Even Rhett Butler didn’t have the relationship game to hold together a marriage with a girl like Scarlett O’Hara. There’s a lesson there about marrying women who need to be gamed constantly.
In the time that followed her illness Scarlett noticed a change in Rhett and she was not altogether certain that she liked it. He was sober and quiet and preoccupied. He was at home more often for supper now and he was kinder to the servants and more affectionate to Wade and Ella. He never referred to anything in their past, pleasant or otherwise, and silently seemed to dare her to bring up such subjects. Scarlett held her peace, for it was easier to let well enough alone, and life went on smoothly enough, on the surface. His impersonal courtesy toward her that had begun during her convalescence continued and he did not fling softly drawled barbs at her or sting her with sarcasm. She realized now that though he had infuriated her with his malicious comments and roused her to heated rejoinders, he had done it because he cared what she did and said. Now she wondered if he cared about anything she did. He was polite and disinterested and she missed his interest, perverse though it had been, missed the old days of bickering and retort.
The End Cometh:
“Out of it all I find only two things that remain and they are the two things you hate the most–pity and an odd feeling of kindness.”
Pity! Kindness! “Oh, my God,” she thought despairingly. Anything but pity and kindness. Whenever she felt these two emotions for anyone, they went hand in hand with contempt. Was he contemptuous of her too? Anything would be preferable to that. Even the cynical coolness of the war days, the drunken madness that drove him the night he carried her up the stairs, his hard fingers bruising her body, or the barbed drawling words that she now realized had covered a bitter love. Anything except this impersonal kindness that was written so plainly in his face.
Don’t Give a Damn:
“Scarlett, I was never one to patiently pick up broken fragments and glue them together and tell myself that the mended whole was as good as new. What is broken is broken–and I’d rather remember it as it was at its best than mend it and see the broken places as long as I lived. Perhaps, if I were younger–” he sighed. “But I’m too old to believe in such sentimentalities as clean slates and starting all over. I’m too old to shoulder the burden of constant lies that go with living in polite disillusionment. I couldn’t live with you and lie to you and I certainly couldn’t lie to
myself. I can’t even lie to you now. I wish I could care what you do or where you go, but I can’t.”
He drew a short breath and said lightly but softly:
“My dear, I don’t give a damn.”
She knew now that he had meant every word he said, lightly though some of them had been spoken. She knew because she sensed in him something strong, unyielding, implacable–all the qualities she had looked for in Ashley and never found.