Gone with the Wind, is an epic romance novel written by Margaret Mitchell, who received the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for the book in 1937 and is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and the Reconstruction Era (1865–1877) that followed the war. The book is the source of the 1939 film of the same name which recieved its premiere at Loew’s Grand Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, United States ON December 15th 1939. iT unfolds against the backdrop of rebellion wherein seven southern states, Georgia among them, have declared their secession from the United States (the “Union”) and formed the Confederate States of America (the “Confederacy”), after Abraham Lincoln was elected president. A dispute over states’ rights has arisen involving enslaved African people who were the source of manual labor on cotton plantations throughout the South. The story opens in April 1861 at the “Tara” plantation, which is owned by a wealthy Irish immigrant family, the O’Haras including their sixteen-year-old daughter Scarlett O’Hara, on the day before the men are called to war. Miss Scarlett learns that Ashley Wilkes, is soon to be engaged to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton and informs Ashley she loves him and Ashley admits he cares for her. However he refuses her marriage proposal as he knows he would not be happily married to Scarlett because of their personality differences. Then Scarlett meets local rogue Rhett Butler alone in the library.
Scarltt learns that war has been declared and the men are going to enlist. Seeking revenge for being jilted by Ashley, Scarlett accepts a proposal of marriage from Melanie’s brother, Charles Hamilton. They marry two weeks later. Charles dies from measles two months after the war begins. Scarlett is pregnant with her first child. A widow at merely sixteen, she gives birth to a boy, Wade Hampton Hamilton, named after his father’s general. As a widow, she is bound by tradition to wear black and avoid conversation with young men. Scarlett is despondent as a result of the restrictions placed upon her. Melanie, who is living in Atlanta invites Scarlett to live with them. In Atlanta, Scarlett’s spirits revive and she is busy with hospital work and sewing circles for the Confederate army. Scarlett encounters Rhett Butler again at a dance for the Confederacy. Although Rhett believes the war is a lost cause, he is blockade running for the profit in it. The men must bid for a dance with a lady and Rhett bids “one hundred fifty dollars-in gold.” for a dance with Scarlett. Everyone at the dance is shocked that Rhett would bid for Scarlett, the widow still dressed in black. Melanie smooths things over by coming to Rhett’s defense because he is generously supporting the Confederate cause for which her husband, Ashley, is fighting. Ashley is granted some land by the army and returns to Atlanta to be with Melanie. The war is going badly for the Confederacy. Atlanta is under siege (September 1864), “hemmed in on three sides,” it descends into a desperate state while hundreds of wounded Confederate soldiers lie dying or dead in the city. Melanie goes into labour with only the inexperienced Scarlett to assist, as all the doctors are busy attending the soldiers. In the chaos, Scarlett, left to fend for herself, cries for the comfort and safety of her mother and Tara. The tattered Confederate States Army sets Atlanta ablaze as they abandon it to the Union Army.
Melanie gives birth to a boy named “Beau”, and now they must hurry for refuge. Scarlett tells Prissy, a young servant, to go find Rhett, and Scarlett begs him to take herself, Wade, Melanie, Beau, and Prissy to Tara. Rhett laughs at the idea, but steals an emaciated horse and a small wagon, and they follow the retreating army out of Atlanta.Part way to Tara, Rhett has a change of heart and he abandons Scarlett to enlist in the army. Scarlett makes her way to Tara without him where she is welcomed on the steps by her father, Gerald. It is clear things have drastically changed: Gerald has lost his mind, Scarlett’s mother is dead, her sisters are sick with typhoid fever, the field slaves left after Emancipation, the Yankees have burned all the cotton and there is no food in the house.The long tiring struggle for post-war survival begins that has Scarlett working in the fields. There are hungry people to feed and little food. There is the ever present threat of the Yankees who steal and burn, and at one point, Scarlett kills a Yankee marauder with a single shot. A long succession of Confederate soldiers returning home stop at Tara to find food and rest. Two men stay on, an invalid Cracker, Will Benteen, and Ashley Wilkes, whose spirit is broken. Life at Tara slowly begins to recover when a new threat appears in the form of new taxes on Tara.Scarlett knows only one man who has enough money to help her pay the taxes, Rhett Butler. She goes to Atlanta to find him only to learn Rhett is in jail. As she is leaving the jailhouse, Scarlett runs into Frank Kennedy, who is betrothed to Scarlett’s sister, Suellen, and running a store in Atlanta. Soon realizing Frank also has money, Scarlett hatches a plot and tells Frank that Suellen has changed her mind about marrying him. Thereafter Frank succumbs to Scarlett’s feminine charms and he marries her two weeks later Always wanting Scarlett to be happy and radiant, Frank gives her the money to pay the taxes on Tara.
Scarlett goes over the accounts at Frank’s store and finds many of his friends owe him money. Scarlett is now terrified about the taxes and takes control of his business while he is away and her business practices leave many Atlantans resentful of her. Then with a loan from Rhett she buys a sawmill and runs the lumber business herself. Much to Frank’s relief, Scarlett learns she is pregnant, which curtails her activities for awhile. She convinces Ashley to come to Atlanta and manage the mill, so Ashley takes the job at the mill. Melanie soon becomes the center of Atlanta society, and Scarlett gives birth to a girl named Ella Lorena. The state of Georgia is under martial law and life there has taken on a frightening tone. For protection, Scarlett keeps Frank’s pistol tucked in the upholstery of the buggy. Her trips alone to and from the mill take her past a shanty town where criminal elements live. On one evening when she is coming home from the mill, Scarlett is accosted by two men who attempt to rob her, but she escapes with the help of Big Sam, the former negro foreman from Tara. Attempting to avenge the assault on his wife, Frank and the Ku Klux Klan raid the shanty town whereupon Frank is shot dead. Scarlett is widowed for a second time. Meanwhile Rhett, Hugh Elsing and Ashley prretend to be drunk and tell the law they visited the local brothel to keep the men who participated in the shanty town raid from being arrested. After learning the terrible news Scarlett is in a remorseful state when Rhett comes to call. She tells Rhett tearfully, “I’m afraid I’ll die and go to hell,” to which Rhett replies, “Maybe there isn’t a hell.” Before she can cry any further, Rhett asks Scarlett to marry him saying, “I always intended having you, one way or another.” Scarlett declares she doesn’t love him and doesn’t want to be married again. However, Rhett kisses her passionately, and in the heat of the moment she agrees to marry him. One year later, Scarlett and Rhett announce their engagement. Shortly after The engagement the Butlers move into their new home, the sardonic jabs between them turn into full-blown quarrels. Scarlett wonders why Rhett agreed to marry her.
They have two children Wade and Eugenie Victoria seven years later, who is named after two queens, and has blue eyes and Melanie gives her the nickname, “Bonnie Blue,” in reference to the Bonnie Blue Flag of the Confederacy. After meeting Ashley in the office at the Sawmill she comes away believing he still loves her. Things come to a head when Melanie gives a surprise birthday party for Ashley and Scarlett goes to the mill to keep Ashley there until party time, a rare opportunity for Scarlett to see Ashley alone. Ashley tells her how pretty she looks, and they reminisce about the days when they were young and talk about their lives now. Suddenly Scarlett’s eyes fill with tears and Ashley holds her head against his chest. Unfortunately this is witnessed by Ashley’s sister, India Wilkes, who begins to spread rumours of an adulterous relationship between Ashley and Scarlett. After the party Rhett returns home drunk his mood is dark and violent. He tells Scarlett they could have been happy together before leaving town the following morning with Bonnie and Prissy, Scarlett then learns that she is pregnant with her fourth child.
When Rhett eventually returns, he finds Scarlett pale & seriously ill having lost her child and broken her ribs.She finds Rhett’s attitude has noticeably changed. He is sober, kinder, polite and seemingly disinterested. Though she misses the old Rhett at times, Scarlett is content to leave well enough alone. When she regains her health she returns to Atlanta & sells the mills to Ashley. Bonnie grows up to be a spirited and willful child, who has Rhett wrapped around her finger and giving into her every demand, even buying Bonnie a Shetland pony and teaching her to jump…sadly though this ends in tragedy & With the untimely death of Melanie Wilkes a short time later, Rhett decides he only wants the calm dignity of the genial South he once knew in his youth and he leaves Atlanta to find it. Meanwhile, Scarlett dreams of love that has eluded her for so long. However, she still has Tara and is determined to win Rhett back, and “tomorrow is another day.”