1937: Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

Literary Style:

Mitchell is a genius at investing a reader in what’s happening on the page—a 950 page novel went past much more quickly than I’d have guessed.  This is not to say that I think she couldn’t have used a good editor or better pacing at times (about which a little more is said below), but she clearly had a talent for writing, and it’s appreciated.  Most of her central characters are really compelling—the enigmatic but undeniably charismatic Rhett, the saintly (yet appealing) Melanie, the brooding lost “knight” Ashley, etc.  Even her relatively minor white characters, like the Fontaines and Tarletons, like Miss Pittypat and Archie, have a liveliness to them.  There’s no question that, as you read, you become personally involved in the storylines, rooting for certain outcomes.  The death of a major character is genuinely moving, and its aftermath hushes the rest of the story.  Had Mitchell not died well before her time, I think she might have risen to more prominence as an American author—perhaps not its most “literary”, since I don’t think her use of language and theme is especially deep or insightful (though it might have grown with time), but among its most popular, and for many good reasons.  There is a reason this book stands at the front of sales figures in the United States—of the books produced by American authors, none have outsold it, and I can see why.  And yet, if you’ve been following my progress through the novel, you know my feelings don’t stop there.

Scarlett is a major obstacle for me, and I think there’s little that can be done about her—she is the novel, and your take on her will inevitably dominate your feelings about the book itself.  Every other character distances themselves from the reader at times, sometimes hundreds of pages at a time, but Scarlett never gives us breathing room.  Mitchell wants us to encounter her very closely….but why?  There is a tragic arc to Scarlett’s life—she matches the classical definition of the tragic hero whose flaw is her downfall—but to me that arc doesn’t pay off.  In part this is because I think the novel is too unwieldy in length to give resonance to her story: by the time Scarlett is ready to face her flaw and acknowledge her tragedy, it has been too long for me.  Like Rhett, I had been willing to wait for her, but not that long—her revelations at the end are no more appealing to me than they are to Rhett, and like him, I no longer give a damn about her.  I think there were opportunities to avoid this in the novel, but Mitchell would have had to write a very different book, and almost certainly a much shorter one, in order to make it work for me.  And frankly, I’m not sure Mitchell wants the character to work—a tragic hero, in the end, at least gets the benefit of realizing what they’ve become.  Scarlett undoes this personal growth, though—her last lines in the novel more or less mirror the last lines in the film, if that’s your only tie to the story.  It’s as though the aging Lear, holding the dying Cordelia in his arms, is bending over her and with the last lines of the play says “Dear, tell me how much you love me.”  It feels a bit profane—as though the character and the work are punching the reader who has let down any guard.  I had at least tried to invest myself in Scarlett’s growth, in her ability to recognize the emptiness of her “old charm”, etc., only to find at the end that she is not moved.  Even Macbeth, the tyrant and slayer of children, earns something true and good in his final cry of “Lay on, Macduff”, his willingness to face Fate and not to run from it.  But Scarlett is denied this, and to me it reads, as it has for much of the book, as though Mitchell has nothing but contempt for Scarlett—as though she wants to punish Scarlett for being herself as much as Booth Tarkington punished Alice Adams.  I know not everyone reads the character, and her relationship to the author, in this way, but the feeling is too overwhelmingly present for me to understand how else to see her.

A cartoon threatening that the KKK would lynch...

An image from 1868, depicting the work of the Klan in whose success all the characters invest themselves to some degree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lastly, what can I say about this novel’s attitude towards race?  I’ll give one example to explain how complicated this is for me—at one point, midway through the novel, I am fully invested in a very tense chapter.  All of the characters we know and care about are working against a very difficult circumstance, in which the wrong word or action may mean death for several beloved people.  I know I personally was almost on the edge of my seat as I read, hoping they would beat the odds, hoping that no one would be caught, cheering them on: Mitchell’s writing was working very well.  And then I stopped and realized what I was doing.  All of these characters were in trouble because they, as members of the Ku Klux Klan, had killed a free African-American man in an act of vigilante justice, and I was cheering their ability to escape without being caught by the soldiers stationed in Georgia for the prevention of this kind of violence.  And the disgust I felt for myself and the characters and the author and the whole weird mess of the situation was really awful.

Now, I know the novel can be read in all sorts of ways: all I can tell you is how I read it.  I don’t like being caught up like that, any more than I like a novel to get me rooting for a rapist to assault a woman and get away with it, any more than I could read a novel about the Holocaust and be rooting for the Gestapo to find the Jews hidden in the attic.  I’m not saying that a novel can’t help me explore what it must be like to be a man who commits sexually violent acts, or what it was like to be a German citizen in 1942 and to see the world through those eyes.  I’ve read novels that helped me explore those viewpoints in ways that unsettled me and challenged me, but didn’t make me feel as though I was being co-opted, being asked to stand on the sidelines and cheer.  GWTW is the latter kind of experience, for me as a reader, and for that reason I found many moments of my reading experience deeply unpleasant, to the point that I didn’t see at times how I could continue (in spite of my investment in the characters and in the resolution of the plot).  This is a big complicated novel, and I know there are a lot of places to grab hold of it—I could even feel that complexity as I read, but for some reason I couldn’t grab a hold of it in any way but the way I did.  I can’t explain why.

Historical Insight:

There are two different grades to be given here. As an insight into the South in the 1930s, and as it must have been for Mitchell to grow up in throughout the early 20th Century, it is astonishingly important: a novel that expresses all the complex relationships Southerners had to the idea of the “Lost Cause” and the antebellum South and the imposition of Northerners and their values, etc.  I think there are echoes here also of the hunger and fear that gripped many families during the Great Depression, since Scarlett goes through real deprivation at Tara at the end of the war, and I think there’s something powerful to explore there also.  This is a vitally important book for understanding how the world and the country’s past look through the lens of that society, and Mitchell is very good at providing a wide range of characters and experiences to help illuminate her vision of the war and its aftermath.

But this book has also imprinted on the minds of many Americans a vision of the South and of Reconstruction that is appallingly misinformed—it depicts slavery in the kindest, gentlest possible way, without anyone to challenge or offer context for shockingly bold claims about how nice life was for slaves and how much they appreciated it (and really preferred it to freedom in a number of respects).  It depicts Reconstruction about as accurately as the Nazis depicted German Jews in the Weimar Republic—it regularly plays up stereotypical racist images of freed black men as lazy, peanut-eating, barefoot, illiterate idiots who divided their day between voting illegally to tax ex-Confederates and give the money to carpetbaggers, taking wages and then doing no work for their employers, and sexually assaulting any white woman they could get their hands on (knowing that the Yankee courts would always protect them, no matter how many white women they raped).  I really can’t pull any punches here—the descriptions of Reconstruction are almost criminally irresponsible, and I can’t forgive them under any flag labeled “fiction”.  It was, as far as I can tell, what many Southerners truly believed in the 1930s—that, had it not been for the noble members of the Klan, the South would have lost every cent it had to Northern thieves, and every white woman would have been raped or murdered with impunity.  But it is almost unendurable for me to read.  These little snippets about the Reconstruction era only occur every so often—in total terms, maybe only 1% of the book is given over to the kind of content I’m describing.  But it doesn’t take much to really turn my stomach, and much of this certainly did.

Rating:

Given all of that, how can I encapsulate my response in a phrase?  I’ll say it this way: under my unscientific rating scale, I’ll give Gone With the Wind a “let the reader beware”.  I think it is one of the most important books in the nation’s history.  I think anyone wanting to understand the nation’s history with race, anyone wanting to understand the North-South dynamic, and anyone wanting a window into how this nation changed and grew over the course of the 20th Century almost has to read this.  It would be required reading in any class I tried to teach on those subjects.  And I think it has many moments where, away from the elements that disturb me so much, it is powerful storytelling by one of the nation’s better yarn-spinners—Mitchell might have been our Dickens (if not our Shakespeare), given time to grow.  But I do not think I will ever be able to read it again.  I know many people who, given their preferences as readers, would get no joy, and much pain, from trying to read it even once.  For those who can read it, I think there is something important about approaching the book thoughtfully—ready to interrogate your own feelings, informed about the real history of the period, willing to let the story work on you as it goes.  This is probably the most troubling and problematic book I will read in my Pulitzer journey, as well as one of the most important to the nation.  It is almost certain to be the most memorable of the Pulitzer winners, for me personally.  And I think I’ll have to leave it there.

The Last Word:

It’s one of my testaments to Mitchell’s talents as a writer that, unlike most of the novels I’ve read for this blog, I wasn’t keeping an eye out for a good “last word” passage as I finished—I was too engrossed in the events, to attentive to the conversations, to pick out the right bit for sharing.  As always, I hope to show you some of her most characteristic writing and a glimpse of the novel at its peak—moreover I give her the last word, and not myself, in a chance to win you over if she will.  As it is, I’ve come back to the novel and am a bit uncertain what to select: in the end, I’ve decided to share a bit of Rhett Butler being blunt with Scarlett, which to me is almost always the high point of the book.  This isn’t their very last conversation, but it comes late in the story, when Rhett is ready to let Scarlett have a bit more truth than even he usually loads upon her.  The topic, as usual, is her feelings for him, her feelings for Ashley Wilkes, and Rhett’s rising level of frustration:

“Oh, yes, you’ve been faithful to me because Ashley wouldn’t have you.  But, hell, I wouldn’t have grudged him your body.  I know how little bodies mean—especially women’s bodies.  But I do grudge him your heart and your dear, hard, unscrupulous, stubborn mind.  He doesn’t want your mind, the fool, and I don’t want your body.  I can buy women cheap.  But I do want your mind and your heart, and I’ll never have them, any more than you’ll ever have Ashley’s mind.  And that’s why I’m sorry for you.”

“Sorry—for me?”

“Yes, sorry because you’re such a child, Scarlett.  A child crying for the moon.  What would a child do with the moon if it got it?  And what would you do with Ashley?  Yes, I’m sorry for you—sorry to see you throwing away happiness with both hands and reaching out for something that would never make you happy.  I’m sorry because you are such a fool you don’t know there can’t ever be happiness except when like mates like.  If I were dead, if Miss Melly were dead and you had your precious honorable lover, do you think you’d be happy with him?  Hell, no!  You would never know him, never know what he was thinking about, never understand him any more than you understand music and poetry and books or anything that isn’t dollars and cents.  Whereas we, dear wife of my bosom, could have been perfectly happy if you had ever given us half a chance, for we are so much alike.  We are both scoundrels, Scarlett, and nothing is beyond us when we want something.  We could have been happy, for I loved you and I know you, Scarlett, down to your bones, in a way that Ashley could never know you.  And he would despise you if he did know. . . . But no, you must go mooning all your life after a man you cannot understand.  And I, my darling, will continue to moon after whores.  And, I dare say we’ll do better than most couples.”

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16 comments on “1937: Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

  1. bakerlady says:

    I also no longer gave a damn about Scarlett once I reached the end, and thought it was brilliant writing that brought me to the same place as Rhett. Part of your ending quote is my favorite line in the whole book. “Yes, I’m sorry for you—sorry to see you throwing away happiness with both hands and reaching out for something that would never make you happy.” I love that sentiment. It rings true for so many. I know plenty of people (women) who wanted there to be a follow-up book where Scarlett and Rhett lived happily ever after but I was incredibly pleased to see him man up and walk away. GWTW is one of my favorite books, I’m glad you found it engrossing.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Thanks, Tonya—it’s funny, but I spent a little time today looking at reviews posted by other bloggers, and it’s shocking how many of them A) are sure Scarlett will get Rhett in the end, and B) think they belong together. I mean, I understand that’s a valid interpretation of the book, but it’s an opinion that seems nearly universal, and I can’t work out why, since I feel like the novel makes it pretty clear that Scarlett’s missed that train, and that her confidence that “she can win any man back if she has to” is just one more example of how deluded she is about herself and other people. Ah well. 🙂

      • bakerlady says:

        I passionately wanted Rhett to ditch her by the end. Apparently we are the only two in the world who feel Scarlett finally got what her behavior deserved. Ah well indeed.

  2. Aaron says:

    great review James! I can’t reply with anything meaningful, as I have yet to read it, but this makes me want to / not want to 🙂

  3. Donna says:

    A great, great review. I love your description of feeling revulsion at cheering for the escape of the men who were out doing vigilante justice as members of the Klan. As I’ve grown older and wiser my feelings about this book have become more complicated. I almost need to think of it as two books: the Southern view of history colored by its being written during the Great Depression and the character study of Scarlet and Rhett. Thanks for giving me even more to think about.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Thanks so much, Donna! I think the two books hypothesis you put out there is a good way of approaching the novel: I think both books are important, but for different reasons, and I have a much easier time with one book than with the other. 🙂

  4. Jillian ♣ says:

    Mitchell referred to her main character as (her) “poor Scarlett.” There were elements in Scarlett’s character that she valued: her strength, her endeavor never to break her word, her instinctual defense of her family. (Well, except Sue Ellen!) 🙂 But she was frankly puzzled when all of America fell for Scarlett O’Hara. Mitchell saw Melanie Hamilton as the novel’s heroine and couldn’t understand why people admired Scarlett. In her remaining years, people often assumed Mitchell was like Scarlett, and this made her livid. She disliked being compared to Scarlett, though there was a part of her that loved Scarlett, I think.

    We will have to agree to disagree on this novel! For I am blissfully unable to disassociate myself from the function it served as a friend (noted in our email exchange.) I will always treasure this book, but I respect your critique of it, as would, I believe, the author.

    I’m excited to keep following your progress here, James! I don’t recognize the next title on your list, but I see that The Yearling and To Kill a Mockingbird are coming up fairly soon. As are several others that I intend to eventually read. Mitchell was quite excited when The Yearling won the Pulitzer. She was critical of a lot of literature (which is how I can guess she would respect your views and candor on her novel.) She said The Yearling made her nostalgic for her childhood and reminded her of her time on the Fitzgerald Farm (which would, it is assumed, eventually inspire the fictional Tara.)

    I haven’t read it yet, but I own it. Perhaps you and I will read it together. 🙂

    Cheers from Atlanta!

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Thanks, Jillian—as always, I definitely find your knowledge about Mitchell helpful. I agree with her that Melanie is a lot more compelling….I guess I wonder, then, why she structured the novel around “poor Scarlett” rather than around Melanie. Scarlett could have been a major presence in the novel without being its center of gravity….but I guess Mitchell has a few million readers to suggest that, as far as constructing a novel goes, she knows more than I do. 🙂

      This is definitely an agree-to-disagree title: I completely understand your connection to, and love for, the novel, and I don’t think it’s possible for me to ever see it that way (which is a shame). I’m glad that, in the end, the criticisms seem fair to you: I was trying to maintain that balance!

      And I’m glad you’ll be a regular return visitor: there’s plenty of good titles ahead (a Steinbeck, if he makes your classics list, in addition to the titles you mentioned). If you were up for reading the Yearling at about the same time, it would be very welcome: I haven’t had a “co-reader” since my friend Paul (a former teacher colleague, who is really very talented at both teaching and talking about books) read along for “The Magnificent Ambersons”, and I got a lot out of my dialogue with Paul. You’ll see me creep towards that title soon enough, I hope. My best back to you from Chicago (where our weather has turned very Georgian, I must say): happy reading! 🙂

      • Jillian ♣ says:

        If you read Mitchell’s stories from when she was a child, she always centered on the most compelling perspective from which to tell the tale. For example, when she was seventeen, she wrote a short story called “Little Sister” which tells the tale of a child who is made to listen while her entire family is slaughtered, and her older sister is raped and then killed. The story ends as the girl aims a rifle at the leader of the attackers: “She must not miss now—she would not miss—and she did not.” The story is about the transformation of this innocent young girl from child to killer. (Who is aware that by killing the leader, she will immediately be killed.) Mitchell was fascinated by psychology and seemed to focus on psychological studies in her characters, which were often girls/women. In her non-fiction work, she was especially intrigued by the officers and generals that represented Georgia in the American Civil War, and fascinating women that dented history.

        Oh, I don’t think Mitchell found Melanie more compelling; only that she thought Scarlett was a questionable role model, and wondered why people admired her. You might disagree that Scarlett is the most compelling character in Gone With the Wind, but I strongly object. 🙂 I find Scarlett fascinating. Melanie might have been the heroine, but her beautiful perspective is only seen through Scarlett’s jaded eyes. Having to filter the gold from the distorted in Gone With the Wind (including the many things you disliked about the story and pinned, albeit respectfully, on Mitchell rather than Scarlett), is what makes this work absolutely intriguing to me. What is the truth? What is just Scarlett’s viewpoint and not truth?

        It’s like when I read Pride & Prejudice: it took a second read for me to realize that Elizabeth Bennet is quite flawed as the story’s narrator, that we’re only getting her version of Mr. Darcy, and that what I am reading as fact is actually only Elizabeth Bennet lying to herself and me. People read Jane Austen far too often as if she is fluff and happily-ever-after, but if one reads Pride & Prejudice through Charlotte Lucas’s eyes, one sees that Austen makes a clear point about the plight of women in Regency England, and that the story is far from happily-ever-after. (Though she was clever enough to make it appear to be a simple love story, and thereby sell copies to those who had money and wanted a romantic read.)

        Anyway, I know you’ll disagree, and agreeing to disagree works for me. I can’t wait to re-read this novel though. 🙂 I like that you point out that Mitchell was a first-time novelist when she wrote Gone With the Wind (nearly without editing at all, by the way, which explains the length, which she was interested in cutting down but was told to leave as it was by the publishers, who bought it as a rough draft and wanted to rush it to press without giving Mitchell time to do much more than verify dates). I think she’d have blossomed tremendously, if she’d had confidence in her work and had lived long enough to write more. She actually hated her writing and was embarrassed for people to read her stuff. True of most writers, I reckon. At least the greats. She had a couple ideas in the works for novels, when she died. A shame, that. I’d have loved to read her next masterpiece.

        Enjoy that weather! PS – I have Steinbeck on my list. 🙂

  5. Amy says:

    I read Gone With the Wind about twenty times when I was between the ages of 13 and 18. What drew me than was mostly plot, I think (the book is a page-turner and there’s that romantic triangle), and also the sense of place (the Civil War era became an interest for a while). At that age, I found the book’s attitude toward blacks and slavery to be ridiculous, but didn’t give it a lot of thought. As an adult, I read somewhere that Mitchell was transmitting her older relatives’ stories about the War and the Reconstruction era, and that gave me a bit of a chill in that it made me realize that that was many, many people’s mental reality. I haven’t read the book in twenty years or so, but your experience of that scene in Melanie’s parlor while they all wait for news of their men’s fates really pulls me up sharply. Would I want to read it again? I don’t think so; it’s just too familiar; the page-turning quality is gone.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Thanks for the comment, Amy—my impression is that, for people who first encounter GWTW in their formative years, the novel retains a deeper power than it did for me. I imagine it’s like any other novel—so much of the way we read is contextual, driven by the circumstances of our lives, and this isn’t some kind of “evil subjectivity” to be guarded against, but rather one of the beautiful things about being a reader. I wonder, myself, how I will read novels that I loved as a child or young adult, but which I recognize now (as I think back on them) were really problematic in the ways they handled gender and race. And of course, as I say in the review, part of the importance of the book is the way it captures a way of seeing the world that is not mine: it’s a very uncomfortable element in the book, for me, but I can’t deny that it’s part of why the novel remains relevant.

      Your last comment strikes a chord, too—I re-read a bunch of P. D. James’s mystery novels last week, and was surprised (and pleased) to discover that I’d completely forgotten the plots, who murdered who, etc. As a confirmed re-reader, I return again and again to books that I know back to front—I’m told that it’s especially odd that I do this with mystery novels—and yet there are a few novels I now know so well that it’s hard to engage with them. I can recite all the dialogue before the characters do. I wonder if I’ve “worn out” the book forever, or if I just need to leave it for a few years, or if maybe there’s another way of reading it that will give me a new insight into it despite its familiarity. My thoughts haven’t gotten me anywhere! But I have been mulling them over, and what you said reminded me that I need to herd these thoughts along and see if I can get to any useful conclusions. 🙂

      • Amy says:

        It’s interesting that you mention rereading some P.D. James books to the point of burnout. I did that with Agatha Christie. I read them so many times throughout my teens and twenties that, although I still hold them in great affection, I don’t read them anymore. With AC, it wasn’t just about the suspense and finding the solution to the mystery, it was again the sense of place and AC’s wonderful ear for dialogue, which made her books delightfully transporting for me, even though her prose and characterization were nothing special. I can practically recite them now, as you say, and they don’t “transport” so much any more. I’ve sometimes wondered, like you, if I’ll come back to them after ten or twenty years of leaving them alone. Incidentally, one great advantage of this kind of extreme familiarity with a book is that you can read it in a foreign language if you desire to, even if you are not particularly good at that language. And it’s a way of “rereading” after you’ve exhausted the book in English ;).

  6. Stella says:

    Great review. I totally agree that the author has nothing but contempt for her main protagonist, and that’s precisely the reason why I’ve had such a hard time to read this novel. I think it’s quite clear : we are supposed to finally feel “pity and kindness for her”. It is sometimes quite puzzling – I felt it was Butler who encouraged her to break the society rules, and after their marriage he does everything to change her into a Melanie. And the rape scene…a fine gentleman, that Butler ! I definitely had no sympathy for him.

    You see Melanie Hamilton as a more compelling character – I see her as a quite manichean symbol. I mean, the lady is ready to die in order to have a daughter; I may not understand the whole beauty of the “Old South” but I’m sure the author’s vision (Melanie is the true lady, Scarlett is left all alone that selfish slut) is somehow too simple, not subtle enough. I’d have liked more hints about a real complexity, a deep psychology in Melanie’s character. Oh, and I’d love to know your idea about this: I thought, at the end, Butler realizes that his respect for her was in fact a genuine and pure love whereas his obsession with Scarlett was a mere illusion…his speech about finding grace, beauty and gold instead of “cheap emotions” was, imo, the mirror of his relationship and growing love for Melly; but perhaps I just read too much between the lines here ^^ perhaps he truly loved Scarlett, even though I had some difficulties to see it.

    Well, I’m quite disappointed by Gone with the Wind; I really appreciated the beauty of the beginning: the descprition of the slow days, the landscapes, the amusing characters such as the Tarletons or Gerald but I find the whole story so moralizing, and sometimes devoid of subtlety – especially because of the characters. And more than the author’s contempt for Scarlett, it’s her clear admiration for Rhett Butler that has killed it for me.

    PS: I’m sorry if i’ve made many grammatical errors – I do my best to improve my English.

    • jwrosenzweig says:

      Stella, thanks for your comments—your ideas about Rhett are interesting. I’m not sure I agree that she becomes who he wants her to be, and then he blames her for it—correct me if I’ve misunderstood your point about his character. I feel as though she never becomes the woman he wanted her to be…whether or not we blame her for not conforming to his wishes is a question I hadn’t really considered.

      I do think Melanie is more compelling than you do, and I think she has a little more dimension than you suggest, but I’ll admit that I can completely understand drawing the conclusions you do. I think there’s a little more that’s redeemable about Scarlett than you do (“selfish slut” is farther than I think I’d go), and I feel as though Mitchell gives just a little color to her portrait of Melanie. Rhett’s true feelings are hard to calculate. I do get the sense that he (and perhaps Mitchell) feels as though Ashley and Scarlett deserve each other (in that he looks down on them both for somewhat similar reasons). I’m not as convinced that he envisions himself with Melanie—he’s pretty self-deprecating to really imagine that for himself—but I do agree that there are aspects of Melanie’s character that he badly wishes Scarlett possessed. And maybe in fact he was in love with Melanie, and not just an admirer of her personally. I don’t know that Mitchell gives me enough to be sure.

      I’m sorry you were disappointed by GWTW—as you can see, I feel a lot of disappointment myself, although I did also find a number of things to admire about the book. I found subtlety in a number of the characters…it was just missing from the ones that I’d most hoped would have it. I appreciate your perspective, though, and will reflect a little on my image of Rhett, and whether or not I was too lenient in assessing him.

      P.S. Don’t worry about grammar! I think you were very clear, and if English is a second language for you, you express yourself with far more success in it than I could in the second language I studied (German)! Thanks again for commenting, and don’t hesitate to do so in the future, regardless of grammar.

      • Stella says:

        Rhett Butler was my favourite character when I began to read; I had the feeling he was very close to Mitchell’s ideas about a lot of things and I’ve to admit he’s quite charismatic. But I thought his behaviour throughout the novel came close to emotionnal abuse towards his wife sometimes. Imo, they were both responsible for the failure of their relationship, in many ways.

        Oh, I liked more than one character; in fact, my favourite character is definitely Ashley Wilkes. I think he’s the most subtle and interesting in the whole story. The letter in which he explains to his wife his torment about the war is the passage I prefered. I liked the fact that he’s torn between his education, based on values of an era, and another time, another reality. Well, though, there is the Klu Klux Klan…I won’t develop here but it’s a part of the novel which has troubled me, the way it has troubled you apparently.

        I understand your thoughts about Melly, though; her courage is more quiet, her strenght is obviously more difficult and admirable than Scarlett’s. I just felt her character was too much a symbol, sometimes in a kind of “forced” way. I don’t know if it’s the translation her – I’ve read the novel in French – but I felt as though her only purpose was to be the true lady of the story, the most courageous, without any other challenge. Well, perhaps I just like nasty characters, who knows ^^

        Anyway, I agree with you about the last line: “Tomorrow is another day” was in my mind the hint that Scarlett has learned nothing from her mistakes, preventing her, as you noticed, from being a “tragic hero” who often recognize their own tragedy. I tried to imagine her future; in my mind, she became like Blanche Dubois in A streetcar named desire by Elia Kazan. I can’t believe I thought she ended with Rhett when I saw the movie years ago ^^

        Thanks about my grammar – people in London still smile when I speak there, I certainly have improvement to do lol.

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