What I’ve Read: “Gone With the Wind”

In my very early teens, I remember “Gone With the Wind” was the movie I’d always choose to watch on Sundays when I was home sick and the rest of my family went to church. But it was probably a decade since I last watched it, so when I found the book at a thrift shop I couldn’t resist and I finished it in mid-April.

Yes, the book is intimidating because it’s so long but it really is not too bad difficulty-wise. I felt like the hardest part was reading the dialogue by slaves just because it’s written very phonetically.

scarlett2

So I had to slow down a little bit for that. But other than that it was an easy read.

This school year I taught 11th grade English so we were going through American Literature a

nd I’m really disappointed that found this book so late in the year. It provides remarkable insight into Southern attitudes during the Civil War.

I had the opportunity to visit Gettysburg a few years ago, and it was just so hard. Born and raised in

the Western U.S., there wasn’t much emotion involved in the school units on the Civil War. Visiting Gettysburg and seeing so many monuments to fallen Confederate leaders was just…odd. I had never been around people who were so passionate about their heritage and so pro-Confederacy (we were there with my great-uncle who is very much ‘The South will rise again!’). That was one of my biggest takeaways from the trip: so much emotion from the Southerners that I couldn’t quite put my finger on.

Reading Gonscarlett1e With the Wind, I feel like I totally understand the sentiment now. Reconstruction was something we barely touched on in school, but so much of the book is dedicated to post-Civil War times and it really helps to understand what it was like.

But history geekiness aside, let’s just talk about what an incredible character Scarlett O’Hara is.

Scarlett is a phenomenal example of an antihero. In literature, an antihero is a protagonist who lacks conventional heroic attributes. Rather than being morally upright and brave in the face of danger, Scarlett is willing to forego her morals in order to achieve success. Despite her family and friends urging her not to, Scarlett purposefully hires convicts to run her steel mill because the cost of labor is lower. She even goes so far as to hire a questionable foreman because he yields good results, and Scarlett feels like the ends justify the means.

As Scarlett is the narrator, the reader is in her mind and knows all of her motivations, The reader then has a front row seat to watch as she’s able to downplay her motivations manipulate and deceive other people masterfully. She steals her sister’s fiancee just to gain access to his money, and then is able to complete shut out any feelings of guilt she might have about it. Scarlett is fiercely independent and stubborn and displays so many qualities that contemporary audiences yearn for in their strong female characters. There’s no denying that Scarlett is a strong female character–and as much as I would never want to befriends with her in real life, I can’t deny how hard I was rooting for her to succeed.

The relationship between Rhett and Scarlett was poignant and beautiful. It was full of tension and drama, as well as growth for both characters. The exploration of parenthood in both of them was a level of character development that most romance novels don’t begin to cover.

In short, it’s not a short read but it’s a GOOD read. On my last trip to the thrift store, I found the sequel and it’s currently on my bookshelf but I haven’t read it yet. I don’t want to ruin a good thing,and the ending of the book was pretty perfect.

Have you read Gone With the Wind? Have you read the sequel? What are your thoughts? Drop a comment below!

 

 

 

9 comments

    • Thank you! One of my favorite components (and I didn’t mention it above because it’s so controversial) is how unashamedly they discuss the KKK. Characters that we have invested several hundred pages in are revealed to be part of the KKK and it really brings a real world perspective to this ideology that’s completely lost on people who didn’t grow up in this region. It was real and it was full of raw emotion, even if these characters were on the wrong side of history. It validated so many emotions that people from the South are still struggling with today and it made me take more notice in the news as they start to remove items of the Confederacy from the South.

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      • YES. I actually tried to put the same sentiment into words at my place recently, which is hard to do. I wanted to step lightly while still acknowledging that the war for Southerners, right or wrong, was a very different war from the one the Northerners fought, and the legacy of it is still in the South today. I think it’s important to understand where people are coming from. They lost, and that sense of loss lived on, right or wrong. I feel that a lot of people believe that Mitchell wrote from that perspective because she was racist. I don’t actually believe that at all. I think she wrote from that perspective because that’s what happened, from a Southern perspective. She was a journalist and was presenting truth, from the Southern perspective. Understanding that truth often has opposing perspectives is {in my humble opinions} a part of wisdom.

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      • YES! Exactly! On my copy of the book, the back cover of the book talked about how it wasn’t until Mitchell was in her teens that she even realized that the South lost the war. That, to me, just shows how emotional this topic is to the South and how strong and enduring that legacy is. Mitchell’s writing was authentic and didn’t apologize for it, and I think it’s that honesty that I feel like a lot of historical fiction is lacking in. I don’t think that Mitchell was racist, she just had a deep firsthand knowledge of those attitudes and driving forces. I absolutely agree–it’s a part of wisdom.

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  1. I bought this book on a whim a few years ago and read it before ever seeing the movie. (Took me about 3 months of on-and-off reading to finish it.). Epic novels like this aren’t really published anymore; these novels are the spiritual successors of the epic poem (think The Iliad and The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy, Paradise Lost, Beowulf), and I like to think of Gone with the Wind as a more contemporary (well, contemporary as compared to the likes of Homer) epic. Personally, I liked the book better than the movie (mostly because there was so much that had to be cut in order to make a smoothly-running film, namely Scarlett’s two kids from each of her first two husbands).

    Thank you, by the way, for following my blog!

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    • I love that comparison- a contemporary epic is a great way to put it. I completely agree- losing out on Scarlett’s first 2 children is really a shame, but I can’t fault the producers. It’s a lengthy film as it is!

      You’re welcome! I loved what I got a chance to read on your page and I look forward to more in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

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