Chicks On Lit discussion

139 views
Group Read Book Discussions > GWTW Chunky Read *spoilers likely*

Comments (showing 1-50 of 210) (210 new)    post a comment »

message 1: by Jo (last edited Oct 01, 2010 06:21AM) (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments Welcome to our Gone With The Wind chunky read discussion! I hope you're all enjoying it so far.


Here's the read & discuss schedule again in case anyone didn't see the link to it in the Next Chunky Read thread:
Fri 10/1 - Thurs 10/7:
Discuss ch's 1-6
Read ch's 7-13

Fri 10/8 - Thurs 10/14:
Discuss ch's 7-13
Read ch's 14-22

Fri 10/15 - Thurs 10/21:
Discuss ch's 14-22
Read ch's 23-29

Fri 10/22 - Thurs 10/28:
Discuss ch's 23-29
Read ch's 30-36

Fri 10/29 - Thurs 11/4:
Discuss ch's 30-36
Read ch's 37-41

Fri 11/5 - Thurs 11/11:
Discuss ch's 37-41
Read ch's 42-49

Fri 11/12 - Thurs 11/19:
Discuss ch's 42-49
Read ch's 50-end

Starting 11/20:
Discuss ch's 50-end

Here are some links which you may find useful!

About the author~
Link to Literary Traveler bio of Margaret Mitchell:
http://www.literarytraveler.com/autho...
Link to Wikipedia bio of Ms. Mitchell:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret...
Link to another, shorter bio of Ms. Mitchell:
http://kirjasto.sci.fi/mmitchel.htm
Link for The Margaret Mitchell House museum:
http://www.margaretmitchellhouse.com/

GWTW was written from 1926-1929. To get an idea of our world during those years leading up to The Great Depression:
1926: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1926
1927: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1927
1928: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928
1929: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1929

The novel is initially set as the Civil War is about to begin:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American...
And continues in the Post Civil War (South):
http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/reco...


Starting today, this week we're discussing chapters 1 through 6 (while reading chapters 7 through 13 for next week).

For those, like me, who are reading GWTW for the first time, what are your initial feelings on the novel? Is it what you've expected? What are your initial thoughts on Scarlet?

For those rereading GWTW for this discussion, are you liking it as much as the previous time(s) you read it? What makes the novel so special for you that you'll reread it often?


message 2: by Marialyce (last edited Oct 01, 2010 02:36PM) (new)

Marialyce Yes, Jo, it is more than I expected. I loved the way Mitchell has introduced all her characters. One gets the feel of the real South and the uppity nature of Scarlet. She is quite the femme fatale! I was interested to read that she was not beautiful but did know how to work those long lashes and green eyes. The men are certainly pawns in her hands. ....all except Rhett who already has her pegged.


Em (EmmaP) Hello, I am reading GWTW for the first time - I wasn't sure what to expect on picking this up but remember enjoying the film albeit 20 years ago so have only vague recollections about it.

Six chapters into the book and long though it is, I'm not feeling daunted in the slightest I love the style of it and already have such strong images in my mind about the place, time and people - bearing in mind I haven't so much as visited Southern USA. I was aware of the period of history in which the novel is set but still reading about slavery and "owning" people in such an accepting, everyday kind of way was quite eye opening to the sensibilities of the time!

The characters are well sketched, we know a little about a lot of people and I for one can't wait to know more. Scarlet is formidable, flawed I know but what a wonderful character - she is conceited, selfish, strong willed but I like that she goes her own way. Still, wouldn't want her near my husband/fiance or whatever!


Monica (Imelda85) | 458 comments This book is one of my favorites! Even though Scarlett is quite a handful, you have to admire her determination! Margaret Mitchell really brought the south to life through her writing.


Shay | 284 comments This is my first time reading GWTW. I will admit that I am going into it with the attitude of "this had better be a good book considering the fact that it sentementalizes slavery." This, however, was my mother's favorite book, which I never understood. My grandfather's family came to this country as, basically, indentured servents and worked on a plantation. I look at pictures of my great-grandmother and she was old before her time, bent, stooped, tired, and bitter looking.

I'm about a chapter in and I will admit to seeing the appeal. Not about slavery or that whole way of life, but with the character of Scarlett. She is like the spoiled child we all were when we were young, except, because of her beauty, wealth, personality, etc, she didn't have to grow out of it. It's a pleasant fantasy. Reminds me of the character Lisbeth Salander in that I think at times I wish I had whatever combination required to be free enough that you didn't have to pretend, to be able to say and do as you wanted whenever you wanted to. You know, that people would have to accept you as you really are and indulge you because ____________. (Fill in the blanks with because you're rich, beautiful, powerful, etc., enough to get away with it.)


Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments Shay, I thank you for sharing that bit of family history with us and I'm glad you're giving the book a chance with us to see what else it has to offer. Did you ever discuss with your mother why this was her favorite novel?

Scarlet isn't beautiful as Mitchell says but she is very different than most Southern women at the time in that she's much less reserved and concerned with being conventional than most. She reminds me of a lot of girls I went to school with when we were that age when it comes to boys & men!

I loved how Mitchell describes how red the dirt was in the Spring (towards the beginning) - I'd never pictured it like that before.


Viola | 979 comments GWTW is one of my all time favorite novels. I probably won't re-read the book right now, but I'd still like to participate in the discussion based upon what I remember and from flipping through the book.

I love the book because I love Scarlett, and I remember that I loved her from the very first page. All of her selfish, flirtatious, manipulative ways were described in such a realistic way. I can completely picture her character. I loved how Mitchell portrays Scarlett without any judgment. Unapologetically honest about all of Scarlett's flaws.

The only thing "wrong" with Mitchell's description of Scarlett is that she was indeed beautiful, despite the opening sentence. I can't picture Scarlett being not beautiful. She might not have been the most beautiful girl, but in my mind, she most definitely was beautiful.


Britt☮ (genki_bee) I'm reading GWTW for the first time, and my first thought was shock at the appallingly racist attitudes of the characters and the author. I realize that the book is a portrayal of the south from white southerners' point of view, but knowing that still didn't prepare me for what I've read so far. I'm trying to ignore it and focus on Scarlett's story, but when I think about the fact that the people I'm reading about would have looked at me that way had I been alive then, it's hard for me to stomach.


Sarah (SarahSaysRead) Darn, I forgot to pick this up at the library yesterday. I'll have to stop by tomorrow and get it so I can catch up!

I started this book earlier in the year and didn't get very far... not sure what it was exactly, but it wasn't holding my interest right away and I think the size of it was kind of daunting. Looking forward to re-starting it though and hopefully keeping up with the discussions will help me stay motivated!


Aimee (akbaum) I read this book about 20 years ago and so far I am really enjoying reading it again. I am so impressed with the amount of detail put into all of the characters. I can really get a vivid picture in my mind of how every one looked and dressed. The thing that surprises me is it is not just the main characters. Mitchell spends a lot of time on the minor characters as well. One of my favorites is Mrs. Tarleton. I loved the description of her, definitely not one of your usual southern ladies.


message 11: by Jo (last edited Oct 02, 2010 09:28AM) (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments Britt, I find those parts difficult too - the South before the Civil War (and even for a long time afterwards) was a very different world and very difficult to understand now. I do hope you're able to continue with it but understand if you don't.

How does everyone feel so far about the issues of race and slavery as they're dealt with in GWTW?

Also, why do you think society still considered Gerald O'Hara a gentleman? Is it because he married Ellen who was from a wealthy family? Do you think his kindness alone let them drop their class distinctions?


Janice George (JG) | 131 comments Britt☮ wrote: "I'm reading GWTW for the first time, and my first thought was shock at the appallingly racist attitudes of the characters and the author. I realize that the book is a portrayal of the south from wh..."


I think it is important to realize from the outset that Margaret Mitchell was neither a racist nor a mysogonist... her depiction of the south, and the southern white attitude towards both men & women, slaves & landowners, class & caste, could almost be a parody if it wasn't also obvious that Mitchell had great love for people, even people who were seemingly hopelessly ignorant.

Mitchell is ruthless in her depiction of Scarlett -- we have no doubts about her self-centeredness, her shallowness, her bigotry, and her sense of entitlement... but she is a product of her upbringing. She is the perfect example of how women were modeled in that horrific stereotypical female archetype.

Why we love Scarlett is because of her restlessness and impatience with the role she has been poured into. That doesn't mean Scarlett isn't a product of the times and the environment (because she is), but there is a crack in the veneer... and even tho' the crack is no more than the thrust of Scarlett's ego and vanity and wilfullness, it is still a crack. It is the beginning of the end.

I am re-reading this book for the umpteenth time, and I am still amazed at Mitchell's writing skill. Every character is true to him/herself, and Mitchell never interjects herself into the story. If you read the bios, it will be obvious that Mitchell was a liberationist of the most profound sort. She was a working woman with a great mind and a great talent. In the south in the 1920's, women were treated about equally to "Negros" in that they were still relegated to the stereotypical 2nd class citizenry with no rights and no voice.

Somehow Mitchell was able to gather in the big picture, which included not just the history of the Civil War and Reconstruction, but the history of change, or rather, what changes and what does not change.

I've always thought the story of how this book was found and published is indicative of how important this book is for the American psyche... the manuscript sat in a corner of her bedroom, under the bed, stacked in boxes, until someone in the publishing business came to the door and asked to see it. It is, of course, any writer's fantasy to not have to peddle a manuscript, and Margaret's story is a writer's dream come true... and, to my mind, the absolute work of destiny.


message 13: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments Janice, well said! Well said indeed! From what I have read, I agree that Mitchell was definitely not a racist and did what gifted writers are able to do which is to bring you into a time period, a story or a situation (good or bad) which you may not be familiar with and make you feel as though you're experiencing it.


Janice George (JG) | 131 comments My favorite passage in the first six chapters
(I'll try to type it correctly):

"Try a hot cake," said Mammy inexorably.
"Why is it a girl has to be so silly to catch a husband?"
"Ah specs it's kase gempmums doan know what dey wants. Dey jes' knows whut dey thinks dey wants. An' givin' dem whut dey thinks dey wants saves a pile of mizry an' bein' a ole maid. An' dey thinks dey wants mousy lil gals wid bird's tastes an' no sense at all. It doan make a gempmum feel lak mahyin' a lady ef he suspicions she got mo' sense dan he has."

Besides the context of this passage, what I admire is Mitchell's ability to spell out the local southern pidgin so that it is not only phonetically & rhythmically correct, but actually readable. I lived in Hawaii for many years, and learning the local pidgin was challenging enough... attempting to write it was another learning curve entirely.

I also love that she used the word 'inexorably'... when is the last time you've seen that word in print? It gives Mammy's stubborness an edge (maybe it's the letter 'x' that does it), but takes away the inherent violence that might reside in a synonym like 'ruthless,' because Mammy would never in a milion years treat Scarlett with violence.


message 15: by Em (new)

Em (EmmaP) I find the portrayal of slavery difficult reading. It's the one thing that hit me immediately - how casually the characters talk about "owning" slaves. I didn't assume that the writer herself is necessarily racist, I took it that she was reflecting the attitudes of the time and that although something is uncomfortable to acknowledge maybe it's important that people do know and remember that this was a reality.

As to Gerald, totally self-made and you've got to admire guts like that! Is he accepted because he is liked? There seemed to be an element of that to me, also that it doesn't occur to him that he would be anything but accepted. I'm sure that marrying Ellen secured his position within society.


Britt☮ (genki_bee) Janice Geranium wrote: "My favorite passage in the first six chapters
(I'll try to type it correctly):

"Try a hot cake," said Mammy inexorably.
"Why is it a girl has to be so silly to catch a husband?"
"Ah specs it'..."


I'm not finding the slaves' quotes easily readable at all. I have to read them out loud two or three times to be able to understand what they're trying to say. I also find it interesting that when a white person says "from," it's spelled correctly, but when a slave says it, it's spelled "frum." I could have sworn they're pronounced the same...


message 17: by Rebecca (last edited Oct 04, 2010 04:44AM) (new)

Rebecca  | 981 comments Any pictures available online as to what Scarlett mansion/plantation might have looked liked?


Shay | 284 comments Britt, I agree. I find that Mitchell is not good at capturing dialect. I'm finding it stilted. To see a really great author, who is a master at capturing dialect in a way that is lyrical and incredibly readable, read Their Eyes Were Watching God. Mitchell doesn't even come close to Hurston's mastery of this.


message 19: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments I think what happens many times in novels, when it comes to dialects, words are spelled as someone (perhaps the author perhaps how it's been recorded elsewhere) feels they sounded as opposed to their correct spelling to try and give you the experience of a particular dialect. I've especially found this to be the case in southern lit, for both white and black characters all the way through contemporary southern lit.

Rebecca, I'll look into seeing if I can find photo's of homes/plantations similiar to Mitchell's descriptions and if I find anything, I'll post the links here when I do.


message 20: by Jo (last edited Oct 04, 2010 08:20AM) (new)


Janice George (JG) | 131 comments Jo wrote: "Hm, here are some photo's which may resemble Tara but they're not close enough to the Tara in my mind's eye: (Then again, I doubt any photo would be, lol!)

http://architecture.about.com/b/2009/12/..."



Here is a YouTube of Belmont Plantation, a pre-war Georgia plantation, with a tour of the furnished interior, some of the grounds, plus a few original outbuildings, for prospective buyers. I can picture the O'Hares here...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkKy80...


message 22: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments Great link Janice!


Janice George (JG) | 131 comments Another video of a plantation (Louisiana)... this is a historic tour of interior and grounds. Guide is a young African-American woman in costume. Original furnishings, lighting, 300 year-old oaks lining entrance road, no outbuildings...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3EtQV...


message 25: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments I didn't think to look on YouTube, thanks Janice! These are great!


message 26: by Em (new)

Em (EmmaP) Thanks for these links, really interesting.

I haven't found the dialect parts that easy to follow, I had to slow down and even try to say it out loud although, I think I've got the gist all the same. I thought it might be because I don't have much of an ear for accents. Come to think of it I've struggled with all sorts of books when the writer uses a phonetic approach to illustrate an accent or whatever! It hasn't spoiled my overall enjoyment of the story so far.


Rebecca  | 981 comments Thank you Jo + others. I have enjoyed browsing the links. I am loving this book. So far I am loving Mammy. I also like Mitchells dramatic telling of interactions and relationships in the O'Hara household.


message 28: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments Sometimes I struggled with the phonetic approach too Em!

You're welcome Rebecca!


Janice George (JG) | 131 comments Britt☮ wrote: "I'm not finding the slaves' quotes easily readable at all. I have to read them out loud two or three times to be able to understand what they're trying to say. I also find it interesting that when a white person says "from," it's spelled correctly, but when a slave says it, it's spelled "frum." I could have sworn they're pronounced the same... "

The reason I mentioned Mammy's phrasing and dialect in that paragraph is because I think Mitchell used it to further distinguish between the classes. 'Frum' vs 'from' indicates a distinct division between literate and illiterate characters, used to impress upon the reader the incredible chasm between these two races. It occurs to me that maybe Mitchell meant to make the reading uncomfortable, and to slow the reader down.

Mammy *couldn't* say anything other than 'frum' because she would have been stepping dangerously out of her assigned caste. Slaves were rarely to never able to read, and being "uppity" by using proper English or manners was often punishable by whipping.

While this is history, it is hardly a dead issue. About 15 years ago I spent some time in the state of Virginia. One incident that stands out in my mind was at a restaurant, where I walked up to stand in line to pay at the register... a middle-aged African-American man was in the line ahead of me. When it was his turn at the register, he stepped out of line and indicated I should go first. I tried to refuse, but both he and the cashier said I should go first. It was a very tense, confusing, and (to me) appalling situation. They took it in stride much better than I did.


Janice George (JG) | 131 comments Jo wrote: "I didn't think to look on YouTube, thanks Janice! These are great!"


Well, I suspect I am an addicted YouTuber, any excuse to run over there and window shop... heh


Jane (JaneLitChic) | 13 comments Like some of you I felt quite uncomfortable with the treatment of slavery, but realise that it is portraying a particular time in history and attitudes that existed then. Does anyone else think that this theme would be treated differently if GWTW was written today? I think the treatment would probably be a lot more sensitive. It's shocking to think that when GWTW was first published (i.e. my grandmothers' generation) there were plenty of people who would agree with the southern attitude towards anyone who wasn't a white southerner.

On another point, I thought Margaret Mitchell was quite observant of a woman's place in society at the time (Scarlett seems to break the mold on this!). This quote from p.59 (60th anniversary edition) seems to sum it up:

"Ellen's life was not easy, nor was it happy, but she did not expect life to be easy, and, if it was not happy, that was [a] woman's lot. It was a man's world, and she accepted it as such. The man owned the property, and the woman managed it. The man took the credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness. The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him."

One final thing, I'm also finding the phonetic speech of characters such as Mammy a little difficult. Unfortunately my New Zealand accent isn't really helpful with working out the dialect!


message 32: by Jo (last edited Oct 05, 2010 07:21AM) (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments Are you surprised at the general attitude towards education in GWTW? Gerald, Scarlett, and others refer to Ashley's studies as "foolishness." If art and literature are unimportant to so many, what qualities do you think were admired in the novel?

Why do you think the Slatterys, referred to as "white trash" by both wealthier white neighbors and poor slaves, refused to sell their land? Was it just the money aspect that lead others to refer to them in such a way?

Do you think Scarlett more resembles the men around her in their society than the women in her actions and personality?

What do you think of Rhett's proclaiming that the Yankees will easily prevail over the South because the South had no cannon factories or navy to keep their ports open then ducking out before the men around him can respond?

Do you find Rhett hypocritical when after hearing her confess her love to Ashley he teases her unladylike manner which isn’t generally the way of a Southern “gentleman”?


message 33: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2510 comments Mod
I don't know that art and literature where unimportant they just weren't useful as a man. Women were encouraged to paint or read but that was their luxury. Men were men and they needed to be in most cases. Appreciating the negative space of a painting wasn't of much use when crops needed to be managed, planning harvest, sales and planting were paramount. Ashley had the luxury to study those things but how useful was it? How usefull would it prove to be in the months to come? A country is preparing for war, he lives in a still rugged country world and he devotes his energies and time to that.

Qualities that I think that were more admirable were hard work, first hand knowledge of their land, animal sense, determination, drive, physical strength and political awareness. Not sure Ashley had many if any of these but he came from a good family and I think ultimately that made up for his short comings in the social eye.


Shay | 284 comments Jo wrote: "Shay, I thank you for sharing that bit of family history with us and I'm glad you're giving the book a chance with us to see what else it has to offer. Did you ever discuss with your mother why th..."

I think that Scarlett did have whatever combination of looks, personality, and attitude that she was regarded as beautiful. (Which amounts to the same thing or even better than actually being physically a great beauty.)

My mom and I had many discussion, over the years, about this book. I had a lot of objections to it because I could not understand looking back with longing upon a time when you could own other people. My mom's love for this book was actually a love of the character Scarlett. My mom was one of that generation of women who came of age during the women's rights movement. So, to her, Scarlett was a feminist figure in many ways. She felt that a lot of women, of her generation, thought little of themselves. They didn't feel they had the right to be treated fairly or feel enough self-worth to demand to be treated well. So, I guess you could say she felt all woment needed to have a little Scarlett in them. Also, she liked that Scarlett was a survivor. That despite (or maybe because) of how spoiled and self-absorbed she was that she would overcome what she had to in order to have the life she was due. Yes, Scarlett was an extreme form of representation for this in the sense that you couldn't get away with it in real life and you probably wouldn't want to either. That's also why she felt that the South, of this era was one of the few times when a character like Scarlett could have realistically existed. (And, yes, we often argued about why it had to be set in that time and place.) So, while she conceded that it was offensive, she thought that it was necessary for the character of Scarlett. She felt that it was less a novel about the South, slavery, and The Civil War as it was a novel about Scarlett.


Aimee (akbaum) In regard to Jo's question about Rhett stating the South could not win and then leaving before the men could respond, I think he knew exactly what the men would answer in return. I think he also realized how passionate these men were, especially at that moment, about what he said. If he would have stayed it would have turned into a very nasty argument with things said on both sides. It would have been bad manners for Rhett to continue that argument at a party, so he decided to leave before things got out of hand. Of course it was bad manners to bring up the fact they couldn't win in the first place, but it seems he couldn't help himself.


Marialyce Thank you everyone for those great insights into slave and plantation life.

Do you find Rhett hypocritical when after hearing her confess her love to Ashley he teases her unladylike manner which isn’t generally the way of a Southern “gentleman

I don't find Rhett to be anything but truthful. I think he is well aware of Scarlet's behavior and the type of person she is. Rhett has been "around the corner" a few times and is well equipped to call things as he see them. To me, that is what makes him so endearing. He is not the frilly Southern man we come to know in the beginning of this novel, but one who has strong opinions and is not afraid to voice them. He is a good match to Scarlet who also is not afraid of expressing herself in any manner she desires.


message 37: by Rebecca (last edited Oct 06, 2010 11:18AM) (new)

Rebecca  | 981 comments Are you surprised at the general attitude towards education in GWTW? Gerald, Scarlett, and others refer to Ashley's studies as "foolishness." If art and literature are unimportant to so many, what qualities do you think were admired in the novel?

Yes, This was one of the things I had wondered about very first. I considered there to be alot of factors to look at: sex, enviroment, region, family status. I am interested in the region aspect?

I think Gerald had it summed up right in his statement about land. I think of East of Eden and literature from that time period having alot to say about the land because the land was life in everyday life considering the time period if you couldn't produce and sustain yourself what other hope did you have?

I dont think it should be taken that art and literature were unimportant I rather think about priorities came first for survival rather than hobbies or interests. If you think of Maslow's hiarchy of needs which place physical needs first and if those are met really the rest takes a flying leap when you think about it.

I think Gerald is also a good example of what was encouraged and admired as qualities. Working the land, taking care of your family and raising them to be respectable and to be respected are a few.

I love Scarlett because I think alot like Shay. She maybe was groundbreaking for the idea that women didn't have to be stereotyped into roles that were traditionally held.

I for sure was a Scarlett growing up. I loved to play with my brother's friends and was much more happy playing He-man or StarWars and swinging rope in the canal behind our neighbors house.
Scarlett behavior showed us its ok for women to feel and be happy in other roles. But as much as I think she really envied the role of her father minus the politics and war which was probably due to the fact that men fewer restrictions. I think she also wanted to embrace her feminine side was well which she admired in her mother.


Jessica (jwilliams1284) | 12 comments First of all...GWTW is one of my absolute favorite books of all time. I think Mitchell was a phenomenal writer with a passion for people and for bringing those human relationships to life on paper.

I wanted to respond to Jo when she asked how everyone was feeling about the issues of race and slavery in the novel. I think we have to remember that this novel was first published in 1936. While this was well after the civil war, it was right in the middle of one of the thickest racial divides in our country's history. I don't find the passages about race and slavery difficult to read at all. I think that if the society was portrayed any differently, the novel would not be as powerful as it is and has been for decades.

While it is difficult to think about how life in this country truly was before the civil war (and after), it is an important part of our history and there is much to be learned from it. This is why GWTW is one of my favorite novels. Mitchell paints such a true picture of life in those times holding nothing back about the casual nature of owning slaves.

I don't believe Mitchell was racist, in fact I believe the contrary. I think she was brave in publishing this novel and portraying a slave owning family who treated their slaves with some semblance of "respect". Gerald owned many slaves in the novel but Mitchell made it clear that the slaves did not respond to his "bellowing" voice, in fact there was only ever one whipping on the plantation. His slaves lived a relatively carefree life (in terms of slave life in those times) as opposed to slaves on neighboring plantations.

She brings history to life through her characters, how they interact and how they live their lives everyday. I think this is why GWTW has survived the hands of time and remains a classic of American Literature.


message 39: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2510 comments Mod
Isn't that one of the primary critisims though? I love GWTW too but cmon her portrayal of slavery is rather romanticized. She makes no commentary on slavery being bad. Mitchell's images of slavery come close to saying they were happy and content and would have stayed on being slaves if given the choice because they enjoyed their lives so much. Really!?
I'm trying not to jump ahead in making my point but if GWTW were your primary image of the south before, during and after the war certainly slavery would not be a major cause of concern.


message 40: by Marialyce (last edited Oct 06, 2010 06:03AM) (new)

Marialyce I think it is because we are looking at this novel with the eyes of a 21st century women. We all know that slavery is and was abhorrent, but these were the times and slavery had gone on before the Revolutionary War was fought. It was their way of life and many of them knew no different. Their colossal plantations needed workers and the slaves provided for that need. After the Civil War, many of the slaves went right back to what they were doing before. They knew no better since they were uneducated and possessed little skills.

There were many harsh realities and cruel inhumane treatment of the slaves. I think perhaps Mitchell was trying to preserve the gentility that she and many thought the South was and in that vein needed to show how some slaves were treated well.


Viola | 979 comments I don't think anyone can really say whether or not Margaret Mitchell was "racist". What does that word really mean? I bet that word means something different to a person born in 1900 versus a person born in 2000.

I think that Michell's portrayal of the south is probably a pretty accurate one from a white person's perspective, and that in and of itself is a valuable and interesting to read about.

@Rebecca -- I laugh at how Ashley's studies are "foolish", but that's because I (and I assume you too) value education. The more I think about this description of the South, the more it makes sense to me. Southerners are not known for valuing education. The Northerners (Yankees, if you will) are.


Marialyce Viola, I think your last statement is quite incorrect. The Southerners do value education and many of our elite universities and academies are located in the South. My children (although we are Yankees) went to Southern universities and received an excellent education. They have many brilliant Southern friends who are very well versed in all things academic.


message 43: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2510 comments Mod
I don't think she was promoting racisim. I don't even think she would consider herself racist. You cant really argue though that she never came close to giving a realistic view of slavery. Her portrayal of slavery is far far from the reality. Even if she was trying to show a softer side of the south there is no soft side of slavery. As for many going back to what they knew before the war I don't believe it was because they didn't know better or lacked skills. If anything it was because despite their new "freedom" they were denied so many rights and abilities to be free especially in the south that many had no other option.

I really hope I'm reading it wrong that the south doesn't value education as much as the north?


Viola | 979 comments @Marialyce -- You got me there. I think that's just my own biases coming out. I don't personally know any Southerners. Thank you for enlightening me.


message 45: by Em (new)

Em (EmmaP) Marialyce wrote: "Thank you everyone for those great insights into slave and plantation life.

Do you find Rhett hypocritical when after hearing her confess her love to Ashley he teases her unladylike manner which ..."


My first impressions of Rhet is that he is insightful and not too preoccupied with public opinion of himself. This is demonstrated in his observations about the Southerners chances in war and his summation of Scarlets behaviour and character.

He seems to find humour in the interactions and behaviour of others, I picture him with a smirk on his face as he puts the cat amongst the pigeons and then retreats to the library or leaves Scarlet stunned at being witnessed in her declaration to Ashley.


Shay | 284 comments The thing about this section of Georgia, where the O'Hara's are from, is that it is clearly the "frontier". Practical things, when you are trying to clear land and settle, are more valued in the frontier.
Ashley's people are from Virginia (or is my brain mushy). At the time of this novel, William and Mary College would have already been standing for almost 200 years.


message 47: by Jo (new)

Jo (BloominChick) | 2991 comments I have to agree here, it's not that the North valued education more than the South, I think it depended on where you were from in the South (as well as the North) as to what was deemed more practical and necessary at that time. Speaking of present times, I do agree that Southerners, like the rest of us, value education. As is the case throughout our Country, not everyone is able to further their education in rural (and inner city) areas because of financial reasons (or health, etc) and many times those people are stereotyped unjustly as a result.

I also agree that Mitchell's portrayal of slavery is on the romanticized side and agree that it could be indeed because it is from a white person's point of view. Not that a white person, especially a woman, couldn't relate in some ways but that differs greatly from someone who was actually a slave and if that person was writing the story.


Britt☮ (genki_bee) I agree that it's not as simple as the north values education and the south doesn't. I recently read Jennifer Donnelly's "A Northern Light," which takes place in the early 1900s in the North Woods of upstate New York (which is about as north as you can get before you hit Canada). The main character Mattie wants to go to college in New York City and become a writer, while her father thinks that her getting an education is silly and unnecessary since his plan for her is to stay right where she is and take care of their family and the farm.

I teach English in a very rural area of Japan. I'm the first foreigner some people here have ever seen. To many of my students, the world doesn't exist outside of their country, so they feel that learning English is completely pointless. The same can be said of the characters in Gone with the Wind. Their world revolves around plantation life, parties, gowns, and in Scarlett's case, making sure men never lose interest in her. And the tools for maintaining that lifestyle just aren't found in books.


message 49: by Amy (last edited Oct 06, 2010 10:34AM) (new)

Amy | 59 comments Hi. I'm relatively new to this group but would like to join this great conversation with a thought of my own.

I believe, at the time of GWTW, the North was more industrialized than the South. They had larger more populated cities such as NYC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc...Jobs in these cities required a different skill set than the jobs in the South. While, in the South, they had Atlanta and Raleigh and others (forgive me, I'm a northerner.) However, the North was still more advanced in technology (telegraph) and transportation (railroads), which were large contributing factors why the south lost the war. So rather than this being an argument between education in the north vs. the south, perhaps it is more an argument between the value of education in the city vs. country. To be successful in one vs. the other requires the knowlege of very different things. And, I think throughout this book, this theme continues to play itself out through many characters with Ashley probably being central to this theme.


message 50: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2510 comments Mod
The difference I think is the North had both industry and agriculture. The south primarily had cotton and tabacco. The south tried to embargo their cotton to europe in hopes of drawing them into the battle and fight with the south but Lincoln said any country that recoginized the Confederate states would be at war with them. Europe had a bunch of cotton and that didnt work. Rather they relied more on the North's corn than the South's cotton. (too much history lesson in this post I know)
My point is that the North had agriculture that was vital but they also had machinary, factories, and more cities than the South.
Had Ashley been a city boy his education in the arts wouldn't have been as foolish. However, he lived in the country and the things he studied while lovely and good didn't help with crops, management or business.

What I think is more interesting is the subtle juxtaposition of Ashley and Rhett. Ashley got his arts education Rhett got kicked out of Westpoint. Ashley was considered a gentleman Rhett a scoundrel. Ahsley is led by social graces Rhett says it how he sees it. Ashley doesn't seem to know what he wants or who he is. Rhett knows what he wants and has no disputes about who he is.


« previous 1 3 4 5
back to top

unread topics | mark unread


Books mentioned in this topic

Their Eyes Were Watching God (other topics)
Rough Crossings: Britain, the Slaves and the American Revolution (other topics)
The Help (other topics)
Rhett Butler's People (other topics)
Scarlett (other topics)
More...

Authors mentioned in this topic

Simon Schama (other topics)