My Favorite, Favourite Book - Gone With the Wind: A Tale of Survival
I won't lie. Gone With The Wind by Margret Mitchel is my favorite book. It is my comfort book when I need something to hope for, it gives me strength when I am feeling weak, and it gives me inspiration in my writing.
But I must note this very important thing, before we carry on:
Gone With The Wind is NOT a love story.
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Not A Love Story?
Alright, well of course there is a hug element of a love triangle between these pages. But just hear me out!
Gone With The Wind is about he South dealing with the Civil War taking place in the 1860s. Scarlett O'Hara, our heroine, is just 16 at this time, and madly in love with the tall, blond and equally rich Ashley Wilkes. She however has always been the belle of the ball, and has most of the county's men wrapped around her little finger. She finds out one day at a party at the Wilkes' that he intended to marry his cousin, Melanie Hamilton. She is heart broken, and being as spoiled as she is, she is not accustomed to hearing "no". To seek revenge, she marries Melanie's brother, Charles.
On the day of the party, the War is announced, and within two months, Scarlett had married and become a widow, and found she was pregnant. In her depression at her situation, she moved to Atlanta, living with Melanie and her Aunt Pitty Pat. During this time she befriends Rhett Butler, a scoundrel among men, known for nothing good. As their friendship blossoms, Rhett strips Scarlett of her socially accepted notions, and teaches her to think for herself.
As the war progresses, things become increasingly difficult for every one in the South. Cloth becomes scarce, and they line their dresses with newspaper to keep the wind out. Shoes are soled with carpet bits, and meat becomes a rare treat. The bombs get closer and closer, and every day they wait at the news paper stand to hear word as to who has survived the last fight, and which of their friends, or if Ashley even, have fallen victim to battle.
During this time, Melanie is pregnant, and Scarlett, who loathes her very being, had promised Ashley to keep her safe and look after her and her baby to be. When the shells were falling nearer, it was Melanie's time. Scarlett was forced to get them all out of Atlanta, and she decided on going back to the country, to Tara, her home which she knew had to still be there.
After many perils along the way, they find Tara, only to discover the plantation had been ruined, the vegetable patches raided, and all the slaves had fled, save a few that were close and loyal to the family. In the coming year, with every one that could, Scarlett raised the garden beds back to fruition, grew enough cotton to sell to pay taxes and more supplies for the following year, and things were getting better. Except this year the taxes are higher, and there's a corrupt system in place which doesn't work in favor of the once wealthy plantation owners. The war had ended, and Ashley had come home, but he proved to b useless on the plantation, and seemed to just be another mouth to feed.
To continue to ensure that there is a roof over her family's head and food in their mouths, she returns to Atlanta to offer herself to the continually wealthy Rhett Butler. When he laughs at her proposal she turns to a family friend who was betrothed to her sister, who also was making a little bit of money, enough to pay the taxes for Tara.
During this time, Scarlett schemes to buy a lumber mill, and does so. She runs it herself, in spite of all every one says about her being unwomanly and not proper. She continued any way, even throughout the pregnancy of her second child. She sent the money she earned back to Tara to pay for taxes and for money for seed and livestock.
This was about the time the Klu Kux Klan was rearing its head. Scarlett had had her baby, but was continuing to go out into the woods, out to the lumber mill, against many protests which warned of danger lurking in the trees. True enough, Scarlett was attacked by two men, one a former slave, though she escaped when one of her former slaves came to her aid.
That night, her husband was shot, and it came out that he was a member of the KKK, as well as Ashley, and many of the other men folk her circle had known.
It wasn't soon after that Rhett Butler came to Scarlett and asked him to marry him, "Just for fun".
"Now that you've got your lumber mill and Frank's money, you won't come to me as you did to the jail, so I see I shall have to marry you."
Then of course, comes the famous ending, which we all know.
Square Her Shoulders As She Went
I of course am not ignoring that there is a love story between these pages. However, it is an extreme tale of survival during the burning south of the Civil War. Scarlett O'hara does everything she can to ensure the safety and health of her family, and of those who she does not wish to consider family, including murder, tearing apart her reputation, selling herself, and working hard in the cotton fields.
This is the tale of the destruction of a civilization, and the birth of a new country. It is the struggle in which every society will feel under the weight of a heavy war poured down upon them. Most of all, it is the tale of survival through a woman's determination.
"Ashley watched her go and saw her square her small thin shoulders as she went. And that gesture went to his heart, more than any words she had spoken."