“The ramblings and grumblings of author Ad Hudler”

I, too, don't give a damn
Thursday, September 30, 2010

Just finished reading Gone with the Wind for the first time. Hmmm, plenty to say about it. I think it's a swell book, probably one of the best stories I've ever read. Yes, it's filled with plenty of female drama (a little too much for my taste), but it's also a great history lesson about the Civil War. Lots of action! And Margaret Mitchell plotted that book as expertly as someone who'd written fifty novels.

Now, a word about Scarlett. I understand why she's so popular among Southern women. This girl's a survivor, no doubt, and she was a great conduit for Southerners to channel their frustration and anger toward the Yankees. (For those of you who have never lived in the South, we still do use the word "Yankee" in conversation down here.) My southern daughter, who is going to college in the Midwest but has sworn to return to Dixie for law school and to raise a family, idolizes Scarlett. And now that I've read the book, I must say this disturbs me a little.

Indeed, we can call Scarlett scrappy and tough and resourceful. She's definitely someone you'd want on the wagon with you, heading out West to the unknown territories.

But, my dear daughter ... she is also a conniving, self-centered, spoiled girl with no moral compass. In my opinion, Scarlett did one act of kindness in the whole book, and that was to give her dead father's watch to the black man who had been his personal servant. Honestly, now that I've finished the book, I think Ms. Mitchell shouldn't have included this scene because it's totally out of character for Scarlet to do such a thing. It could have foreshadowed a change in personality, showing Scarlett maturing and moving the focus from herself, to others ... but this never happens. In the end, she is just as self-centered and self-serving as she was while a catered-to teenager, manipulating the young men at parties at Tara.

It is almost incomprehensible to me that all those horrific experiences Scarlett endured did not make her a more humane person. And what does this say about her character? That's she's a survivor? Sure, I'll give her that. It also shows she's simply a bad seed. Some people are born with a shard of glass in their hearts, and they can't change. Scarlet is one of those people.

Some would say Scarlett is the novel's protagonist. I would call her the antagonist.

With apologies to Willie Nelson ... "Momma's, don't let your babies grow up to be Scarletts."

That said, thank you, Ms. Mitchell, for one fine read.


Anonymous Drew said...

I think, because it is overshadowed by the movie, It is overlooked as one of the finest Southern novels ever. I read it as a teenager when I was bored and couldn't find anything else in the house. It seemed so long that I didn't think I'd bother finishing it but I ate it up.

September 30, 2010 at 8:01 PM  
Blogger Fran Holliday Sanford said...

The book is so much better than the movie! I agree with you about Miss Scarlett. In today's world, she would be a Martha Stewart-type personality.

September 30, 2010 at 11:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would like to see Scarlett go head to head with the Housewives of NJ ;-)

October 28, 2010 at 1:32 PM  

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