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Chapter XXXIV

Summary

Scarlett visits Rhett in jail, a building that was at one time one of the grand houses where she had been a guest at numerous parties. She puts on an act, hinting that she is in love with him and claiming to be distressed over the possibility that he could be hung. The ruse almost works until Rhett sees her callused, work-worn hands. He guesses the truth; that she had been hoping to trick him into offering marriage. Her plan ruined, Scarlett tells him the whole truth about the situation at Tara including her desperate need for money to pay the taxes. She offers him a lien on Tara, which he refuses. Finally she offers herself, promising to be his mistress when he gets out of jail. It amazes Rhett that when he asked her to be his mistress during the war, she had reacted angrily, calling him names and saying she never wanted to see him again; she wonít do such a thing for her own pleasure, but she will do it to save her home. However, after letting Scarlett make a fool of herself, he explains to her that he canít give her the money because in his present circumstances, he is unable to write a draft for it.


Notes

Scarlett's determination to sacrifice even herself if it will save her home is actually a positive characteristic. We know as soon as Rhett sees her hands that he will not give her any money. In fact, if Scarlett had been thinking clearly, she should have known that while he was in jail, he could not reveal the location of his funds. He wants to see how far she will go in begging him to help her; it is ironic that the proud Scarlett would debase herself so completely to protect Tara when at one time she scoffed at the very idea of land having any importance. Nevertheless, her priorities at this point are not out of line.

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