Gone With The Wind 13

When Scarlett confesses her feelings to Rhett, he tells her that his love for her has worn out and that he is going away. Rhett says he is going to search for a calm, dignified life like the one he and the South lost in the war. Scarlett pleads for “what shall she do if he leaves her?” Rhett parts with the words, “My dear, I don’t give a damn.”

Rhett and Scarlett cannot work out their difficulties because they are too similar, and they are both equally to blame for the failure of their love. Scarlett wasted time ignoring years of Rhett’s devotion, she was too self-absorbed to see that true love lies just underneath Rhett’s veneer of apathy. Rhett cannot rein in his passion for Scarlett, and lets it erupt in violence. When he finally won her heart he threw it away in a true moment of apathy.

After Rhett’s declaration that he doesn’t care what happens to her. Scarlett is in misery and shock, but she decides she must go back to Tara, for there, Mammy will comfort her. Scarlett believes she will grow strong again and find a way to win Rhett back.

I suppose that the end of the novel can be read as either tragic or hopeful:
1. Scarlett will get Rhett back and after she goes back to Tara to renew her strength. The final phrase of the novel, “tomorrow is another day,” could signify that the story does not end with the novel and that Scarlett will never give up in her quest for happiness.

2. However, the same events can be read more darkly. Scarlett has lost Rhett’s love, and although we have seen her survive through many hardships, she has never lost a husband she loved (she does not love either of her previous husbands). Her determination to return to Tara seems either valiant or deluded, for it is not entirely certain she will find happiness alone at Tara. Her final repetition of the mantra “tomorrow is another day” seems slightly disappointing. Scarlett always thinks she will put off moral considerations until an easier time, but as the novel ends she still has not reflected on her actions or learned from her wrongdoing. In some ways, she has not progressed at all.

Still, Scarlet does stand for the South and the South’s resilience. When Scarlett chooses Rhett over Ashley it suggests that the life of the Old South, symbolized by Ashley, no longer exists. Like the Old South, Scarlett gives up hopeless dreams of a past life and looks to build a better future. Rhett scoffs at the South early on, but in the end he speaks sentimentally of his Southern heritage, so that when Scarlett chooses Rhett to love, she chooses the strange mixture of old and new that Rhett embodies. Like Scarlett, the South survives by changing with the changing times.

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