Margaret Mitchell's epic novel of love and war won the Pulitzer Prize and went on to give rise to two authorized sequels and one of the most popular and celebrated movies of all time. Many novels have been written about the Civil War and its aftermath. None take us into the burning fields and... read more
It is the spring of 1861. Scarlett O’Hara, a pretty Southern belle, lives on Tara, a large plantation in Georgia. She concerns herself only with her numerous suitors and her desire to marry Ashley Wilkes. One day she hears that Ashley is engaged to Melanie Hamilton, his frail, plain cousin... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
It is the spring of 1861. Scarlett O’Hara, a pretty Southern belle, lives on Tara, a large plantation in Georgia. She concerns herself only with her numerous suitors and her desire to marry Ashley Wilkes. One day she hears that Ashley is engaged to Melanie Hamilton, his frail, plain cousin from Atlanta. At a barbecue at the Wilkes plantation the next day, Scarlett confesses her feelings to Ashley. He tells her that he does love her but that he is marrying Melanie because she is similar to him, whereas he and Scarlett are very different. Scarlett slaps Ashley and he leaves the room. Suddenly Scarlett realizes that she is not alone. Rhett Butler, a scandalous but dashing adventurer, has been watching the whole scene, and he compliments Scarlett on being unladylike.
The Civil War begins. Charles Hamilton, Melanie’s timid, dull brother, proposes to Scarlett. She spitefully agrees to marry him, hoping to hurt Ashley. Over the course of two months, Scarlett and Charles marry, Charles joins the army and dies of the measles, and Scarlett learns that she is pregnant. After Scarlett gives birth to a son, Wade, she becomes bored and unhappy. She makes a long trip to Atlanta to stay with Melanie and Melanie’s aunt, Pittypat. The busy city agrees with Scarlett’s temperament, and she begins to see a great deal of Rhett. Rhett infuriates Scarlett with his bluntness and mockery, but he also encourages her to flout the severely restrictive social requirements for mourning Southern widows. As the war progresses, food and clothing run scarce in Atlanta. Scarlett and Melanie fear for Ashley’s safety. After the bloody battle of Gettysburg, Ashley is captured and sent to prison, and the Yankee army begins bearing down on Atlanta. Scarlett desperately wants to return home to Tara, but she has promised Ashley she will stay with the pregnant Melanie, who could give birth at any time.
On the night the Yankees capture Atlanta and set it afire, Melanie gives birth to her son, Beau. Rhett helps Scarlett and Melanie escape the Yankees, escorting them through the burning streets of the city, but he abandons them outside Atlanta so he can join the Confederate Army. Scarlett drives the cart all night and day through a dangerous forest full of deserters and soldiers, at last reaching Tara. She arrives to find that her mother, Ellen, is dead; her father, Gerald, has lost his mind; and the Yankee army has looted the plantation, leaving no food or cotton. Scavenging for subsistence, a furious Scarlett vows never to go hungry again.
Scarlett takes charge of rebuilding Tara. She murders a Yankee thief and puts out a fire set by a spiteful Yankee soldier. At last the war ends, word comes that Ashley is free and on his way home, and a stream of returning soldiers begins pouring through Tara. One such soldier, a one-legged homeless Confederate named Will Benteen, stays on and helps Scarlett with the plantation. One day, Will brings terrible news: Jonas Wilkerson, a former employee at Tara and current government official, has raised the taxes on Tara, hoping to drive the O’Haras out so that he might buy the plantation. Distraught, Scarlett hurries to Atlanta to seduce Rhett Butler so that he will give her the three hundred dollars she needs for taxes. Rhett has emerged from the war a fabulously wealthy man, dripping with earnings from his blockade-running operation and from food speculation. However, Rhett is in a Yankee jail and cannot help Scarlett. Scarlett sees her sister’s beau, Frank Kennedy, who now owns a general store, and forges a plan. Determined to save Tara, she betrays her sister and marries Frank, pays the taxes on Tara, and devotes herself to making Frank’s business more profitable.
After Rhett blackmails his way out of prison, he lends Scarlett enough money to buy a sawmill. To the displeasure of Atlanta society, Scarlett becomes a shrewd businesswoman. Gerald dies, and Scarlett returns to Tara for the funeral. There, she persuades Ashley and Melanie to move to Atlanta and accept a share in her lumber business. Shortly thereafter, Scarlett gives birth to Frank’s child, Ella Lorena.
A free black man and his white male companion attack Scarlett on her way home from the sawmill one day. That night, the Ku Klux Klan avenges the attack on Scarlett, and Frank ends up dead. Rhett proposes to Scarlett and she quickly accepts. After a long, luxurious honeymoon in New Orleans, Scarlett and Rhett return to Atlanta, where Scarlett builds a garish mansion and socializes with wealthy Yankees. Scarlett becomes pregnant again and has another child, Bonnie Blue Butler. Rhett dotes on the girl and begins a successful campaign to win back the good graces of the prominent Atlanta citizens in order to keep Bonnie from being an outcast like Scarlett.
Scarlett and Rhett’s marriage begins happily, but Rhett becomes increasingly bitter and indifferent toward her. Scarlett’s feelings for Ashley have diminished into a warm, sympathetic friendship, but Ashley’s jealous sister, India, finds them in a friendly embrace and spreads the rumor that they are having an affair. To Scarlett’s surprise, Melanie takes Scarlett’s side and refuses to believe the rumors.
After Bonnie is killed in a horse-riding accident, Rhett nearly loses his mind, and his marriage with Scarlett worsens. Not long after the funeral, Melanie has a miscarriage and falls very ill. Distraught, Scarlett hurries to see her. Melanie makes Scarlett promise to look after Ashley and Beau. Scarlett realizes that she loves and depends on Melanie and that Ashley has been only a fantasy for her. She concludes that she truly loves Rhett. After Melanie dies, Scarlett hurries to tell Rhett of her revelation. Rhett, however, says that he has lost his love for Scarlett, and he leaves her. Grief-stricken and alone, Scarlett makes up her mind to go back to Tara to recover her strength in the comforting arms of her childhood nurse and slave, Mammy, and to think of a way to win Rhett back. (Which is also know to a movie... really good)
“After all, tomorrow is another day”Scarlett O'Hara
“I believe women could manage everything in the world without men's help -- except having babies, and God knows, no woman in her right mind would have babies if she could help it.”Scarlett O'Hara
“My dear, I don't give a damn.”Rhett Butler
“Home! That was where she wanted to go. That was where she was running. Home to Rhett.”
“Now she knew the haven she had sought in dreams, the place of warm safety which had always been hidden from her in the mist. It was not Ashley --oh, never Ashley! <...> It was Rhett. <...> He loved her! Why hadn't she realized that he loved her, for all his taunting remarks to the contrary?”
“"Damn your looks! You know you always look beautiful to me!"”Ashley Wilkes
“"All wars are sacred," he said. "To those who have to fight them. If the people who started wars didn’t make them sacred, who would be foolish enough to fight? But, no matter what rallying cries the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles. But so few people ever realize it. Their ears are too full of bugles and drums and fine words from stay-at-home orators. Sometimes the rallying cry is ‘Save the Tomb of Christ from the Heathen!’ Sometimes it’s ‘Down with Popery!’ and sometimes ‘Liberty!’ and sometimes ‘Cotton, Slavery and States’ Rights!’””Rhett Butler
““There’s just as much money to be made in the wreck of a civilization as in the upbuilding of one.””Rhett Butler
“But, Scarlett, did it ever occur to you that even the most deathless love could wear out? <...> Did it ever occur to you that I loved you as much as a man can love a woman? Loved you for years before I finally got you? During the war I'd go away and try to forget you, but I couldn't and I always had to come back and find you.”Rhett Butler
“It doesn't matter who you marry, as long as he thinks like you and is a gentleman and a Southerner and prideful.”Gerald O'Hara
“"Mistress!...What would I get out of that except a parcel of brats?"”Scarlett O'Hara
“There was something breathtaking in the grace of his big body which made his very entrance like an abrupt physical impact.”Scarlett O'Hara
“"There ain't nothin' that walks can lick us...But that weakness that's in our hearts can lick us in the time it takes to bat your eye."”
“With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.”Rhett Butler
“I can't think about that right now. If I do, I'll go crazy. I'll think about that tomorrow.”Scarlett O'Hara
“I can't go all my life waiting to catch you between husbands.”Rhett Butler
“What I've wished for so often has happened. I've wished Melly was dead so I could have him. And now she's dead and I've got him and I don't want him.”Scarlett O'Hara
“Why, all we have is cotton and slaves and arrogance.”Rhett Butler
“The only time crying ever did any good was when there was a man around from whom you wished favours.”
“I loved you but I couldn't let you know it. You’re so brutal to those who love you, Scarlett. You take their love and hold it over their heads like a whip.”Rhett Butler
“Land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything,” he shouted, his thick, short arms making wide gestures of indignation, “for ’tis the only thing in this world that lasts, and don’t you be forgetting it! ’Tis the only thing worth working for, worth fighting for—worth dying for.”Gerald O'Hara
“It was a memorable day in the life of the twins. Thereafter, when they talked it over, they always wondered just why they had failed to notice Scarlett's charms before. They never arrived at the correct answer, which was that Scarlett on that day had decided to make them notice. She was constitutionally unable to endure any man being in love with any woman not herself, and the sight of India Wilkes and Stuart at the speaking had been too much for her predatory nature. Not content with Stuart alone, she had set her cap for Brent as well, and with a thoroughness that overwhelmed the two of them”
“Babies, babies, babies. Why did God make so many babies? But no, God didn't make them. Stupid people made them.”
“"They could burn the roof over us. I did not want to leave anyway -- leave Tara--". His voice trailed off into silence as he looked absently about the walls and Scarlett understood. There were too many Irish ancestors crowding behind Gerald's shoulders, men who had died on scant acres, fighting to the end rather than leave the homes where they had lived, plowed, loved, begotten sons.”
“You can tell your curious friends that when I marry it will be because I couldn't get the woman I wanted in any other way. And I've never yet wanted a woman bad enough to marry her.”Rhett Butler
“There's nothing after we die, Scarlett. You are having your hell now.”Rhett Butler
“Oh, yes, you've been faithful to me because Ashley wouldn't have you. But, hell, I wouldn't have grudged him your body. ùi know how little bodies mean -- especially women's bodies. But I do grudge him your heart and your dear, hard, unscrupulous, stubborn mind. He doesn't want your mind, the fool, and I don't want your body. I can buy women cheap. But I do want your mind and your heart, and I'll never have them, any more than you'll ever have Ashley's mind. And that's why I'm sorry for you.”Rhett Butler
“But for all the modesty of her spreading skirts, the demureness of hair netted smoothly into a chignon and the quietness of small white hands folded in her lap, her true self was poorly concealed. The green eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, willful, lusty with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor. Her manners had been imposed upon her by her mother's gentle admonitions and the sterner discipline of her mammy; her eyes were her own.”
“They were all healthy, thoughtless young animals, sleek, graceful, high-spirited, the boys as mettlesome as the horses they rode, mettlesome and dangerous but, withal, sweet tempered to those who knew how to handle them.”
“It was a savagely red land, blood-colored after rains, brick dust in droughts, the best cotton land in the world. It was a pleasant land of white houses, peaceful plowed fields and sluggish yellow rivers, but a land of contrasts, of brightest sun glare and densest shade. The plantation clearings and miles of cotton fields smiled up to a warm sun, placid, complacent. At their edges rose the virgin forests, dark and cool even in the hottest noons, mysterious, a little sinister, the soughing pines seeming to wait with an age old patience, to threaten with soft sighs: "Be careful! Be careful! We had you once. We can take you back again."”
“You know she said I was going to marry a gentleman with jet-black hair and a long black mustache, and I don't like black-haired gentlemen.”Scarlett O'Hara
“She was constitutionally unable to edure any man being in love with any woman not herself”
“Men and women, they were beautiful and wild, all a little violent under their pleasant ways and only a little tamed.”
“He swung about, facing the crowd, clicked his heels together and bowed like a dancing master, a bow that was graceful for so powerful a man, and as full of impertinence as a slap in the face.”
“Eavesdroppers often hear highly entertaining and instructive things.”Rhett Butler
“Vanity was stronger than love at sixteen and there was no room in her hot heart now for anything but hate.”
“How closely women clutch the very chains that bind them!”Rhett Butler
“Until you've lost your reputation, you never realize what a burden it was or what freedom really is."”Rhett Butler
“I know I'm crazy but I don't care. I don't care a bit what anybody says.”Scarlett O'Hara
“All had suffered crushing misfortunes and had not been crushed...Tara was her fate, her fight, and she must conquer it.”
“She saw in a flash of clarity untouched by any petty emotion that beneath the gentle voice and the dovelike eyes of Melanie there was a thin flashing blade of unbreakable steel, felt too that there were banners and bugles of courage in Melanie's quiet blood.”
“That had taken courage, the kind of courage Scarlett honestly knew she herself did not possess, the thin-steel, spun-silk courage which had characterized Melanie...”
“As Frank said, it was a pushy, impudent place and that was why she liked it.”
“It's a young age to have gained the whole world and lost your own soul, isn't it?”Rhett Butler
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