Welcome back to my journey through Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind! As per usual, I’ll be sharing my thoughts, favorite quotes, and general impressions of this part of the novel. If you’ve just stumbled upon this installments, feel free to read my previous three posts about the first three sections of this hefty tome by clicking here: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3. Now, onward with the fourth and penultimate part!
Be aware that the “Thoughts” section may contain spoilers, but the “Overall” section will be spoiler-free!
- p. 522: Mitchell does an excellent job informing the reader about life during the Reconstruction, including laws, race relations, the economy, etc. I think this time period is so fascinating!
- p. 529: Scarlett is too real for Ashley, while Melanie is a part of his “dreaming.” Will he ever find a balance between harsh reality and his inner dream world?
- p.534: NO, ASHLEY! What are you doing?!?! Don’t kiss Scarlett! You’re married to Melanie!!!
- p. 535: If Ashley has loved Scarlett all this time, then why didn’t he just marry her in the first place?
- p. 563: People suspect Rhett of having millions of dollars worth of gold hiding somewhere? Sounds pretty PIRATE-Y to me! (I stand by my comparison of Rhett with Jack Sparrow.) Also, I really hope he isn’t hanged! I’m desperately holding onto the belief that there’s some potential for him to be a great guy.
- p. 564: I’m surprised by how indifferent Scarlett seems to be about Rhett possibly getting hanged. She doesn’t care if he is killed, so long as she gets his money first. Is this an act, or does he really not matter to her? (I’m leaning towards the former.)
- p. 579: Scarlett’s weathered hands reveal her true status and intentions to Rhett, who astutely deduces that weathered, cracked, callused hands mean that she has been physically working and that therefore there is something wrong at Tara. Because of this, he figures out that Scarlett is there to get his money. Rhett always manages to see right through Scarlett’s performances, which is perhaps why I like him as a character. Scarlett can’t fool him like she can the others, and in this way Rhett keeps her in check.
- p. 594: Now Scarlett wants to steal Frank from her sister simply because Suellen “doesn’t deserve” to be as comfortably married as Scarlett does? Honestly, does Scarlett have ANY boundaries?!
- p. 610: Scarlett is very focused on the future, while everyone else is stuck in and motivated by the past. I think Scarlett is smart to be this way; she might not be as happy as the rest of them, but she will probably be better off financially in the long run.
- p. 614: I love how Frank feels like more of a man, when in reality he is being smoothly manipulated by clever Scarlett. If only he knew! I think this is Mitchell’s way of showing the intelligence, strength, and tenacity of women. Appearances were– and continue to be– misleading.
- p. 641: I think it’s fascinating that Mitchell comes right out and directly says that people think Scarlett is “unsexing” herself. Gender roles and identities play such an interesting role in this novel!
- p. 670: Reference to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Scarlett suggests that it depicts an inaccurate, exaggerated, cruel, dramatized image of slavery that the Yankees accepted “as revelation second only to the Bible.” Such an interesting perspective, and different from what we learn in history classes (in New England, at least).
- p. 680: RHETT HAD A GRANDFATHER WHO WAS A PIRATE. This is proof of my Jack Sparrow theory!!
- p. 686: NOOO GERALD DIED, TOO?!?!?!
- p. 711: I really like Will– he’s wise and practical and hardworking and has a lot of common sense. He might not come from a wealthy family, but I think he’s a step up for Suellen O’Hara! Definitely better than Frank would have been!
- p. 762: Another pirate reference! This time from Scarlett. Once again, my theory stands strong!
- p. 798: Ashley and Frank are in the Ku Klux Klan?!?! SOMETHING REALLY BAD IS ABOUT TO HAPPEN, I CAN SENSE IT.
- p. 811: FRANK IS DEAD?!?!?!?!
- p. 831: OH MY GOODNESS IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING: Rhett asked Scarlett to marry him! She better say yes– I’ve been waiting over 800 pages for this moment to finally arrive!!
- p. 835: SHE SAID YES!! However, the way it finally happened was a bit too aggressive for my liking. I didn’t expect Rhett to be so violently forceful.
“Unfortunately, we Southerners did think we were gods.” (p. 527)
This quote comes from Ashley, who describes the war as a Götterdämmerung, or “a dusk of the gods.” Not only is it an interesting portrayal of Southerners, but it’s also just a beautiful descriptive word. Somehow Ashley always manages to express himself so elegantly!
“A startling thought this, that a woman could handle business matters as well as or better than a man, a revolutionary thought to Scarlett who had been reared in the tradition that men were omniscient and women none too bright.” (p. 620)
So feminist– I love it! Mitchell smartly emphasizes the role that societal norms and traditions play in perpetuating both gender inequality and stereotypes. Also, she implicitly brings up the nature vs. nurture discussion, in this case arguing that women are not actually less intelligent than men; rather, they are raised to believe it is true, and therefore they behave accordingly.
“Now her reactions were all masculine. Despite her pink cheeks and dimples and pretty smiles, she talked and acted like a man. Her voice was brisk and decisive and she made up her mind instantly with no girlish shilly-shallying. She knew what she wanted and she went after it by the shortest route, like a man, not by the hidden and circuitous routes peculiar to women.” (p. 639)
Scarlett is reproduced as a man in the eyes of Frank, and he is greatly disturbed by her masculine behavior. This passage stands out to me because it is such a direct description of how Scarlett seems to “unsex” herself through her actions and personality.
“The former slaves were now the lords of creation and, with the aid of the Yankees, the lowest and most ignorant ones were on top. The better class of them, scorning freedom, were suffering as severely as their white masters.” (p. 654)
Reconstruction turns the social hierarchy upside down, contributing even more sources of conflict to the already tense South. Passages like this one emphasize the importance and influence of such a tumultuous setting like the post Civil War South.
“They didn’t understand negroes or the relations between the negroes and their former masters. Yet they had fought a war to free them. And having freed them, they didn’t want to have anything to do with them, except to use them to terrorize the Southerners.” (pp. 674)
Scarlett views Yankees as hypocrites due to the ironic fact that they wanted to free the slaves, yet now the Yankee women refuse to allow black servants to care for their children. I guess I haven’t really considered what the opinions of the Southerners would be of the Yankees regarding slavery prior to reading this novel, so I think this is very interesting!
“The whole world can’t lick us but we can lick ourselves by longing too hard for things we haven’t got any more– and by remembering too much.” (pp. 716)
A lovely quote from Will! I think these are important words of wisdom for everyone to understand: sometimes, the real danger is ourselves.
So much happened towards the end of this part that I hardly know what to think. Once again, I love the way Mitchell blends actual events of the Reconstruction seamlessly with the fictional lives of Scarlett, Melanie, Rhett, etc. There were also some very interesting discussions of gender roles in this section, further supporting my belief that Gone with the Wind is indeed a feminist novel. The way Scarlett steps out of the confines of the domestic sphere and boldly entered the masculine space of business is both exciting and inspiring. She knows what she needs and wants, and she isn’t going to wait around for her husband to bring it to her. Scarlett certainly has her flaws, but I can’t help but admire her resiliency, determination, and independence. If only the rest of Atlanta shared my admiration!
My appreciation of Melanie as a character has also grown throughout this section. She is unfailingly kind, selfless, and thoughtful, but she is much stronger than initially suggested by her delicate appearance. In times of need she always rises up to the occasion, surprising everyone with her inner fiery spirit. She may be the embodiment of the Old South, but that isn’t to say that she doesn’t have a spark of the “New” South in her, too.
Only one more part left to read! What will I do when I’ve finally finished this brilliant novel?
What are your thoughts on Gone with the Wind? Let me know in the comments section below!