Scarlett enjoys her honeymoon with Rhett in New Orleans. Rhett introduces her to his friends, whom Scarlett likes because they are rich, extravagant and exciting. Rhett tells her that they are rascals who made their money during the war by speculating in food or out of dubious government contracts. The “nice” people are starving. Rhett teases her about her tendency always “to pick the wrong people and the wrong things.”
Rhett allows Scarlett to spend as much money as she likes. Scarlett discovers that being married to Rhett is different from being married to Charles or Frank: Rhett is not frightened of her and often seems not to respect her much, either. He sometimes treats her with tenderness and at other times mocks her. While Scarlett learns much about his manner, however, she remains blind to who he really is.
One night, Scarlett has her old nightmare: she is hungry and cold and running through a mist after something she cannot name but that would make her feel safe if she could find it. Rhett comforts her and reassures her that she will get used to feeling safe with him.
Rhett tells Scarlett that he has invested his ex-Confederate money in Yankee government bonds. He adds that he will give her all the money she wants for the extravagant house she wants to build and for herself. But he will not give her anything to support the store or her mills, because he does not want to support Ashley. However, he wants her to continue running them and eventually to hand them on to her children.
The ladies who gather at Melanies house decide to exclude Scarlett from Old Southern society because they disapprove of her. India Wilkes is still smarting from her memories of Scarletts stealing Stuart Tarletons affections from her and Charles affections from her sister Honey. India also suspects that Scarlett has ensnared Ashley. She publicly accuses Scarlett of killing Frank and of having an affair with Rhett before Franks death. Melanie fiercely defends Scarlett, saying that she and Ashley owe their lives to her, and that many of the ladies present owe their mens lives to Rhett. She says that anyone who refuses to call on Scarlett is no longer welcome in her house.
Rhett knows that the few visitors he and Scarlett receive only come because of Melanies threats. Scarlett is not concerned at the lack of Old Southern callers, partly because she has many Yankee visitors who have grown wealthy from the collapse of the South (“new people”), and partly because she is busy supervising the building of her opulent new house. The house is brash and showy, reflecting Scarletts taste. Rhett is contemptuous of her choice of d?cor and new friends, but he indulges her and pays the bills. He warns her that she will regret ignoring Old Southern society when the Democrats get back into power, but Scarlett thinks they will never get back.
Scarlett loves being rich. She throws a housewarming party and invites all her old and new friends. Though many of Scarletts new friends come, only a few of the Old Southern people turn up, and they leave as soon as the Republican Governor Bullock arrives.
Scarlett has the feeling that Rhett is watching her and waiting, though for what, she does not know. He treats her with suave indifference.
One day, Scarlett learns with horror that she is pregnant. She tells Rhett that she wants to abort the baby, but he forbids it, as she could die; he once saw a woman die having an abortion.
Scarlett gives birth to a girl. Rhett is overjoyed. For the first time, Mammy puts on a red silk petticoat that Rhett bought her on his honeymoon.
Much to everybodys amazement, Rhett immediately shows himself to be an adoring and indulgent father to his daughter. The baby is named Eugenie Victoria, but Melanie notes that her eyes are the same blue as the “bonnie blue” Confederate flag, and Rhett nicknames her Bonnie Blue. The name sticks and nobody calls her anything else.
Analysis of Chapter 48-50
Rhett shows himself to be far more perceptive about social and political trends than Scarlett when he warns her against cultivating her new Yankee friends at the expense of the Old Southern ones. Rhett, who owes his success to always being one step ahead of events, knows that the Democrats will soon be back in power, but Scarlett lacks the sensitivity and foresight to see anything that is not immediately in front of her.
Scarlett is blind also to Rhetts emotional life. He keeps his feelings well hidden and the reader knows little more of them than Scarlett does. But the narrators frequent references to his watching his wife as if waiting for something hint at an emotional hunger that is not being satisfied. We infer that he is waiting for a sign that Scarlett loves him, but he never receives it. Scarlett, of course, still believes that she loves Ashley.
That Rhett loves Scarlett and is waiting for her to love him is suggested by his extravagant outpouring of love for their baby girl, Bonnie Blue. It is as if all his dammed-up emotion is spilling over into Bonnie. With Bonnie – even, to a lesser extent, with Wade – Rhett is transformed from a cynic to a loving parent. All his latent kindness, warmth and respect is awakened and devoted to Bonnie.
Rhetts transformation into a warm and loving human being is symbolically underscored by Mammys actions following the birth. Previously, she had called him “trash” and a “mule in hawse harness” and had refused to wear the red silk petticoat he bought her in New Orleans. But Rhett delights Mammy by his ecstatic response to the birth of his daughter, at a time when most men of his class wanted sons and heirs and viewed the arrival of girls as a misfortune. Afterwards, she proudly puts on the red silk petticoat and calls him “Mist Rhett” instead of her customary more formal “Capn Butler.” The petticoat is red, a warm color symbolizing love and passion, and it is a present from Rhett, so for Mammy to wear it shows her acceptance of his love for the baby and his affection for herself.
In these chapters, for the first time, children are brought to the fore. Though Scarlett gave birth to Wade in Chapter 7, neither he nor Ella has made much of an impression on her except as irritants and obstacles to her work. The sudden focus on the intense relationship between Rhett and the children emphasizes by contrast how little Scarlett had cared for them. The children provide a context in which Rhetts fine qualities of heart can be seen. We see how happy he and Scarlett could be together if he trusted her not to punish him for loving her, and if she could transfer to him some of the tender appreciation she shows for Ashley.