Tara. Rhett suggests to Melanie that Ashley should purchase Scarlett's mills, offering to finance the buyout anonymously, and Melanie is to persuade Ashley to agree. Melanie is hesitant but agrees, hopeful that this could allow Beau to go to Harvard and lessen Scarlett's worries. Ashley takes over the mills, prompting a small celebration among them. However, Scarlett vehemently opposes Ashley's decision to let go of Johnnie Gallegher and the convicts. Ashley counters, arguing that ill-gotten gains don't bring happiness. Scarlett rejects the idea, but when Rhett sarcastically questions if her wealth has brought her joy, she's left speechless.

chapter 58

Rhett dedicates himself to Bonnie and the Democratic Party. He discloses that he and Ashley successfully dissolved Georgia's Ku Klux Klan, persuading its followers that it was doing more harm than good. By the autumn of 1871, the endeavors of Rhett, Ashley, and others like them restore a Democratic dominance in the state legislature, marking the cessation of Reconstruction.

chapter 59

Bonnie is growing more and more indulged, with Rhett failing to discipline her. He fosters her love for horse riding by getting her a Shetland pony and instructing her on how to leap over hurdles. One day, Bonnie requests a higher jump from Rhett, who reluctantly agrees. She excitedly yells to Scarlett, “watch me take this one!” The same shout recalls to Scarlett her father's demise. Despite Scarlett's yell for her to halt, Bonnie fails to make the jump, leading to her fatal fall. Grieving, Rhett isolates himself with Bonnie's lifeless body, resisting her burial due to her fear of darkness. Scarlett blames Rhett for Bonnie's death, to which he retorts that Scarlett never had any affection for Bonnie. Melanie rushes to comfort Rhett, convinces him to proceed with the funeral, and spends the night with Bonnie's corpse while Rhett sleeps.

chapter 60

Weeks following the burial, Scarlett is clouded with fear and solitude, yearning for Rhett's solace. However, he is perpetually intoxicated, aggressive, and resentful. His well-being is declining and he often occupies his time at Belle Watling’s. Scarlett yearns to assure him that she doesn't hold him responsible for Bonnie’s demise but she fails to confront him. She even misses the presence of her former friends, but she has pushed everyone away except for Melanie, Ashley, and Aunt Pittypat.

chapter 61

In Marietta, Georgia, Scarlett receives a pressing message from Rhett: Melanie is on the verge of death. She hurries back home to find Melanie at death's door. Ignoring medical advice against having more kids due to her frail health, Melanie had another pregnancy that unfortunately ended in a miscarriage, an ordeal that has now sealed her fate. Scarlett finds herself overwhelmed by the sudden realization of how much she has relied on Melanie's strength, the protection Melanie offered, and the ways she has wronged Melanie, leading her to a profound sense of impending loss. At Melanie's side, Scarlett vows to care for Ashley and Beau. Seeking solace in Ashley's strength, she's taken aback by his frailty, making her understand that she had been infatuated with an illusion she created, not the man standing before her.

chapter 62

Overwhelmed by grief over Melanie's death and the end of her imagined love for Ashley, Scarlett seeks solace outdoors. The dense fog mirrors her recurring dream where she's in a frantic search for something unknown. As she starts running, it dawns on her that Rhett is what she's looking for. It strikes her that she's in love with him and that he has always loved her. With her fear and sadness dispelled, she races home to him with a newfound joy.

chapter 63

Scarlett admits her love for Rhett but he, exhausted, replies that his affection for her has faded and he plans to leave. Despite her desperate appeals, Rhett is set on pursuing a peaceful, dignified existence akin to the one he and the South once had before the war. When Scarlett asks about her situation if he departs, he asserts that their bond is irreparable. His parting words are, “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” Overwhelmed with grief and disbelief, Scarlett suddenly resolves to return to Tara, confident that Mammy will soothe her there. She's determined to regain her strength, devise a plan to reclaim Rhett’s love, echoing the tenacity of the Old South's people “who would not know defeat, even when it stared them in the face.” Drawing comfort and resilience from this, she defers her sorrow to the following day, clinging to her personal motto: “tomorrow is another day.”

Enjoying this summary?
Buy the book! (it's better)

People who recommended Gone with the Wind

Lists that recommended Gone with the Wind