Rhett: “Take a good look my dear. It’s a historic moment. You can tell your grandchildren about how you watched the Old South fall one night.”
Rhett makes this statement as he and Scarlett watch Atlanta burn. Though the destruction of Atlanta dealt a major blow to the Confederacy, Rhett isn’t making a comment on the North’s military success. Instead, Rhett is talking about the end of the ideals the Old South stood for, the way of life that Ashley clings to, a South that is “no more than a dream remembered.” As the characters discuss at the barbeque at the Twelve Oaks plantation, the chief advantages the South had during the war were independence and pride. It didn’t matter that it had fewer resources or less military strongholds than the North. The South had a far more civilized society, and as long as they were fighting for its more graceful, dignified way of life it was impossible for the South to lose. In fact, many were so convinced of the South’s security they thought the war would end in a few weeks, barely enough time for the season to change on the plantations or for the beautiful Southern belles to become lonely.