Welcome to this second installment in my Thoughts While Reading Gone with the Wind series! As you can probably tell from the title, I’ll be sharing my thoughts as I read this classic American tome by Margaret Mitchell. Since the novel is divided into five parts, there will be five installments in this series. Be sure to check out my thoughts on Part 1 here!
Be aware that the “Thoughts” section may contain spoilers, but the “Overall” section will be spoiler-free!
- p. 141: Interesting parallels between Scarlett and Atlanta, Georgia (shared characteristics, the town was Christened the same year Scarlett was born, etc.).
- p. 144: Role reversal: Peter, Charles’ family slave, “owns the three of us, body and soul, and he knows it.” An unusual portrayal of a slave during this time period.
- p. 153: I love the importance placed on visiting in the South. It would be so fun to travel and stay with different friends and family members for months at a time. Although I suppose this is only a trend followed by the wealthy, because you wouldn’t be able to travel so much and hold down a steady job at the same time.
- p. 172: Scarlett sees the war and the Cause with more clarity than most others, or at least she’s one of the few who is willing to acknowledge it.
- p. 190: The party turns into a kind of “slave auction,” with men bidding on girls to dance with. Shows how women were often viewed as controllable property during this time period.
- p. 191: GO SCARLETT! GO DANCE YOUR HEART OUT WITH RHETT BUTLER.
- p. 207: Scarlett manipulates Gerald so easily, knows how to cleverly get what she wants.
- p. 215: According to Scarlett, marriage and love are not necessarily synonymous (for example, she was married to Charles but she loves Ashley).
- p. 217: It’s interesting to see the South’s perspective of the Civil War. Living in New England, I’m so used to viewing it as a Northerner would and learning about it in school from a more “Yankee” perspective. The narrative makes you realize that the majority of southerners saw no harm in what they were doing, upheld the Peculiar Institution and their way of life, and fully supported the Cause (or at least outwardly pretended to).
- p. 233: Melanie finally breaks out of her shell! Is Melanie a foil for Scarlett? They are in similar situations, but have very different personalities.
- p. 241: I love how this novel feels as much like a commentary on Southern lifestyle before and during the Civil War as it does a tale of romance.
- p. 250: Scarlett’s realization that ALL men– not just “commoners”– are capable of “consorting” with prostitutes highlights her naivety. Also, it’s interesting to see how much of a stigma there was surrounding prostitutes and how it has lingered into our modern society.
- p. 262: I forgot all about Scarlett’s son until Melanie just mentioned him. It reminds me of how Daisy Buchanan’s daughter is hardly mentioned in The Great Gatsby. Both women don’t strike me as motherly figures in the slightest.
- p. 277: Wow, good for Scarlett for finally telling Ashley how she feels! She certainly has her flaws, but she is undoubtedly very brace. Even though it would have been romantic for Ashley to respond to her declaration of love in kind, I admire his loyalty to Melanie.
- p. 283: MELANIE IS PREGNANT! Also, I think it’s incredibly selfish of Scarlett to react so harshly to the news. She knows how kind and sensitive Melanie is, and it isn’t Melanie’s fault that Scarlett can’t accept the fact that Ashley is a married man who has the right to have a child with his wife.
- p. 286: I can’t believe Melanie would rather Ashley die in prison than help the Yankees and have a chance of returning to Georgia at some point, especially since she’s pregnant and will have to raise his child.
“How could anything but overwhelming victory come to a Cause as just and right as theirs? A Cause they loved as much as they loved their men, a Cause they served with their hands and their hearts, a Cause they talked about, thought about, dreamed about– a Cause to which they would sacrifice these men if need be, and bear their loss as proudly as the men bore their battle flags.” (p. 171)
The women have so much faith in the men and the Cause. It reminds me of a sort of religious war in the way they are blindly devoted to a romanticized, idealized Cause. Hearing Rhett’s criticism of this blind devotion is so refreshing– finally, some common sense!
“I do not know what the future will bring, but it cannot be as beautiful or as satisfying as the past.” (p. 212)
I just think this is a beautiful quote. Thanks, Ashley!
“The ever-present war in the background lent a pleasant informality to social relations, an informality which older people viewed with alarm.” (p. 218)
It’s interesting to take note of the many ways that war changed social norms for civilians. Also, this quote stood out to me because of its startling juxtaposition of a brutal war and a more relaxed, fun social life.
“Scarlett was back again where she had been before she married Charles and it was as if she had never married him, never felt the shock of his death, never borne Wade. War a marriage and childbirth had passed over her without touching any deep chord with her and she was unchanged.” (p. 219)
I feel as though Scarlett does not care about the rest of the world or things besides herself as much as she should. Her husband died! She has a son! There is a war going on! How can she be so indifferent?
In this second part I was particularly impressed by the meticulous research Margaret Mitchell must have done to be able to include such minute details about wartime conditions. From battles and locations to economic struggles and political strife, Mitchell has certainly covered all of her factual bases. It’s clear that Gone with the Wind is so much more than simple romance novel: it is a commentary on war, Southern life, and a woman’s role in society. Moreover, I love watching the parallels between Scarlett and Melanie unfold, and I can’t wait to see what happens with Rhett Butler. There are over 700 pages left, meaning that a plethora of unpredictable events are bound to occur!
Part 3, here I come!
What are your thoughts on Gone with the Wind? Let me know in the comments section below!