Originally Posted by WT Sharpe
Ashley's and Rhett's opinions on the war appear to have been identical, but their responses were worlds apart. Why was that, and what was the real reason Rhett joined the Confederate Army only when it became apparent to everyone that it was a losing cause?
My view is that Ashley fought in the war because he always did what was expected of him and never wanted to disappoint. Everyone saw him in a certain light and he lived his life up to those expectations regardless of what he truly believed.
I think Rhett joined for similar reasons but it was only one person's respect he was truly seeking - Scarlett's. As soon as he realized the depth of his feelings for her he ran off to enlist. He knew despite her pleas for him to stay with her that he would never be able to compete with the myth of Ashley (and remember Ashley was a prisoner of war, a hero and possibly another martyr for the cause at this point) without being able to say that he fought in the war. As it turned out it was a wise investment since it ultimately facilitated his quest for respectability among the southerners.