Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell (Week 2)


I am woefully behind Matt's Gone With the Wind reading schedule, which set a goal of 400 pages by this date. I am very close to the 300 page mark...I tried! I can't express the delight I am experiencing in reading this book, and I don't want to rush. So it seems it may take the rest of my natural born life to finish it, but at least I'll enjoy the ride!

If you recall, last week I was feeling empathy for Scarlett - at least more than I did for the character in the movie. I still do, with one exception. I am more than annoyed at her attitude towards her son, Wade, conceived from her two month marriage to the late Charles Hamilton. She seems to have no maternal feelings towards this child, and would prefer to leave him in the care of the Aunt Pitty Pat's staff. In fact, she is often annoyed at his presence, as he reminds her of her widowhood and all the restrictions that come with it. Despite her young age and her narcissism, there is no excuse that works for me! This is an offense to me as a mother.
It is in this section of the book, during Scarlett's time in Atlanta during the war, where we see the full blossoming of her relationship with Rhett, which we were not privy to in the movie. They spend a great deal of time together, starting with the famous scene at the hospital benefit where he bids for her dances. They go for walks, he dines at Aunt Pitty Pat's, he buys Scarlett gifts. He is obviously taken with her moxie and outspoken nature. She is intrigued with his charm and wealth. We get to know a little more about Rhett's character as well. He is an entrepreneur, capitalizing on whatever venture is the most lucrative. He woos the city with is generosity, then shocks them with his capitalistic attitude towards the war. He does as he pleases. It becomes obvious that Scarlett and Rhett have a great deal in common.

I have come to realize some things about Scarlett's character that I did not recognize from the movie. First, she is extremely self-aware. I loved the scene in which she has attended the hospital benefit, and is horrified by the attendees fierce, manic dedication to The Cause. Scarlett is practical, and feels that throwing one's life away for the Confederacy, who will surely be beaten, is ridiculous. She knows she is alone in this attitude, and feels isolated and wants her innocence back.

Also, Scarlett is excellent at compartmentalizing. Typically, this is a trait that is common in men, but it comes as second nature to Scarlett, which is a testament to her strength of will. Yes, she is in love with Ashley, and yes she hates Melanie because she's married to him. But while Ashley is away, she allows a wonderful sisterhood to develop with Melanie that is so much fun to watch. She hates the sights and smells of the hospital, but she works there anyway, to keep herself busy. She worries what her mother would say about her seeing Rhett, or secretly reading Ashley's letters to Melanie, but she does what she feels she needs to do. Which brings me to the quote that says it all about Scarlett:
She had become adept at putting unpleasant thoughts out of her mind these days. She had learned to say "I won't think of this or that bothersome thought now. I'll think about it tomorrow." Generally when tomorrow came, the thought either did not occur at all or it was so attenuated by the delay it was not very troublesome.

12 comments:

Beth F said...

Fantastic summary. I am loving this chance to relive the book through you. And you've summed up Scarlett so well. I've never forgotten her "I'll think about that tomorrow" attitude.

C. B. James said...

I'm also doing some vicarious reading here. It's nice to see that there is so much depth to the novel afterall.

Dar said...

Scarlett definitely does not make a good mother. That was one of the things about her that I really didn't like. Scarlett was a woman who would have been very successful in today's world. She had that type of ambition don't you think? I'm glad you're liking it. I like reading your summaries. It gets me thinking about the book again.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Beth - I find myself with the same attitude sometimes. There are days when I just can't face one more problem!

James - There is a tremendous amount of depth, but not too much to lose a person. It has a great amount of history of the Civil War woven into the story too.

Dar - You're right...she wouldn't have won any mother of the year awards. She is level-headed with an eye for business. She sets her emotion aside in making many of her decisions.

ANovelMenagerie said...

I am loving watching you go through this book... my favorite book!

Can't wait for the next post!

ds said...

Sandy,
It's been a while since I read GWTW; I'm glad you're doing it so that I can remember! Also, there's a surprise for you on my blog, if you'd like to come over...

Bellezza said...

This is such a great book. I haven't read it in about twenty years or so, but it's very clear in my memory. Also, I have lots of connections between this and other great novels. Believe it or not, parts of War and Peace create connections to Gone With The Wind because of the loss of the aristocracy.

Gavin said...

It's been along time since I've read GWTW. You are doing a wonderful job summarizing it.

Matt said...

I lhow you put it about Scarlett: compartmentalizing. That might be her way of de-stressing and trying to focus on her life struggles one at a time.

As to her headbutting relationship to Rhett Butler, I think they're like an awkward couple trying to tango but the beat is off. They will hopefully become more in sync as time goes by, although I'm not that hopeful. He seems to delight in getting on her nerve by flinging at her these sarcastic but true remarks.

Don't worry too much that you're behind in reading. I want you to enjoy what you're reading. :)

Melody said...

Although I haven't read the book, but I'm enjoying reading your thoughts (as long as there're no spoilers, haha)!

Sadako said...

I felt the same way about Scarlett in terms of her parenting. But I guess it's consistent with her character.

farmlanebooks said...

Great summary! I'm slowly catching up with you on this, but I'm sure you'll finish before me - if you hadn't already! I'm really pleased I saw your mention of the read-a-long - it is a great book!