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Ultimately, Scarlett does pay a price for her independent nature--loneliness. She feels different from other women and other Southerners. Scarlett, however, accepts her fate--isolation and ostracism--for being different from the other members of her community. Above all else, Scarlett is courageous. When Atlanta is burning and the Confederate army is retreating, Rhett abandons Scarlett behind enemy lines, leaving her to drive her son, Wade, Melanie, who is very frail from recently giving birth, and Prissy, through darkness and danger back to Tara where many homes have been burned by the advancing Union army.. Later, when a lone Union soldier arrives at Tara to loot and to possibly rape her, she shoots him in the face and kills him. Confronted with her mother's death, her father's senility, and her sisters' illness, Scarlett assumes the patriarchal role of running Tara and saving the family from starvation. She also assumes traditional domestic responsibilities, which planter class women of her era did not perform, and finally, she assumes the role occupied by slaves prior to the start of the Civil War. No chore is beneath her now, not "the backbreaking work," or "the desperate struggle for food." Scarlett, who had been spoiled and pampered her entire life, "who had never raised her hand even to pick up her discarded stockings from the floor," is driven by hunger to care for her family, to survive. The reason Scarlett is able to assume these various roles and to rebuild and even thrive in the post War South is that she is, as Rhett described her upon their first meeting, "a girl of rare spirit, very admirable spirit." Scarlett "could not ignore life. She had to live it." Scarlett is also adaptive, or as Rhett labels her, an opportunist. When "the rules of the game" change after the Civil War, she changes, she adapts, while other Southerners remain the same and are unable to regain their former status and wealth. Scarlett is the consummate survivor. As Scarlett assumes these conflicting roles, she also reflects both the conflicting cultural expectations of women at this historical moment and Mitchell's own complex and conflicted views about her role as a woman in the early twentieth century. Scarlett embraces the conflict and also acts against it.
Gone with the Wind is the story of a woman of great strength overcoming all odds to care for her family and herself. Scarlett marries a man she does not love in order to get the money to save Tara, their plantation. Scarlett disregards public opinion, buying and running two sawmills in order to maintain her family's financial security. When her sister and the house servants complain, Scarlett even works in the fields of Tara herself to ensure a good harvest of cotton. Most shocking, though, is when Scarlett kills a Yankee who has come to steal from Tara.…...

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