This last section opens with Scarlett and Rhett in New Orleans on their honeymoon. Scarlett is enjoying herself amongst all the carpet-baggers and scallawags, but old Atlanta will never forgive her. Melly will defend Scarlett to the last, and she is a formidable ally, but even so, when Scarlett holds a fancy ball none of the old guard attend. She has made herself a pariah.
Scarlett and Rhett have a baby girl, the beautiful Bonnie. She is adored by her father and is easily Scarlett's favourite child - not that that's saying much because she has very little time for Wade and Ella. Rhett realises that if Bonnie is to be accepted into society (and this is suddenly very important to him), he will have to make himself acceptable to the likes of the Merriweathers and the Elsings. So he sets out to woo them, which Scarlett finds incomprehensible.
Scarlett is very clear that she doesn't love Rhett, and it is clear to the reader that Rhett does love Scarlett. He doesn't tell her and Scarlett is not good at reading between the lines. After Bonnie's birth she decides she doesn't want any more children and so tells him that she will no longer be sleeping with him. He doesn't seem to care too much.
Two tragedies dominate the last section of the book. The death of Bonnie in a riding accident and the death of Melly due to a miscarriage. Bonnie's death breaks Rhett, he is completely devastated. Scarlett blames him and really it is the final blow for their already shaky relationship. Melly's death is almost a bitterer blow for Scarlett. It's as if a light goes on in her brain and she suddenly sees the true worth of Melly. She understands how much she has relied on Melly, and also how much Ashley has relied on Melly. She realises that her love for Ashley was a fantasy, based on her romantic imaginings of who Ashley is. She also realises that she loves Rhett and rushes to tell him so. However it is too late, the love he had for her has gone. But in true Scarlett style she refuses to be defeated - she will find a way tomorrow.
I have loved re-reading Gone With The Wind and thank you to Erin at The Heroine's Bookshelf for hosting the readalong. I am wondering however, after reading it again, is Melly the real heroine of the book? Perhaps not, but I think she's just as much a heroine as Scarlett.