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CHAPTER SUMMARIES AND NOTES
The barbecue takes place at the Wilkesí Twelve Oaks Plantation. Everyone from miles around is in attendance. Scarlett notices with a scorn that her sister Suellen has singled out Frank Kennedy to flirt with. India Wilkes is nowhere to be seen, but Scarlett knows that she in interested in Stuart Tarleton who has appeared to prefer Scarlett. She compares herself with many of the other girls. The Wilkes girls, particularly, she considers "plain." Frank Kennedy is nearly 40 and not particularly handsome, but Scarlett smiles flirtatiously at him anyway as part of her plan to make Ashley jealous. Before descending the stairs to touch up her hair, she greets Charles Hamilton, calling him a "handsome old thing." He blushes, as he is not used to girls speaking so to him.
Scarlett notices a strange, dark man and soon finds out that he is Rhett Butler, a man with a "terrible reputation" whose own folks wonít even talk to him. Supposedly his reputation was compromised when he took a girl out buggy riding and kept her out nearly all night due to an accident with the buggy. Since he hadnít done anything to her, he refused to marry her. The girlís brother called him out in a duel, and Rhett shot the boy.
During the barbecue, Scarlett purposely sits apart from the other people, the better to draw all the boys around her. Charles Hamilton ignores Honey Wilkes who is ready to cry. Frank Kennedy fusses over Scarlett, ignoring Suellen, and the Munroe girls try to hide their frustration over the Fontaine boys who are supposed to be their beaux. Meanwhile, Scarlett tries to draw Ashley into the circle around her, but he has eyes only for Melanie. The custom is for the girls to retire to the bedrooms and take an afternoon nap between the noon barbecue and the evening dance, but first the guests enter a discussion on the possibility of war and on who will sign up to fight. At one point Rhett Butler antagonizes the men by reminding them that there are no cannon factories south of the Mason Dixon line, just one detail of many in a lack of southern preparation. He says the Yankees would beat them in a month. Stuart Tarleton confronts Rhett, but Rhett rebukes him and excuses himself for some business he has to tend to with John Wilkes.
After making sure that Melanie is lying down along with the other girls, Scarlett sneaks downstairs and searches for a place to waylay Ashley. Finally she takes refuge in the library where Ashley accidentally spots her. There she tells him that she loves him and tries to convince him to abandon Melanie. He refuses, insisting that although he has always been fond of Scarlett, he believes they are too different for a marriage to ever work. Unable to change his mind, she finally slaps him. He leaves her fuming in the library. In a temper, she picks up a small bowl and hurls it across the room only to find that Rhett Butler has been lying on the sofa and has heard the entire exchange between herself and Ashley. In a fury, she leaves the library, hoping she will be able to slip into one of the dressing rooms and then onto one of the beds beside the other girls. Her plans are disrupted by the sound of female voices. Scarlett hears the other girls talking about her, and, to her chagrin, Melanie is defending her. Scarlett considers it just Melanieís way of flaunting her success with Ashley.
In a desperate attempt to show her competitors that they canít hurt her, Scarlett agrees to marry Charlie. She finds that war has been declared and Charlie will join up, but she is going to marry him before he leaves.
This chapter sets up a lot of foreshadowing. Rhett Butler is introduced and reveals by his admiring, if sarcastic, words that his interest in Scarlett has only begun. He predicts the loss of the war, which initiates feelings of antagonism toward him that are sure to grow. Scarlett flirts with Frank Kennedy and Charles Hamilton, although she cares not a bit for either of them. She agrees to marry Charles on the rebound from Ashley, and we can be sure that Frank will return to the picture at some point as well. Also, the scene with Ashley reveals that Scarlett's feelings for him are not entirely one-sided. It makes one wonder why he didn't pursue her a little more deliberately. Of course, her own behavior has actually backfired. She had thought to create jealousy in Ashley or anyone else she really cared about by constantly flirting with those she didn't want. She also enjoys a sadistic pleasure in surrounding herself with young men who supposedly have at least tentative commitments to the other girls.
Scarlett marries Charles and is a widow within two months. Trying to steal the show from Melanie, she sets her wedding for the day before that of Melanie and Ashley. On her wedding night, however, she refuses to allow Charles to sleep with her as that part of marriage had not occurred to her. She spends two weeks hoping for a word alone with Ashley, but without success. Ashley and Charles both leave to join the troops, and five weeks later Scarlett receives word that Charles has died of an illness. Before a year is out, Scarlett gives birth to Charlesí son, Wade Hampton Hamilton.
Although she has an easy birth, she becomes despondent and ill which those around her attribute to her grief over the loss of Charles. Actually, it is boredom, confusion over her sudden motherhood and continued anguish over the absence of Ashley. Finally the family decides to send her to Savannah to visit relatives, but she returns after only a month of absence. Then she receives a letter from Aunt Pittypat asking her to come and stay with them in Atlanta, as the two women are alone Scarlett decides to go in spite of a lack of affection for either Aunt Pittypat or Melanie. Any change from Tara and the memories associated with the neighborhood seems welcome.
It is certainly not lost on Scarlett that when Ashley comes home from the war, he will come to his wife in Atlanta. Also, she actually has a half interest in the house Pittypat is living in as it belongs to her own dead husband Charles. Charles also stood to inherit some warehouses and other property in Atlanta, so she is not going there to live on someone else's charity.