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Old 06-18-2007, 05:04 PM   #1
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Gone With the Wind

There were several posts about this novel in another thread, so I thought I would give it a thread of its own. Anybody else love this novel like me? Or hate it? Here is something I put in the other thread.


"I heard an author say once that Melanie is the real heroine of GWTW, because she's the one who grows and changes throughout the novel, while Scarlett's personality remains the same. I hadn't thought about that before, but you could make a case for it. At the beginning, Melly is so timid she "wouldn't say boo to a goose," but later she stands up to the Yankees and Atlanta society. The only real change that happens to Scarlett is that she goes from hiding her personality to flaunting her arrogance after marrying Rhett. Her basic personality never changed, though."

Thoughts?

Also, I heard that somebody had written a "prequel" to GWTW, where Rhett was actually in love with a slave. Has anybody heard of it? Was it good or terrible?

Or the official sequel, Scarlett by Alexandra Ripley. I bought it when it came out all those years ago, but I regretted it. I thought it was terrible.
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Old 06-18-2007, 05:45 PM   #2
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I love GWTW. A history teacher recommended it to me when I was in seventh grade and I read it a dozen times before I finished high school. I fell completely in love with Rhett Butler.

Melly is the only one who changes. The South changes, too.

Scarlett is like Capt. Jack Sparrow in the Pirate movies. He is who he is the entire way through. That's why we love them.

Although, I've often looked at Scarlett as a 'good' role model--of what I don't want to be--I do admire her grit and courage. She never quit and she was willing to work hard for what she wanted. If her ethics were questionable, it only serves to show us her humanity.

I've never heard of a pre-quel. I think Margaret Mitchell gives us lots of clues about Rhett's earlier life. He and Belle Watling having a son together, for example, is hinted at. I would like to know more about him.

I'm with you on the sequel. I read one page in the bookstore and slapped it closed. The author, IMHO, didn't have Scarlett right--and if Scarlett is not right, the book is a wash. Everything I've heard since convinces me I made the correct decision. LOL

I recently re-read GWTW and decided that Scarlett never gets Rhett back. In fact, based on the horrors she has been through, I think Scarlett goes quietly mad. She lives out her life at Tara. Rhett provides for her care and comfort, visiting her a few times a year.

And loves her until the day he dies.

Oh, to write one book with such characters and detail!!!!! There's a goal for me.
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Old 06-18-2007, 05:47 PM   #3
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I don't think Melly changes at all. She always has an inner strength and loyalty.

Scarlett changes. It takes her to the last chapter, but she changes.
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Old 06-18-2007, 06:37 PM   #4
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I don't think Melly changes at all. She always has an inner strength and loyalty.

Scarlett changes. It takes her to the last chapter, but she changes.

Agreed on Melanie.

On Scarlet, however, I think she stays the same hedonistic woman who wants what she cannot have.
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Old 06-18-2007, 06:59 PM   #5
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I'm with scarletpeaches on this. Scarlett at the beginning of the book is exactly as she's described: sixteen, vain, shallow, self-absorbed to the point of annoyance, with a thin veneer of what qualified as Southern breeding instilled upon her by her mother and Mammy so she could accomplish the single goal of 'catching a husband.' She's sitting on the doorstep of a momentous event that changes the course of her country's history and all she can think about is the barbecue, catching Ashley, and how to force her own fulfillment.

She changes throughout the book in many, many ways. Oh, sure--that selfish willfullness remains intact, but as the war and then reconstruction continues, Scarlett's priorities subtly change. She gains the courage to gradually lose that imposed shell of civility in favor of a more straightforward approach to life. Her priorities change. Yeah, I know the "I'll never be hungry again" line looks like great cinema but think of the implications of it. If she were truly still so self-centered, why not go to Atlanta and hook up with a rich Yankee officer? That would truly be the easy way out! For a girl who didn't care about the war before it started, the siege of Atlanta and consequences of the Yankee occupation solidify her resolve to make it--and to take her family and the former slaves and Tara with her. Never once does she consider NOT taking on the resonsibility of her people. Sure, she tries to convince Ashley to run away with her, but we all have moments of weakness. Immediately after that, when Wilkerson shows up to make an offer for Tara does she think for a second about taking him up on it? No. Instead, she marries Frank and takes him and Pitty on too--dragging the whole clan into prosperity whether they want it or not. By the end of the book, she is a formidable woman. She's discarded the role of her upbringing, supported her family, created a successful business...all indicative of a deep character change. Her tragic character flaw throughout the book is her inability to recognize her own emotional needs--towards Melly, Ashley, Rhett, and her children--until it is too late. Even as she's trying to come to terms with it, she loses everything that is actually the most important to her and that is the brilliance of Mitchell as a writer. She leaves it to the reader to decide what Scarlett's ultimate fate is, and for almost 70 years we have debated it. If Scarlett hadn't changed throughout the book, if she hadn't become a character that we all developed if not a love for at least an unreserved respect, we wouldn't care.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:06 PM   #6
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Scarlett changes in that she learns to rely on herself when she returns to Tara. She's still selfish and vain, but she does what she has to in order to keep Tara. From then on, she doesn't wait for the husband to take care of her, but does for herself. She learns she has an inner strength she never knew possible, but she figures out the rest of it a little too late - like that Ashley's a big weenie and Rhett's really the perfect one for her.

The sequel was horrible. Horrible. HORRIBLE. Ugh - I read it (got it as a gift) and when I finished, I wanted to throw it across the room. It's scary to think that of all the propective writers who threw their names in to the mix, that this book was the best of the bunch. Yuck.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:21 PM   #7
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The sequel was horrible. Horrible. HORRIBLE. Ugh - I read it (got it as a gift) and when I finished, I wanted to throw it across the room. It's scary to think that of all the propective writers who threw their names in to the mix, that this book was the best of the bunch. Yuck.

It was dismal, wasn't it?? One of the stories I really wished I could have the hours I wasted reading it back to spend on more productive activities.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:23 PM   #8
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It took me 6 weeks to get through it. And I read GWTW itself in about a week. I've read it three times and I always whizz through it. I utterly, utterly adore the book.
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:54 PM   #9
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I agree with those who say Scarlett changes. An dI too love the book. Never even attempted to read the sequel. I;d liove to write it, though! Escept I couldn't. It's one of those books where you have to be seeped in the location to be able to write. But DWTW is the prototype of the kind of books I would like to write, except in another location. Bit, dripping wioth srama and emotion and full of histoy and the character of a place. I love it!

In fact,. I recently described one of my unpublished mss to my agent as a "post-colonial Gone With the Wind". I love that tagline, and so did she!
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Old 06-18-2007, 07:58 PM   #10
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I must have read that book 6 times between the 6th & 7th grades.

Tried the exploitative sequel. What a train wreck. Closed it up soon as I read the cover blurb. Ugh.

For a very sardonic and hilarious look at the exploitative sequel syndrome, please read Elizabeth Peter's Naked Once More.

Her MC is picked to write the sequel to a legendary bestseller and ends up solving the mystery of the original writer's disappearance/death.

Peters spares none in her jabs at the publishing industry.

Aspiring writers get a very funny and educational look at the other side of the fence!

This is a sequel to her hilarious poke at romance publishing, Die for Love.

At the time Die For Love was originally published, Clan of the Cave Bear was the big noise on the bestseller lists. Peters does an insightful send up of it, including a laugh out loud visit to a romance convention.

It's worth the price of the book to read her description of the grand entrance of a Barbara Cartland-based character.

Dear heavens, no one wants to see a 80+ dumpling-shaped frump dressed in layers of Cabbage Patch Doll fluffy pink chiffon.

Not ever.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:00 PM   #11
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I've read GWTW more than 100 times, and if anything, that's a conservative estimate. Granted, most of these readings took place in junior high and high school, when I was borderline obsessed with it (the way teenagers sometimes get about things), but I've made a point of reading it at least every year since then. In terms of construction of a popular novel, I think the book is nearly flawless.

It's not flawless overall -- it's very racist, and it's somewhat sexist, and the battles of the Civil War are scheduled in a very bizarre way that doesn't map onto real history at all. But Mitchell creates vivid characters (from Scarlett and Rhett down to people like Cathleen Calvert and Phil Meade), effortlessly handles plot and character development for more than 100 individuals, has an incredible handle on creating rich atmosphere without dragging down the pacing and -- IMHO most brilliant of all -- knows how to create a 'set piece," a blockbuster scene that bowls over the reader and ensures they'll talk to friends. Rhett bidding for Scarlett at the ball while she's a widow -- the burning of Atlanta -- the shooting of the Yankee -- Scarlett attempting to seduce Rhett while he's in jail awaiting hanging -- Scarlett walking into Ashley's birthday party in a sexy gown -- every single one of these would be the highlight of any other novel, and there are something like ten of them in GWTW! And none of them feel contrived, either; every single moment rises naturally from the story, as though it were not only plausible but inevitable. <i>That's</i> craft.

To the question of who changes in the book -- actually, very few of the characters change dramatically overall. They all get older, and to some extent mellower, but only Rhett shows any real evidence that he may have become wiser. (And even in his case, he may only have become more bitter.) Scarlett does mature -- she could hardly fail to, having been only 16 when the book begins -- but the final chapters of the novel show her attaining only the first glimmers of true self-awareness, and she famously casts that aside at the end. She ignores all the solid, sane reasons that should tell her she's lost Rhett forever, declares that tomorrow is another day, and keeps on going.

This is sort of her tragedy and her triumph, in the end: For me, the theme of GWTW is that every human being has a breaking point. (Will Benteen makes this explicit at Gerald O'Hara's funeral.) Every single person, no matter how smart or strong, has something they cannot lose without becoming hollowed out inside. For Ashley, the loss was the genteel, sheltered existence he had before the war. For Gerald, it was Ellen. For Rhett, it was Bonnie. Only Melanie and Scarlett aren't destroyed -- Melanie, because her body gives out, and Scarlett, because at the end of the book she lifts up her head and refuses to be beaten. It's this strength that makes us love her, despite the fact that she's a genuinely unpleasant human being.

Oh, I could go on about this book forever. Must stop.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:02 PM   #12
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I don't get the allegations of racism and sexism. It's a novel of its time. That's how people were in those days. We can't judge the 19th century by the standards of the 21st, otherwise it would be sanitised out of all authenticity.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:09 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gillhoughly View Post
I must have read that book 6 times between the 6th & 7th grades.

Tried the exploitative sequel. What a train wreck. Closed it up soon as I read the cover blurb. Ugh.

For a very sardonic and hilarious look at the exploitative sequel syndrome, please read Elizabeth Peter's Naked Once More.

Her MC is picked to write the sequel to a legendary bestseller and ends up solving the mystery of the original writer's disappearance/death.

Peters spares none in her jabs at the publishing industry.

Aspiring writers get a very funny and educational look at the other side of the fence!

This is a sequel to her hilarious poke at romance publishing, Die for Love.

At the time Die For Love was originally published, Clan of the Cave Bear was the big noise on the bestseller lists. Peters does an insightful send up of it, including a laugh out loud visit to a romance convention.

It's worth the price of the book to read her description of the grand entrance of a Barbara Cartland-based character.

Dear heavens, no one wants to see a 80+ dumpling-shaped frump dressed in layers of Cabbage Patch Doll fluffy pink chiffon.

Not ever.
I second the motion!
Barbara Mertz/Barbara Michaels/Elizabeth Peters books are always an entertaining read, especially these two.
Delicious fun for the romance writers crowd.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:13 PM   #14
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It's not flawless overall -- it's very racist, and it's somewhat sexist, and the battles of the Civil War are scheduled in a very bizarre way that doesn't map onto real history at all.
I agree, but this was written in the 1930s.
Also, the book wasn't written as a study on the Civil War nor the morality--or rather lack of--of slavery, nor a commentary on the differences of the sexes. That said, it was a good read and well-written, drawing the reader into the story where it was hard to put down.
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But Mitchell creates vivid characters (from Scarlett and Rhett down to people like Cathleen Calvert and Phil Meade), effortlessly handles plot and character development for more than 100 individuals, has an incredible handle on creating rich atmosphere without dragging down the pacing
Yes. Exactly!
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:38 PM   #15
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It's sexist and racist by late 20th, early 21st century standards, but not by it's setting or even it's publication date. The idea of races and sexes being "equal" is a fairly recent one. Back in the 30s, there was still segragation and women had only barely entered the work force.

Supposedly, Rhett's character was based on a real person in Margaret Mitchell's past (I can't remember if he was a husband or a boyfriend-type person.) I'd love to know what her thoughts on that godawful sequel would have been. Of course, if that were possible, I don't suppose there'd be a sequel, though.

For me, the biggest problems were that the Ripley version's characters were flat and stereotypes. There were huge contrivances in the plot, and it felt too modern to be taking place in the late 19th century. Not to mention, even though I loved the characters in GWTW, they bored the hell out of me in the sequel.
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Old 06-18-2007, 08:43 PM   #16
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I always wanted to know more about Belle Watling. When I was about twelve I wrote a short story about what happened to Belle after the war -- she and her son went out west, settled in a mining town, and opened up a saloon and made a fortune. Rhett Butler sends money occasionally.

My teacher said it was nicely done, but inappropriate to write about a whorehouse in sixth grade.
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Old 06-18-2007, 09:39 PM   #17
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I always wanted to know more about Belle Watling. When I was about twelve I wrote a short story about what happened to Belle after the war -- she and her son went out west, settled in a mining town, and opened up a saloon and made a fortune. Rhett Butler sends money occasionally.

My teacher said it was nicely done, but inappropriate to write about a whorehouse in sixth grade.
Ah, but it showed you had a great imagination!
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Old 06-18-2007, 09:40 PM   #18
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:12 PM   #19
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I loved GWTW, but I read it only once many years ago. I should reread it again some time. It was certainly a prodct of its time in a way that makes it a document of attitudes in the 1930s as well as a novel about the Civil War.

I closed the sequel when the narrator began explaining how really the slaves enjoyed being slaves, especially the house slaves, and slavery wasn't such a bad system after all. I preferred Mitchell's version of racism, which at least allows the reader to make up her own mind, to the sequel's apologetics.
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:19 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Jersey Chick View Post
It's sexist and racist by late 20th, early 21st century standards, but not by it's setting or even it's publication date. The idea of races and sexes being "equal" is a fairly recent one. Back in the 30s, there was still segragation and women had only barely entered the work force.

Was it outageously sexist and racist by that era's standards? No. but that doesn't make it an unfair thing for us to say about it now. I am a huge, huge fan of this book, and I honestly do study it as a way of studying how popular fiction can and should be written, but that means looking at the flaws as squarely as I do the virtures.

Also, it's not like everyone in the 1930s was blind to the ideas of gender and racial equality; a lot of people were working very hard even then to get us where we are today. It's not like nobody knew any better back then. Mitchell mythologized a way of life that didn't and doesn't deserve that mythology; I enjoy the story thoroughly, but the only way I can do so is by acknowledging where it's genius and where it's, well, sadly short of genius.
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Old 06-18-2007, 10:22 PM   #21
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But why should she write a book according to 1930s standards when it was set 70, 80 years before that? The characters in her book acted in ways that were true to that time, not to the 1930s or any other decade but their own.
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:23 PM   #22
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Slavery/racial issues weren't the focus of MM novel. She wrote her book with as much accuracy to the setting as necessary to tell her story. It might be different if MM was writing about Mammy or Prissy or Pork, but she wasn't... if it's 'racist', it reflected the time.

As for the sequel... Oh. My. Gods. What a waste of paper and ink. And the TV movie! If anything, it was worse. All copies of both book and movie should be burned.
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:27 PM   #23
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You sort of have to keep in mind that Mitchell was brought up on stories of the romanticized South. The Association for the Beautification of the Graves of the Glorious Dead really did exist...scary though that thought may be. She is the child of a generation brought up on stories of the war, she was one of the children who sat on grandpa's knee and learned almost verbatim the "If Stonewall hadn't died" "If we could have kept Atlanta" the ifs ifs ifs of the Civil War in all its refought battles. In a certain segment of Southern culture the antebellum ways of life were preserved and cultivated--the Old Guard's last ditch efforts to retain prominence. I think Mitchell's goal was to accurately portray the roots of theanachronistic behavior that still existed in the thirties.

I read a biography of Mitchell once and was absolutely stunned/horrified at how many of these episodes in GWTW she'd taken from old family papers and stories. What takes it from biographical to brilliance is her approach. She was the daughter of a suffragette. She really wrote the story from that POV. If you're looking at GWTW today come at it from another angle. The novel is set in the America of the 1860s and 1870s--and written by a woman from one of those Old Guard families in Atlanta in the 1920s and 1930s. Applying our agendas onto that would be an injustice to the work. Certainly can't accuse good old Dickens of gender tolerance! Mark Twain was absolutely not a member of the NAACP. I think GWTW is anything BUT sexist. I find it the direct opposite. As for the racism angle, we have to keep the time GWTW was written in consideration. When Hattie mcDaniel won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for GWTW, she wasn't even allowed to sit on the floor with the other nominees or use the same restrooms. Taken from that perspective, GWTW is a reflection not only of the era in which its set but the time in which it was written. *grin* not every generation had the benefits we did.
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Old 06-18-2007, 11:30 PM   #24
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I wouldn't want to read a politically correct edition of GWTW anyway. Authenticity is far more important in novel writing than avoiding causing offence. I couldn't give two hoots who I offend as long as my writing is authentic.

And if I ever write a book with one tenth of the power of GWTW, I'll die a happy woman.
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Old 06-19-2007, 12:48 AM   #25
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Cheers to Hattie, a most brave woman.

I saw a recording of her acceptence speech, which had the phrase "credit to my race."

It makes us cringe now, but it would have gotten her hanged in some parts of the country.

I have always admired her reply when someone asked why she remained in Hollywood playing typecast maid roles. "I'd rather make $700 a week playing a maid than earn $7 a day being a maid,"

And--

"I'm letting no man handle my bank account."

Amen, sister.
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