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.
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 Gone 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!