- Author: Margaret Mitchell (1900 – 1949)
- Title: Gone With the Wind
- Published: 1936
- Timeline: 12 years ( 1861 – 1873)
- Table of contents: 1037 pages (Kindle book)
- Genre: historical fiction
- Movement: realism – attempts to describe the Old South realistically
- Theme: war destroys in an hour what took a lifetime to build
- Theme: adapt vs defeated – rich vs poor – Old South vs New South
- Title: Line in the poem “Cynara” Ernest Dowson.
- “I have forgot thee. Cynara! gone with the wind, / Flung roses, roses, riotous with the throng.”
- Trivia: This book was honored with the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937.
- Trivia: Film Gone With the Wind won 10 Oscars
- Trivia: Hattie McDaniel, who plays the larger than life figure of Mammy,
- was the first black actor to win an Oscar, that for best supporting actress
- January 19: Georgia secedes
- February 4: Georgia and 5 other states form Confederate States of America
- February 18: Jefferson Davis president of Confederate States of America
- March 4: Lincoln inaugurated
- April 12: Southern forces fire on Fort Sumter. Civil War Begins
- April 16: BBQ at Twelve Oaks plantation
Structure: Part 1: description of the Old South plantations, families, people, places.
- Part 1 connects the reader to the main story by giving them the background information.
- Gerald and Ellen’s characteristics (Irish/French) are blended into Scarlett’s ‘complex personality’.
- Family backrounds:
- Gerald (Irish fiery temperament)
- Ellen Rouillard (French manners from Georgia ’s calm coastal shore.)
- Characterization: Mammy…face like a thundercloud; her dialect “ack lak a lil lady’
- ….Mammy – I just loved her character and cracker-barrel, homespun wisdom!
- Characterization of Ellen Rouillbard Scarlett’s mother….
- She had confused her mother with the Virgin Mary…[…]
- she represented the utter security that only Heaven or a mother can give. (pg 60)
- Setting: North Georgia full of colors and personification.
- Fields of fresh-cut furrows, sunsets, skies, flowers, trees, fauna.
- Weak point: endless inner dialogue about Scarlett’s unrequited love for Ashley.
Symbol: Georgia pines, wilderness, dark forests
On page 8 we read a threat: (foreshadowing…)
- The pines seeming to wait with an age-old patience to threaten with soft sighs…
- “Be careful! be careful! We had you once. We can take you back again. “
- What does this threat mean?
- Scarlett sees the wilderness encircling the lands as a destruction of all she has worked for, Tara.
- “In another year, there will be little pines all over these fields,
- she thought and looking toward the encircling forests, she shuddered.” (pg 495)
- Out of a wilderness her family built a civilization.
- ” South, the Confederacy, Cotton Kingdom,
- it’s breaking up right under our feet.” (pg 193)
- …and now civilization (war) is turning it all back to a wilderness.
Characters: Atlanta – Tara – Society – War …..how do they change?
Atlanta – seat of aristocracy (1837 Terminus, 1843 Marthaville, 1847 Atlanta)
Tara – Old South traditions
Society: master and slave roles are firmly in place
War: 1861 – Atlanta: “pulsing of the town’s heart pumping materials for war up the arteries of two battle fronts.” (pg 146)
Atlanta – Sherman marches on Atlanta and leaves it a smoldering ruin (1864)
Tara – Scarlett returns to ravaged Tara, blackened stones, once proud symbol of Old South.
Society: women are taking on important roles, while the men are fighting, dying.
War: 1864 – “ bitter-eyed women who looked backwards to dead times, dead men […] But Scarlett was never to look back.” (pg 428)
Atlanta – rebuilding Atlanta (1868) new industry
Tara – Rhett offers to rebuild Tara
Society: – reconstruction (1865-1877)
War: 1865 R.E. Lee surrenders at Appomattox (April 8th)
Strong point: Ashley: “like a door that had neither lock nor key” (pg 27)
- He is an example of the voice of Margaret Mitchell. (Part 2, ch 11)
- This strong sentiment cannot be felt in the movie version
- ….this is personal and best evoked in letters.
- Letters: (pg 210-212) reveal the voice of MM about war, the South and it’s future.
- Ashley fears the Cause was lost the minute the first shot was fired.
- Ashley fears the old ways of the South are gone forever, win or lose the war.
- Ashely fears he will never fit into the future.
- Ashley fears the South had nothing with which to wage war but cotton and arrogance.
Powerful narrative: pg 527 – 535 (part 4, ch 31)
- Ashely realizes his Old South civilization was….Gone with the Wind.
- Ashley finally admits he loves Scarlett, yet she realizes…
- hospitality, honor, loyalty (Melanie/ Beau) meant more to Ashley than she did.
- ” the bleak realization came over me (Ashley) that my own private shadow show was over.
- My inner world was gone, invaded by people whose thoughts were not my thoughts,
- whose actions were as alien as a Hottentot’s.”
Strong point: Scarlett:
- She was rather shallow, self-centered individual.
- But she finds new depths and strength within herself.
- Part 2, ch 10: Scarlett mentions 2 x that she is sickened to be defended by someone she dislikes so much (Melly).
- Part 3, ch 26: Scarlett see Melly standing with Charles’ saber at the top to the stairs ready to kill…
- “Why she’s just like me! […] Now struggling against hatred for Ashely’s wife, there surged a feeling of admiration.”
- Scarlett is the most important symbol in the book: renewal.
- Her motto resounds as clear today as it did in 1936.
- Scarlett insists, “After all, tomorrow is another day.” (Part 5, ch 63 pg 1037)
Rhett Butler: Best quote: “My dear, I don’t give a damn”.
Surprises: Hollywood left out a number of characters in the movie version!
- Wade Hampton Hamilton and Will Benteen are two characters appearing in Margaret Mitchell’s novel,
- but notably absent from the 1939 motion! (…or did I just not see them?)
- Did I miss yet another child …Scarlett and Frank Kennedy’s baby girl named Ella Lorena?
- Who is Archie, the one-legged ex-murderer?
- This was a sweeping historical fiction book about The Civil War.
- Mitchell reveals through her narrative how relationships were reversed as a result 1861-1865.
- rich and poor – penniless Rhett becomes one of the richest men ( blockade runner)
- male and female – Scarlett becomes business woman running a saw mill
- master and slave – Rhett is jailed for killing a freed slave who insulted a white woman.
- Story line is driven by one of the best known love triangles:
- Scarlett (blinded by love) – Rhett (hides his love) – Ashley (torn between two loves)
- Last thoughts:
- Gone with the Wind is the greatest movie ever made and my # 1 favorite film.
- Not only is it a splendid piece of cinema, which won ten Oscars ,
- but also recreated the Old South as a vanished civilization.
- Point for discussion: GWTW is not commentary on today’s racial relations
- …but the perceptions Southerners had at that time. (150+ years ago)
- Strong point: Mammy…face like a thundercloud; her dialect “ack lak a lil lady’
- I just loved the character and her cracker-barrel, homespun wisdom!
- Strong point: swept away by the ‘love triangle’
- Strong point: slowly see the changes taking place in the Old South.
- Strong point: chapter 63..the best final chapter in a novel I have ever read! Riveting!