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Gone with the Wind


Cathy
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Ahem...now I said I would start this thread I feel under obligation to say something really good and interesting but am not sure I will be up to it...

 

Some of my thoughts on this novel....

...I thought it was really interesting how my feeling towards Scarlett changed through the novel. I suppose its natural to look to sympathise with the protagonists...there isn't much to not sympathise with at first, she likes a guy, she can't have him, its frustrating! The fact she doesn't quite fit into her mother's ideas of how a lady should behave is understandable, especially now we aren't restricted in the same ways. I suppose some readers might say they can sympathise with her taking revenge, but I think her marrying Charles was when I stopped having real sympathy with her... I felt so sorry for him! He didn't sound that bad. Apart from the part about how restrictive the long mourning period was, I felt less and less sympathy for her, and only right at the end did I feel anything for her again. This is so unlike other books which have been called Romance. I don't know if I'd call GWTW a Romance at all. It was more a psychological study...of descent into hell or madness or something!

...the other thing I found interesting was the evolutionary take on it, the survival of the fittest ideas, very ruthless and frightening (Maybe I'm one of the ones Scarlett would have trampled on to get her way to the top of the pile! very likely!)...

...and slavery...this is a big thing in this book, and it was interesting to see a POV of slavery from inside, from the slave owners side and I wonder what sort of opinion Mitchell held on the matter, if all the things about slaves and owners having good relations could be true, and what did happen in the aftermath of the war with the social order turned completely upside down. It was a new thing to have shown that not all slave owners were horrible unfeeling people, I suppose a lot of people just didn't question it. There is never any sense that slavery is wrong but there isn't much racism, well, there is in some ways, the slaves and ex-slaves have different qualities, like Mammy being caring and loyal and things like that, but they are also not given credit for much intelligence. I guess I mean that there is no hate there for the black slaves, no one is afraid of them.

 

I'm sure there is more, but that's for starters!

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One of the things I always found most poignant in GWTW was the fact that Scarlett resented Melanie because of Ashley Wilkes, but Melanie was the only one who really appreciated Scarlett's strength and tough mindedness. During the war they all leaned on Scarlett and expected her to get them through but when they didn't need her that way anymore they all turned on her. Bunch of hypocrites. Except Melanie. Poor Scarlett never realized how much Melanie had been to her until the moment Melanie died.

 

And what the Hell did she ever see in that Ashley Wilkes, anyway? :rolleyes:

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I think Scarlett saw something in Ashley that she didn't conciously recognize but still aspired to. I.E. the old values represented by her mother, who she always feels she has let down. The moment that Scarlett realises her mother is dead is one of the most crucial things for her. It is then that she KNOWS that she has only herself to rely on because the only person in her life who was always there for her has gone. Sadly she never realises that Rhett would have helped her if she had only let him.

Ashley symbolises the old way that can never be regained.

 

Or maybe not, not sure that make sense , hope you can see what I am trying to get at :o

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Well the Rhett explains why she still likes im after the war; he represents the old way of living and embodies the 'perfect southern gentleman'. Well, Scarlett was 'a goose' as she would put it for not realising her feelings for Rhett. But then, if she did love Rhett from the beginning, he would have gotten bored much sooner and then left her or something.

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You might be onto something there Dr S, Rhett has a cruel streak that might just have made him leave her anyway. I thought Scarlett had a crush on Ashley, because he was the only man she couldn't have and couldn't understand and she could put into her idea of him all her ideals.

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I think her marrying Charles was when I stopped having real sympathy with her... I felt so sorry for him!

 

I didn't mind this. She was on the rebound, having just found out that Ashley was going to marry Melanie, and she was only 16. If war hadn't broken out her Pa probably wouldn't have let her marry Charles. He'd have probably said, If you still want to marry him in 6 months time, then all right, but in six days she'd have changed her mind. I also think, if war hadn't broken out, that she'd soon have forgotten Ashley. He was a schoolgirl crush - literally the boy next door - and she would have outgrown him. But she never got a chance to develop along normal paths because she was too busy being bounced from one stressful situation to another.

 

I have a lot of sympathy for Scarlett throughout the book. MM is always talking about her using hunted language - running, running like a fox looking for a hole etc. I think she's a young girl who gets caught up in incidents too big for her and does her best to survive. And as ChrisG says, everyone was keen to lean on her when they needed her.

 

It's interesting that she comes across as unlikeable, because a lot of the things she does are very likeable. She helps out at the hospital, when a lot of 'ladies' won't or can't. She stays in Atlanta to help Melly have her baby, when everyone else runs away. She works in the fields. She finds the money to save Tara, and therefore saves them all from being homeless - and being homeless means death from starvation. She's a survivor.

 

The bit in the middle of the book, where Rhett says that some go to the wall at times of crisis, and they should go to the wall - MM said that was the central theme of the book. When she was a child and wouldn't go to school, her mother (?aunt?) took her to see the old plantations and told her, the people who lived here were waited on hand and foot, and then the war came and they had nothing, only the strength in their hands and the brains in their heads. A woman's strength is worth nothing, she told MM, so go to school, because if hard times come, your brain is all you'll have. Scarlett is the embodiment of this. She's not all that strong, but she uses her wits to survive.

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Well said, Amanda! I always thought Scarlett was great - a real strong-minded, tough survivor who could do whatever needed to be done to survive and keep her friends and family going, too. It has always annoyed me that she is regarded by a lot of people as 'bad' while Melanie, who would have died and lost her baby, too, without Scarlett's help, is always looked upon as the 'good' one. Although, I think Melanie was good, in the fact that she was the only one who truly appreciated Scarlett's efforts and strength.

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Having read GWTW a milllion times over, it is the greatest love story ever! I agree that is difficult to see why Scarlett is so infatuated by Mr Wilkes. Ashley represents everything that Scarlett admires. The way, that through her upbringing she believes she should be. Moral, upstanding... Rhett is her mirror image. He is what she is. Hence the destructive relationship that ensues. 'Scarlett' should never have been attempted let alone written. Leave us with are imaginations...please!!!

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My imagination has been effectivley ruined cause of various things I have read on boards. But I have managed to hang onto the hope that Scarlett will get Rhett back, I am a hopeless romantic and can't stand it when people in love are apart! Of course Rhett still loves her, even though he is hurt, Scarlett will get him back, when has she ever given up? (Apart from trying to be like her mum)

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  • 1 year later...

Rescued thread:

Amyb --- 29th December 2005 11:32 AM

Sorry for the late joining I've only just read it having started in October and oh my god I loved it - just last night I had a dream that Atlanta fell and I had to pack everything in my car. I found this book totally took over my imagination.

 

I would not have classed this as a love story either and I have pitched it as a book on life during the civil war to my boyfriend- who stated "I'm going to read that after you as it is a good sign when you can't put a book down!"

 

I am an eternal optomist and I believe that Scarlett gets Rhett back - how could she not!

Momo --- 2nd January 2006 06:59 PM

I have read this book ages ago - at around the same time I watched it in the cinema for the first time. I love this story, book or movie, both are great. I must have watched this movie at least a dozen time in the cinema (in the pre-video-time). It was also the first movie I watched in English. I have always wanted to re-read the book, maybe now would be the thime. :)

megustaleer --- 2nd January 2006 10:33 PM

I haven't read the book, but watched the film for the first time yesterday afternoon, and enjoyed it more than I expected (it even brought a lump to the throat and moisture to the eye at times!)

 

I didn't find the film very convincing when dealing with Rhett's decision that it was all over,- and what a time to leave! I hope the book gives the reader a better idea of what he was feeling.

 

Scarlett doesn't deserve to have him back, but would he be happy without her? He seemed fairly definite about it!

megustaleer --- 2nd January 2006 10:38 PM

I haven't read the book, but watched the film for the first time yesterday afternoon, and enjoyed it more than I expected (it even brought a lump to the throat and moisture to the eye at times!)

 

I didn't find the film very convincing when dealing with Rhett's decision that it was all over,- and what a time to leave! I hope the book gives the reader a better idea of what he was feeling.

 

Scarlett doesn't deserve to have him back, but would he be happy without her? He seemed fairly definite about it!

Dr. Strangelove --- 3rd January 2006 12:51 AM

It was on TV the other day I didn't watch it but I was glad it was on in the hope that people sitting around with families would watch it and love it!! When I first saw it I knew of its reputation of long and boring but I found myself totally sucked in and enjoying every moment.

 

The ending I hated the book was a little more informative and had more details but I can see why he left her, as he said, *I think* that they were in love at different times and that it was her misfortune. Heartbreaking when they have been through so much! The book is definatley better than the film and has more things in it than the film.

 

Scarlett and Rhett belong together!

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I have always loved the book and the film. The saddest part for me, especially in the film as Vivienne Leigh acts it so well, is the morning after he's carried her up that staircase and ...well, you know. She wakes up, stretches languorously and has a huge smile on her face only for it to be wiped off when Rhett comes in and announces he 'won't trouble her no more'. Can they never 'coincide'?

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Oh no the saddest part is when he....and then she..... and the baby.....and when Bonny........

 

The great pity of Scarlett is that her wild, feisty,sensual Irish heritage clashes with her mother's ideals and her priveliged southern upbringing. When I read the book and discovered the other children and her ease in producing them (contrasted with Melly's difficulties) and Scarlett's physical and mental tenacity, her earthiness and humanity I loved her all the more. She is,for me, one of the truly great heroines flaws and all.

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I think that's what makes her so true, her flaws are real. She goes through so much but still is strong. There are quite a few sad moments in the book, and yet Scarlett conquers them all. I am sure she will get Rhett back - but I refuse to read that so-called "follow-up" Scarlett (as I do with any sequels written by somebody else).

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discovered the other children and her ease in producing them (contrasted with Melly's difficulties) and Scarlett's physical and mental tenacity, her earthiness and humanity I loved her all the more. She is,for me, one of the truly great heroines flaws and all.

 

 

What other children elfstar? I know I read quickly but not that quickly.

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  • 4 months later...

I'm reading this just now, and really enjoying rediscovering it. (I read it as a teeager and have seen the film many times - one of the few films that my mum and I both love!)

 

I feel more sympathy for Scarlett than some others. I think that, because Scarlett is the central character, we are told her feelings and motivations, but only her perceptions of the feelings and motivations of others. The women are all brought up to be perfect ladies, so who knows how they really feel? Maybe at heart many of them are just as selfish and resentful as Scarlett, but just don't have the guts to take action. She's a complex and flawed character, but I don't find her reprehensible.

I admire her for defying the social constraints of her day and pursuing what she wanted. Was it so bad to marry Charles? He died happy and a father. Ok, so she was happy to steal the "beaux" of other girls, but I think they would do the same. (Maybe stealing her sister's man was a bit much, right enough!) She stuck by Melly and saved Tara.

 

I'm also enjoying the social history aspects of the novel; this is one of the main advantages of the novel over the film for me.

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Just finished rereading GWTW last week for my reading group. I didn't attend due to a business trip. Here's my blog entry:

 

Pulitzer Prize Winner 1936

 

I have a general rule - film tie-in covers are to be avoided. Yet I have no argument with the classic image from a classic film on the cover of this classic novel - it is an icon after all!

 

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I first read this in my teens and my great memories have been fed in the intervening decades with periodic viewings of the film. That would appear to be a common experience for several in my reading group requested a reread.

 

Arguably the first blockbuster (it has sold more than 38 million copies) Gone with the Wind at 1010 pages is long .... very long ... too long?

 

It is essentially the tale of a tormented love triangle: Scarlett's unrequited love for Ashley, Rhett's unrequited love for Scarlett and ultimately Scarlett's unrequited love for Rhett. As a teenage I enjoyed the Rhett/Scarlett cat and mouse games but, in middle age, I tired of Scarlett's emotional scotoma around page 600. The green-eyed independent Southern belle, a spirited heroine to be admired when I was 17, is a selfish, heartless, unintelligent little madam. Like Rhett, at the end I couldn't give a damn about her predicament although I find myself debating whether the monster was created by the circumstances or by Rhett himself.

 

To reduce Gone with The Wind to romantic saga is to render it a great disservice. Set against the backdrop of the American Civil War and defeat of the South, military tactics and the corruption of scallawags, carpetbaggers and the administration during the Reconstruction of Georgia is laid out in all its fascinating and inglorious detail. So too are the effects on the population - the men who died, the women who survived and the slaves or "darkies" who were freed.

 

This brings us to the controversial elements of the novel. There is no doubt that Mitchell's portrayal is a patriotic pro-Confederate stance. The Southerners are also pro-slavery ... which is only to be expected. Anything else woud destroy the historical context of the novel. But does Gone With the Wind cross the line and become racist? There is evidence for this: the dimwittedness of the "darkies", who form a threatening anonymous mass after the war. And does Mitchell go so far as to endorse the formation of the KKK? On the other hand, when the negroes are named, they are honourable people who form a backbone of society. Think Mammy. Think Uncle Peter.

 

However there are those who are not so ambivalent as myself. AliceRandall says her book, The Wind Done Gone, is a form of political protest, an “antidote to the poison” of racism in Gone With the Wind. “I wrote this book so that Gone With the Wind would no longer sit on the shelf unanswered, so that young black girls who were damaged by that book, as I was, would have somewhere to turn,” she says. “To create a literary parody is to derive the most absurd thing possible from the original text, and that is what I have created in Cynara—an intelligent black woman.”

 

For those who wish to follow the further adventures of Scarlett and Rhett there are 848 pages of the authorised sequel Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. Personally, I'll be leaving Scarlett in her mansion in Peachtree Street, Atlanta, the street, where unfortunately her creator met her demise. Margaret Mitchell was struck by a speeding automobile on Peachtree Street in 1949. She died 5 days later.

 

-------------------

Looking forward to feedback - particularly from Minxminnie. ;)

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Looking forward to feedback - particularly from Minxminnie. ;)

 

I will return, Lizzy! I'm on holiday just now and have come into an internet caff to do some emails. Couldn't resist a peek on BGO.

I'm nearly halfway through the book - I've left Scarlett asleep on her first night back at Tara, after a good few slugs of whiskey. I'm hooked, and only left it behind because I thought it might distract me from my holiday, which is quite active!

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I'm nearly halfway through the book - I've left Scarlett asleep on her first night back at Tara, after a good few slugs of whiskey. I'm hooked,

That could have made such a different sentence if the punctuation was changed. "I've left Scarlett asleep on her first night back at Tara. After a good few slugs of whiskey, I'm hooked." :)

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I have a general rule - film tie-in covers are to be avoided. Yet I have no argument with the classic image from a classic film on the cover of this classic novel - it is an icon after all!
Oh, I don't like a book with the cover of a movie. The trouble is, if you buy it after the movie is out, you often don't get another one.

 

It's been ages since I read GWTW but it is one of those books that I definitely want to read again. So I can't tell you whether I still enjoy it as much as about 30 years ago. However, I am never scared of large books, I enjoy them more than the short ones. And a tale like this one needs to be long, you couldn't just put all those stories and the history of that time on 500 pages, there just wouldn't be enough space.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I'm still getting there with GWTW; I keep interspersing it with other things.

 

I am finding the racism of the latter half hard going. Yes, LizzyS, I think she is endorsing the formation of the KKK.

 

There is a big chunk in chapter 37 which is pure polemic, ranting on about the way that the Yankees have raised the expectations of the field hands who, to her, are savage, brutal and unworthy of respect. She abandons all attempts at narrative voice and drifts into social history, from a very prejudiced perspective. It doesn't seem to have occurred to her that, if the freed slaves were "uppity", maybe they had good reason to be. Even Rhett's murder of a black man - because he was rude to a lady - is presented as acceptable, if a bit daring. If this was Scarlett's opinions, I could tolerate it, but it's Mitchell's.

 

From this perspective, the idea of the KKK is inevitable - a group of white men protecting their womenfolk and their property. So far, I've not seen any criticism of their motives, only of the Yankees for trying to control them. It makes me very uncomfortable to read it, but I'm persevering as I'm so far in that I want to see how it develops.

I've also put Alice Randall's book on my wishlist: The Wind Done Gone, a parody from the point of view of a black woman - Scarlett's half sister.

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If this was Scarlett's opinions, I could tolerate it, but it's Mitchell's.
Of course they were hers, those prejudices have kept on in the South for more than a century, there are still there, according to many American friends.
From this perspective, the idea of the KKK is inevitable - a group of white men protecting their womenfolk and their property. So far, I've not seen any criticism of their motives, only of the Yankees for trying to control them.
There wouldn't be criticism, would it. They didn't think they were in the wrong.
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Finished this morning.

 

I got very weary of Scarlett as the book went on. Like LizzyS, I thought she got what she deserved in the end.

The social history was fascinating, but quite repetitive. A good editor could cut the book by about a third without losing anything.

 

I think the real strength of the novel was the vast cast of characters. Some of the monor characters, which don't make the film, were great. I'll miss the book - I've lived with it for a couple of months now!

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