I’ve done it: I have finally started to read Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell! This tome has been calling to me from my TBR shelf for far too long, so I decided that there’s no better time to read it like the present. Due to its hefty size (my copy has 1037 pages!!) I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts as I make my way through the novel. I’ll be posting something like this after reading each of the five parts. Not only will this allow for more in-depth discussion about the book, but it will also help me keep all of my thoughts straight as I meander through this thousand-page story!
Without further ado, here are some of the thoughts I had while reading Part 1! Be aware that the “Thoughts” section may contain spoilers, but the “Overall” section will be spoiler-free!
- p. 3: The description of Scarlett is stereotypically feminine: teensy waist, emphasized breasts, pale white skin. However, the tone suggests that it is just a disguise or act, for “her true self was poorly concealed.”
- p. 14: Scarlett can “control” when men fall in love with or “notice” her, gives her a sense of agency.
- p. 15: The Yankees view Southerners as “uncivilized barbarians”
- p. 17: Social hierarchy even amongst slaves (better to belong to large planters than small farmers, etc.)
- p. 29: Gerald O’Hara is only five feet tall?!?!?! I love how his personality makes him seem so much bigger.
- p. 30: Scarlett and Gerald share many similar qualities– does this reproduce her as masculine?
- p. 60: Scarlett views behavior as a sort of mathematical formula (if she does x, then guys will do y, etc.). She also views her mother as a holy/Virgin Mary figure, the only woman she does not feel competitive with.
- p. 77: Mammy emphasizes that girls shouldn’t be seen eating a lot in public because it isn’t considered ladylike. I think this helps explain some of the body image issues and stereotypes surrounding modern women to this day.
- p. 79: Expectations of women before getting married vs. when they are wives… Completely ridiculous!!
- p. 96: For some reason, the description of Rhett Butler makes me think of Jack Sparrow.
- p. 123: Although Scarlett does act rather poorly at times, she nevertheless takes responsibility for her actions and recognizes (at least inwardly) that her behavior wasn’t morally sound. In other words, she wouldn’t completely fit in with the Mean Girls clique.
- p. 125: NO SCARLETT DON’T MARRY CHARLES YOU NEED A GUY WITH SPUNK. HE ISN’T RIGHT FOR YOU.
- p. 126: NOOOOOOOOOOO.
- p. 128: CHARLES DIED?!?!?!?! I know it’s sad and horrific for him to die so young, but an awful part of me is sort of relieved that Scarlett snow free to marry someone she actually loves. Also, I think Charles would have deserved to marry a girl who actually loved him back– unlike Scarlett, who was just using him to deal with her own confusing jumble of emotions and love-sickness over Ashley.
- p. 132: SHE HAD A CHILD?!?!?! Poor Scarlett: she definitely wasn’t ready to be a mother. But she probably shouldn’t have rushed into a marriage with Charles to begin with…
- p. 134: Expectations of widows are WAY TOO strict and oppressive.
“As usual in the very young, she marveled that people could be so selfishly oblivious to her pain and the world rock along just the same, in spite of her heartbreak.” (p. 63)
This is one of the reasons why Scarlett is such an easy character to relate with: I think we’ve all experienced this frustrating feeling at one point or another.
“She lay in the silvery shadows with courage rising and made the plans that a sixteen-year-old makes when life has been so pleasant that defeat is an impossibility and a pretty dress and a clear complexion are weapons to vanquish fate.” (p. 73)
What a fantastic line! Mitchell certainly understands what it feels like to be caught up in the invincibility of youth.
“… for at no time, before or since, had so low a premium been placed on feminine naturalness.” (p. 80)
As of right now, I definitely think that this is shaping up to be a great feminist novel!
I love this book already! Scarlett keeps me on my toes with her complex, spontaneous personality, and the Civil War backdrop is both dramatic and fascinating. I didn’t see the ending of this first part coming AT ALL, and I can’t wait to see what happens next. Hopefully Scarlett’s future is brighter than her past!
What are your thoughts on Gone with the Wind? Let me know in the comments section below!