Mitchell's use of color in the novel is symbolic and open to interpretation. Red, green, and a variety of hues of each of these colors, are the predominant palette of colors encompassing the character of Scarlett. She is also inextricably linked to white by the color of her skin. Symbolically, red and green have been broadly defined to mean "vitality" (red) and "rebirth" (green), but these are not the only meanings. Mitchell interwove the two colors into her description of the Tara plantation: "red fields with springing green cotton". The red fields are "blood-colored after rains". The whitewashed brick plantation house is virtually nondescript by comparison to the plantation fields and sits like an island in a sea of red. In springtime, the lawn around the plantation house turns emerald green.
For the Irish and others, green in the novel represents Mitchell's commemoration of her "Green Irish heritage", and is evidenced in the novel by Gerald O'Hara pridefully singing, albeit off-key, "The Wearin 'o the Green". Scarlett's green-coded Irishness is the strength that ensures she will thrive post-war. Rhett likens Scarlett's strength to the mythological figure Antaeus who stays strong only when he is in contact with his Mother Earth. Scarlett's mythical mother is Tara.
Scarlett is not all green as her name implies the "erotically-charged color", red. The only openly scarlet woman in the novel is the red-headed Belle Watling, whose hair is "too red to be true". Mammy is reluctant to reveal her red petticoat to Rhett, nevertheless she has sexual knowledge akin to Belle Watling. Scarlett, whom Mitchell pits against the grim realities of war, "prostitutes" herself to pay the taxes on Tara. By her name, Scarlett evokes emotions and images of the color scarlet: "blood, passion, anger, sexuality, madness".