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CHAPTER SUMMARIES WITH NOTES
Scarlett O’Hara is seated on the porch of the O’Hara plantation. She flirts with Stuart and Brent Tarleton, two among many young men of the area who seem to be attracted to her. The boys are at the O’Hara home in order to prolong going to their own, as they have just been expelled from the fourth university in two years. The three of them think the expulsion quite amusing although the boys excuse their behavior by saying they would have had to come home as soon as war broke out anyway. Scarlett scoffs at the idea, refusing to believe that there will ever be a war.
During the conversation, Stuart and Brent remind Scarlett of a barbecue being held the following evening. They want her to promise them plenty of dances. They inform Scarlett that they have heard that Ashley Wilkes will announce his engagement to Melanie Hamilton at the barbecue. Although Scarlett retains her poise, the news is a shock to her, and she suddenly becomes distant from the young men, forgetting even to ask them to stay to supper.
After leaving Scarlett, Brent and Stuart introduce, by way of discussion about them, several other characters such as India Wilkes and Letty Monroe, both rivals of Scarlett’s. They have two more brothers named Tom and Boyd, and a black slave named Jeems. They decide to visit the Calverts for supper. They finally dismiss that idea because they dread another lecture at the hands of a Yankee stepmother. They finally decide to go to the Wynders.
The end of the chapter describes an assembly of upper class boys turned soldiers, called the Troop. They are a group of Calvary that had been organized on the day Georgia seceded from the Union. They are completely inexperienced and have selected officers merely by voting among themselves. Initially they recruited only among the rich planters, but for lack of numbers they also recruited from the families of small farmers, hunters and other "poor whites." The wealthier families purchased their horses and their weapons were a varied array of whatever could be gathered. The Troop meets twice a week to drill in Jonesboro, always ending up in saloons and in fights.
Chapter one introduces several characters and foreshadows the Civil War. Scarlett is seen as flirtatious and unpredictable, but the men seem to like her that way. As a matter of fact, the Tarleton boys themselves seem immature and lack any sense of seriousness or responsibility for themselves. It is a subtle comment on the lifestyle itself. The young people didn't need to take their education or their relationships very serious as they believed they had plenty of time and plenty of money to take life as it came.
Scarlett allows herself to react to the Tarleton twins’ news. She is unable to believe that Ashley could be marrying Melanie as she has had a crush on him herself for years.
We meet Mammy, the black woman who had been mammy to Scarlett’s mother Ellen and has led a life devoted to the O’Hara family. She oversees all the household servants and watches over the health and behavior of the O’Hara girls. Scarlett takes advantage of a moment when Mammy goes after a shawl for her to run down the long mansion drive where she can meet her father. He had been at the Wilkes making deals for another slave, and Scarlett thinks she can get him to talk about the supposed engagement without being suspicious of her motives.
Scarlett waits at the fence, musing on the blond Ashley whom she wants even though she must admit that she doesn’t understand him. Finally her father comes racing through the fields, recklessly jumping a fence, an action he knows his wife would not approve of. Scarlett deliberately laughs to let him know she has seen him. She will not tell on him, however, as the two of them have quite a few mutual secrets involving behavior that would be considered inappropriate for either a gentleman or a lady. Gerald O’Hara tells his daughter of the slave he has bought. He has purchased Dilcey and her daughter Prissy from John Wilkes. He intends to give Prissy to Scarlett.
When Scarlett asks after Ashley, Gerald confirms the news that Ashley is about to marry Melanie Hamilton. Scarlett pretends she is not really interested, but Gerald sees through her and scolds her for wanting someone whose interests are in books, poetry, music and paintings, topics that do not interest Scarlett at all. Gerald tries to console her by telling her that she will have Tara one day, but she is feeling sorry for herself and says that land doesn’t amount to anything. Gerald is momentarily angry with her, but he drops the issue. They arrive at home in time to see Ellen on her way out. She has received a call from the Slatterys, a "white trash" family near by who have a new, and dying, baby. Mammy objects to Ellen going to take care of the "white trash," but she cannot stop her.
We begin to have a clearer picture of some of the relationships among Scarlett's circle of acquaintances. Scarlett seems to be her father's favorite and usually able to get her way, but Gerald does have some common sense about the type of person his daughter would be best suited to marry. Ellen is the kind of person who will help anyone without regard to station in spite of being a Robillard herself. Mammy, the household slave who cooks, cleans and obviously looks out for the entire family, considers herself in a class above the "white trash." We get a peek at just how much Scarlett is like her father when he takes dangerous chances himself and then bargains with Scarlett so she won't tell her mother. The importance of the land itself is foreshadowed when Gerald tells Scarlett that Tara will be hers someday and she scoffs at the very notion of land being important to anyone.