Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone With The Wind, Margaret Mitchell. [preface by Pat Conroy, 75th anniversary edition]. New York: Simon & Schuster/ Pocket Books, 2007 and 1936, 1032 pps.

Gone With The Wind is a true classic. I read it some years ago when I was younger and more idealistic. I missed a lot the first time through.

The book left me to wonder about how the slaves felt about the Civil War and about the origins of the K.K.K. I never thought about how a black slave might have considered himself or herself better than "white trash" or how field slaves had less status than house slaves.

I didn't remember from my reading of this historical novel in earlier years what a selfish and deplorable being Scarlette was. Nor did I recall what a tortured creature Rhett was. Gone With The Wind is often characterized as a love story. I really don't think it was that. There are a few people I know who borrowed Scarlette's life script whole and some others who borrowed parts of it. Scarlette was to me a gold digger. Rhett was a foreshadowing of a mafioso wannabe. I've known a couple of Rhetts also.

Most notable to me was Scarlette's ability to push away unpleasant thoughts and upsetting situations from her brain. Tomorrow never comes. Those experiences which we refuse to deal with today become true heavy-hitters later on in our lives.

sapphoq reviews says: I liked the ending of Gone With The Wind but I didn't like the preface written by Pat Conroy. Times were different then and life was harder for sure. There are some things that I am glad that I missed out on.

I am not sure of the suitability of this book for pre-teen readers. I suspect those in high school will miss many of the subtle nuances in this book unless there is the careful guidance of a teacher or other adults. There are some adult issues presented-- abortions and miscarriages, both mental and physical adultery, the politics of slavery and Reconstruction.

p.s.  To black readers (and others) who find the use of certain words and the existence of certain sympathies in the book, I can only understand bits of it. But I am sorry for those things on your behalf nonetheless. My relatives came to the United States some years after slavery so I have no "white person's guilt" for that. Had they been living in the south pre-Civil War, would my relatives been "owners" of other human beings? [If they had the money]. Probably. They were 'good Christian folk' and the 'good Christian folk' of that time period used the Good Book to justify their actions. We are but products of time and geography. It is the rarefied human being who thinks and evaluates on his or her own. Maybe that is not entirely true. Perhaps I am my own victim of a cynical day waiting for yet another foot or more of snow to dump itself upon us once again. Le Sigh.

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