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Chapter LVI

Summary

Rhett returns after three months; Scarlett has been longing for his return and plans to make him happy with the news that she is pregnant again. However, he greets her casually, not even bothering to kiss her. He asks why she is so pale; she hurls the news of her pregnancy at him, saying it is his fault. He taunts her that she shouldn’t worry-maybe she will have a miscarriage. She lunges at him from the top of the stairs, but he steps aside and fall all the way to the bottom. The fall does indeed cause a miscarriage as well as an extended illness during which Scarlett has periods of delirious half-conscious dreams. Rhett blames himself, hoping that she will call for him. However, she only calls for Melanie. He does not know that whenever she thinks of him, she remembers that he doesn’t want her and restrains herself from calling his name.


Rhett turns to Melanie for comfort in his own desperation, confessing things no ‘cultured" woman should hear. She comforts him, refusing to believe anything bad and assures him that Scarlett will get well. Rhett almost tells her that Scarlett has always loved Ashley but realizes that Melanie would not believe it and that she is too good a person for him to hurt in such a way. As far as he is concerned, Melanie is the only truly good person he has ever known.

Notes

Scarlett's pregnancy is a result of the one whirlwind night of passionate love making after the incident with Ashley. Even though he left after delivering sharp words, she recalls that night with pleasure. It is ironic that she looks forward to telling him she is pregnant and imagines it as happy news when she had so adamantly stated her feelings against having more children. However, Rhett left in anger and returned like an iceberg. If he had greeted her with a kiss and some indication of forgiveness, she would have responded positively to him. His coldness brings a like response from her and turns her anticipation to fury. In addition to bringing the story to a climax, the incident gives Rhett an opportunity to let someone else know how he truly felt about Scarlett.

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