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PLOT ANALYSIS (Structure)

The novel is written with a simple, linear plot that spans about eight years. The single most important event is the Civil War, which changes the lives of everyone in the south and drives Scarlett to some of her most reckless deeds. Forward motion is achieved by a pattern of foreshadow and fulfillment which at times is so obvious that overt prediction is a better term than foreshadowing. The men with whom Scarlett carelessly flirts in the beginning both end up marrying her. Rhett whom she claims to hate from the moment she lays eyes on him becomes an important figure not only for Scarlett but for the rest of the characters as well. In fact, he makes many of the predictions that anger them the most. As soon as Scarlett says she will never have children, we know she will have them. And when she breathes a sigh of relief that the worst of the war tragedies is over, we know that something worse yet is just around the corner.


Rhett warns Scarlett to tell Frank to stay home if he wants to see his daughter grow up. Frank does not stay home, and he is killed. Rhett also tries to explain to Scarlett that she is endangering herself and the other women by her carelessness. She ignores him and is, of course, attacked on the way home from her mills. Even Rhett himself is caught in the cycle. He dotes too much on Bonnie and loses her. We know as soon as he says that he is not the marrying kind, that he will ultimately marry Scarlett. The one twist occurs at the end. Scarlett realizes that he is the one she wants, the person in her dream mist, and promptly loses him. It is probably this singular twist that made the novel so popular.

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