No matter how old she gets or how many times she remarries, Scarlett remains a child at heart. As the film opens, she resents serious matters such as sickness or war, merely seeing them as impediments to having fun. Even when she grows more accepting of life’s practicalities, Scarlett insists on being the center of attention. She steals from other people whenever it suits her, taking Charles from India, Frank from Suellen, and all the servants from her sisters at Tara without any thought for the feelings of others. Even Scarlett’s long quest for Ashley, supposedly the great love of her life, is rooted in her desire to steal him away from another woman.

Scarlett’s appeal lies in her limitless internal resources. She throws herself into the backbreaking physical toil she despises in order to keep Tara going and sells goods to the Yankees she hates in order to make her business a success, always doing whatever she must to emerge victorious. Not even the loss of her loved ones holds her back. It is only after finding out about her mother’s death and her father’s madness that she resolves to save Tara, and after Bonnie’s death that she finally welcomes the idea of having more children. When Rhett walks out the door, leaving her without a shred of hope, she cries only for a moment before resolving to win him back, a necessary first step as she attempts to reconquer her world.