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Scarlett’s efforts at turning her love, finally, to Rhett are an utter failure. After she tells him how she loves him, he patiently explains that he has been in love with her since the day he saw her at Twelve Oaks, that no matter what he did, he never could get her out of his mind. However, he never could tell her because she took the love of people who cared for her and "held it over them like a whip." Nevertheless, he kept waiting and hoping until the weeks after her accident. He waited for her to call for him, but when she never did, he knew that it was over.
Finally he tells her that he is leaving and doesn’t care what she does. He will return often enough for decency’s sake since she doesn’t want a divorce. Scarlett tells herself that she will go back to Tara and that "tomorrow" she will find a way to get him back.
The end of the story is disappointing in that we want them to stay together now that Scarlett has realized that she loves him. It's hard to believe that his love for her could have died, in spite of everything that has happened. It seems that he might have left long ago were it not for the presence of Melanie and Mammy, and, of course, Bonnie. Now that the three people he regarded most highly in the entire world are gone, he has no motivation to stay with Scarlett.
We have to believe, however, that some day, beyond the limits of the story, he will come back. He has tried in the past to rid himself of thoughts of Scarlett and has never been successful. He will not be able to forget her and will ultimately return.