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Old 03-01-2010, 09:48 AM   #46
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I just bought it (very behind), hopefully I'll finish it before the discussion ends..
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Old 03-01-2010, 09:54 AM   #47
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I just bought it (very behind), hopefully I'll finish it before the discussion ends..

Or you and I can discuss it later.
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:00 AM   #48
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I just bought it (very behind), hopefully I'll finish it before the discussion ends..
In Southern states, discussion of GWTW never ends!

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Or you and I can discuss it later.
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Old 03-01-2010, 10:23 AM   #49
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In Southern states, discussion of GWTW never ends!



Good point and true, no wonder it's a classic.
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Old 03-02-2010, 05:16 AM   #50
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I finished it a couple of days ago. I found it an excellent read, as many others have said, covering a history of which I'm largely ignorant from the point of view of a participant, which is always interesting.

Can someone who does know about the history confirm (or otherwise) that is is reasonably accurate?

I agreed with the post above that Scarlett has many positive qualities, as does Rhett. Although early on in the book (i.e. before the war), Scarlett is pretty repugnant, she shows her gumption from that point on. It seems understandable to me that she might become ruthless in pursuit of financial security, given what happens to her.
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:05 AM   #51
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Just finished this morning. Despite my preference for happy endings it is still one of the best books I have read lately. There wasn't a single character that I loved but I felt like I understood all of them and their individual motivations. If you held me at gunpoint and forced me to choose the one I most identified with I would have to go with Scarlett.

I think she gets a completely raw deal in this story...led on by Ashley and then tossed aside for Melanie, forced to endure the bonds of widowhood at a very young age as a result of an impetuous mistake (and don't go woe is Charles for getting stuck with her because he wanted her and he got her, it was a two way street - no black magic or love potions here, he saw his chance to upgrade and he leapt upon it). Then she was barely tolerated for wanting more out of life than to toil and tend when faced with the duties of womanhood during a wartime she not only didn't understand but was deliberately encouraged not to understand. Then she keeps her word after being emotionally blackmailed by Ashley and Melanie to stand by Melanie during the burning of Atlanta and to singlehandedly save her and her child's life. She sweats it out basically alone in the fields of Tara to bring in enough money to support her now extended family that was depending on her. She takes her survival instincts one step further and takes the only course of action she can see that will save the land and her family (and yes it was at the expense of a sister who never lifted a finger to help anyone and wasn't truly in love, just wanted the status and title). Faced with a loveless marriage and an incompetent husband she further defies social norms and enters into industry determined to raise enough money to secure herself and her family forever. In the course of doing this she is victimized by ruffians and then blamed when her foolhardy vigilante husband gets killed in a selfish attempt to regain his "manhood", abandoning her at the one time in her life when she actually needed and wanted him to physically be present for her. Rebuffed by all society she marries the only person who has ever stood by her in any way despite his constant insults, condescension and put downs. She doesn't hold it against him, builds a life with him, continues to support her family (and the ever dependent Ashley and Melanie) until Ashley, who continues to lead her on, compromises her further sealing her shunning from all those that she knew. Melanie, blindly rejecting the evidence in a bid to maintain her security (which is housed, not in her husband but in Scarlett) further binds Scarlett to her. In the end her husband, who supposedly loves her, gives her nothing but unkindness and disrespect even in the face of her declarations of love, Ashley rejects her in favour of the deceased Melanie but remains an albatross around her neck, Melanie blackmails her into supporting her family forever, Scarlett's family rejects and insults her while still surviving on her generosity. And she is alone.

Of course, you can tell this tale from hundreds of different angles and they would all be true. This book truly provides fodder for thought and argument and may be one of the best book club books ever. I'm surprised Oprah hasn't recommended it but I guess the political slant of it might not appeal.
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:31 AM   #52
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... If you held me at gunpoint and forced me to choose the one I most identified with I would have to go with Scarlett.

I think she gets a completely raw deal in this story...
You make some interesting points about the various plights Scarlett finds herself in. But I think you give the men a rough time, they weren't raised to handle someone like her, and they're not allowed to play by her rules - when she lies about fellow timber merchants for example.

Her problem seemed to be that she didn't know who she was in love with when.
She was just as caustic with Rhett as he was to her. He was the only male character who cast aside social convention and dealt with her on her own terms; ultimately beating her at her own game.
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Old 03-02-2010, 10:58 AM   #53
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Her problem seemed to be that she didn't know who she was in love with when.
She was just as caustic with Rhett as he was to her. He was the only male character who cast aside social convention and dealt with her on her own terms; ultimately beating her at her own game.
It raises an interesting question...who is to blame for Rhett and Scarlett's failure to make the marriage work? I think it is possible to look at it from both sides and see the good and bad (like in real life, although in real life it is more difficult to put yourself in others emotional shoes and not just perform an intellectual exercise). What event set them down this self-destructive path? Was there one moment that could have changed it? The book leads you to believe that the aftermath of their passionate union was the turning point - towards love for Scarlett and away from love for Rhett. Did the marriage fail because Rhett couldn't forgive himself for all the mistakes he made? He claims to have known Scarlett inside and out and even in the beginning he correctly surmised that Scarlett's love for Ashley was no more than a juvenile fantasy built on smoke. Yet he still couldn't get past it. Was he right to judge that withholding his feelings was the only way to keep her attention or did this habit of keeping her at arms length and condescending to her eventually become the chasm that drove him out of love. He seemed to want her to be "a great lady" yet he only ever encouraged her to frivolity, pique and excess. He wanted her to be completely honest with him but he never was with her, he always withheld.

Scarlett, of course, is also not blameless in this. It takes two as they say. She was selfish, thoughtless, neglectful, insulting and cold. Still, from the beginning of their relationship she was always true to who she was and what she believed. (Of course what she believed and what was true were not the same - she believed she loved Ashley with a passion of the ages for example). She behaved immaturely but he went into it knowing her immaturity, indeed he even encouraged it. In the end it seems he wasn't willing to wait for her to grow up - however, since he treated her like a child I'm not sure whose fault that is.

So, ends my second staunch defence of Scarlett I guess. Of course, as you said it is easy to defend with the voice of a culture that has permitted women to be educated, voting, informed and equal members of society. The times, even when the book was being written, never mind during the actual historical period being portrayed, were different. One of the thing Rhett teaches us is that if you don't want to end up alone you have to make an effort to fit in so the fact that Scarlett is so bereft at the end is in large part her own fault.

It occurred to me when writing this that Mitchell must have been influenced by and able to draw some interesting parallels with World War I and the effect it had on cultural norms as they applied to women's work.

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Old 03-02-2010, 12:25 PM   #54
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There was a strong feminist streak in Scarlet. As MelC said, "she further defies social norms and enters into industry determined to raise enough money to secure herself and her family forever." Unlike many of the women of the time she didn't wait demurely for a man to come to her rescue, but took matters into her own hands.

Gumption! Scarlett had it in spades!
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:46 PM   #55
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It raises an interesting question...who is to blame for Rhett and Scarlett's failure to make the marriage work?
I'd say the blame is spread out pretty evenly. Rhett loved her for years, but masked it with an air on nonchalance and snide remarks for fear of how Scarlett would react to the knowledge. Meanwhile, Scarlett clung to her fantasy version of Melanie's husband and longed for the day when Ashley would be hers.

Had the timing of the Butler's emotions been different, their marriage might have been very strong indeed; but the feelings they had for each other were never in sync. By the time Scarlet realized that Rhett was the man she truly loved, her previous behavior and attitude had demolished his long-suffering love for her.

Still, I wonder. They never mentioned divorce, and although separated, Rhett said he would return home frequently enough to allow her to keep up appearances for the neighbors, and Scarlett swore that she would make him love her once again.

If Mitchell had written a few more chapters, would we have eventually seen the Butlers reunited and finally happy?

The lady or the tiger? Which outcome might have played out eventually? Perhaps the ending wasn't as sad as it's been long perceived.
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Old 03-02-2010, 12:55 PM   #56
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If Mitchell had written a few more chapters, would we have eventually seen the Butlers reunited and finally happy?
Mitchell didn't but Scarlett was published to much hype at the time written by Alexandra Ripley in 1991 which supposedly tells the continuing story. I haven't read it as it seemed a bit of a marketing ploy rather than good writing necessarily. However, perhaps I haven't done it justice since there have been some excellent sequels and companion novels - prize winner March by Geraldine Brooks, A Thousand Acres by Jane Smiley and even Bridget Jones' Diary by Helen Fielding spring to mind which haven't lessened my enjoyment of the original works they were based upon.

There is also another companion novel entitled Rhett Butler's People which I also have not read which tells the story from Rhett's perspective (and perhaps would result in my eating my words here). Not sure if this story continues on beyond the end of GWTW though although I understand it does begin much earlier.

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Old 03-02-2010, 02:29 PM   #57
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I remember the hype surrounding Scarlet and I know about the Rhett Butler book; but I can't help but feel that the only person ever truly authorized to write a sequel was killed by a speeding automobile driven by an off-duty taxi driver in 1949.
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Old 03-02-2010, 03:00 PM   #58
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I remember the hype surrounding Scarlet and I know about the Rhett Butler book; but I can't help but feel that the only person ever truly authorized to write a sequel was killed by a speeding automobile driven by an off-duty taxi driver in 1949.
Who also made it quite clear that as far as she was concerned there was, is and never will be any more to the story. I believe the actions of her estate in permitting the sequel were in direct contradiction to her wishes and she obstinately refused to satisfy any of her desperate readers with hints as to where the story would have gone when asked. Her view, I believe was best stated as "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn".

So, the rest of us may speculate and writhe with unsatisfied curiousity while she smirks one last "Fiddle dee dee" at us.

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Old 03-02-2010, 03:17 PM   #59
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I've read both Scarlett and Rhett Butler's People, and they're okay, but neither holds a candle to Gone With the Wind. It's hard to do a good sequel or prequel/sequel to a classic. The sequel portions of the stories are also very different from one another.

Scarlett really was a "mule in horse's harness" , and had a hard time fulfilling the expectations of her society. Almost all her female peers (except Melanie) loathe her and I wonder how much of that attitude was due to snobbishness about Scarlett being the daughter of an Irish Catholic immigrant, instead of from the old Southern aristocracy. It took both money and breeding to be completely accepted in that social circle and I got the impression that Tara in its heyday wasn't half as grand as Twelve Oaks.
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Old 03-03-2010, 08:48 AM   #60
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... So, the rest of us may speculate and writhe with unsatisfied curiousity while she smirks one last "Fiddle dee dee" at us.

Mel

'Do you know Languages? What's the French for fiddle-de-dee?'

'Fiddle-de-dee's not English,' Alice replied gravely.

'Who ever said it was?' said the Red Queen.

Alice thought she saw a way out of the difficulty this time. 'If you'll tell me what language "fiddle-de-dee" is, I'll tell you the French for it!' she exclaimed triumphantly.

But the Red Queen drew herself up rather stiffly, and said 'Queens never make bargains.'

'I wish Queens never asked questions,' Alice thought to herself.

— Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, CHAPTER IX. "Queen Alice."




Sorry. Couldn't help myself!
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