Gone with the Wind
Margaret Mitchell
Contributed by Joslyn Justiniano

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Chapter 45-46
Summary

Chapter 45

Frank appears to take Scarlett’s assault seriously, yet calmly, and she is irate when he leaves for his usual political meeting, abandoning her at Melanie’s care. She needs individuals to get worked up about her, yet Melanie and India appear to be oddly tense. Rhett appears at their door, requesting to know where “they” — Frank and Ashley — have gone, and said it is a case of an emergency. Melanie discloses to him where to get the men. After Rhett leaves, she reveals to Scarlett the reality about their "political gathering": Frank and Ashley and the others are all members of the Klan, and they intend to go after and kill the two men who assaulted Scarlett. Rhett got wind that the Yankees are planning to capture or execute all the Klan members they can get. Scarlett makes it obvious she is alarmed — most importantly, for her store’s security, besides Ashley’s life; she does not say anything about Frank.

As the ladies face their problems and figure out how best to get out of the mess, Yankee fighters appear at the door. They make their for request Ashley and Frank, who are not home. The officers sit tight, waiting for them to return. The ladies sew, and Melanie reads rather loudly from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1862). Scarlett gives careful consideration; she is excessively occupied, feeling it will be her blame if Ashley and Frank are executed. Noisy, intoxicated singing startles the visitors. Rhett, Ashley, and another man come filtering in. Rhett and Melanie act out an argument, and Rhett “concedes” the men were at Belle Watling’s brothel.  When the Yankees leave, the ladies find out that Ashley was shot. Rhett ultimately tells Scarlett about Frank, who died after being shot in the head.

Chapter 46

Belle appears outside Melanie’s home that night, where she contacted her using a card to say thank you. Belle needs Melanie to know they cannot be viewed as both of them being in close companionship since it may ruin Rhett’s plan. She says she lied for the solely for the benefit of Melanie and Belle has not overlooked Melanie's thoughtfulness. Belle says she did not do anything for Scarlett’s purpose; however Melanie is seeks to protect Scarlett.

Analysis

A minor detail: Melanie reads Les Misérables — and it communicates a considerable measure about the Southerners’ perspectives in Gone with the Wind. Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel recollects the account of Jean Valjean, who is detained for taking a portion of bread to assist a starving kid. After 19 years in jail, Valjean is liberated, yet for whatever is left of the long novel, he is sought after by a police officer who needs to put him back in prison. Valjean does various great deeds, and even saves the lives of different individuals, yet in the state of a criminal. Melanie, India, and a significant number of other Southerners see the Klan as a gathering of Jean Valjean, correcting wrongs and being oppressed for their great deeds. Obviously, this is a deception of the genuine Klan, regardless of whether “great” men like Ashley and Frank are included.

Rhett’s plan is a win, but leaves the vast majority of the men in disdain on account of his tale about Belle Watling. Consistent with his temperament, Rhett appears to appreciate making himself an outcast; notwithstanding when he accomplishes something that could endear him to Southern culture, he cannot avoid hurting individuals. Once more, Melanie confirms herself as a great lady: she plays well to suit Rhett’s plan, which spares Ashley’s life. Melanie is exceedingly faithful, even to acts of futility like the Confederacy and Scarlett.

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