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What is the plot of the book "Gone with the Wind?"

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Quick Answer

The plot of the novel “Gone with the Wind” follows Scarlett O’Hara, privileged daughter of plantation owners, through the onset and aftermath of the Civil War. With her endurance tested after Tara is commandeered and ruined by Union troops, Scarlett struggles to restore her home and fortune, plotting her way through business, seduction and marriage so that she can save her home.

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Full Answer

The novel “Gone with the Wind” opens with young Scarlett O’Hara scheming to marry Ashley Wilkes before her cousin Melanie Hamilton can. Out of spite, she marries Charles Hamilton (Melanie’s brother), who dies of measles during the war. Scarlett’s machinations – from her flirting with Ashley to her marrying her sister’s beau Frank Kennedy – wind back and forth with the plot of the novel from good fortune to bad.

With the Civil War pressing closer to Tara, the widowed Scarlett travels to Atlanta to stay with Melanie after the birth of her son. In Atlanta, she meets local rascal Rhett Butler, and the two keep company until Atlanta falls to Union troops when Scarlett and Melanie must evacuate to Tara.

They find Tara decimated, Scarlett’s family and fortune in ruins. For the remainder of the novel, Scarlett works to regain her social status and restore Tara’s grandeur. Largely on her own, she resorts to seduction to secure money to pay property taxes – accepting money from Rhett to buy a sawmill, marrying Frank, who owns a general store finally marrying Rhett, whose money allows her to live in a manner accustomed. At the end of “Gone with the Wind,” Scarlett’s scheming drives Rhett away, and Scarlett returns to Tara with the means to rebuild.

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