Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gone With the Wind - Margaret Mitchell (Week 4)

For the first time since starting this book, I think I am finally where I'm supposed to be, based on Matt's schedule. Whew! I'm in the homestretch. I did alot of eyebrow-raising in this last 300 pages. There were two significant diversions from the movie, and some serious character insight to Scarlett - not all of it pleasant! Here are a few of my musings.

There was nary a mention of the character Will Benteen in the movie. However, he plays a significant role in the book. Will was one of many wounded Confederates that washed up at Tara at the end of the war. Once convalesced, he began helping around the farm. Despite his cracker-ish ways and lack of family status, was often sought after by the entire O' Hara family and staff for solace, advice or just a listening ear. Will is a gentle character that was wise beyond his years, and became a key factor in Tara's survival, especially once Scarlett moves back to Atlanta. I was sorry they didn't deem him important enough to write into the script.

The other omission from the movie was Scarlett's second child, Ella Lorena, who was fathered by Frank Kennedy, Scarlett's second husband. I'm curious as to why neither Ella nor Wade was included as part of the movie plot...

I had always thought that despite Scarlett's foibles, she was God-fearing. Perhaps she is, but only in a way that is self-serving. Here is a snippet that gave me pause:

"Religion had always been a bargaining process with Scarlett. She promised God good behavior in exchange for favors. God had broken the bargain time and again, to her way of thinking, and she felt that she owed Him nothing at all now."

Yikes! If I were her, I'd be watching out for bolts of lightning to strike me down. Scarlett also had an interesting view on the need for kindness:

"Her pleasure in these thoughts of the future was undimmed by any realization that she had no real desire to be unselfish or charitable or kind. All she wanted was the reputation for possessing these qualities. But the meshes of her brain were too wide, too coarse, to filter such small differences. It was enough that some day, when she had money, everyone would approve of her."

We are truly allowed to see what makes Scarlett That is it. Scarlett's whole life revolves around money. She becomes irritated when she witnesses neighbors "wasting" money on tombstones, or even on a modest wedding. She is driven solely by the desire for status, nice clothes and Tara. When the carpetbaggers set their sights on Tara, and raise the taxes to an enormous amount so they can buy the property, Scarlett adopts a single-minded focus to save it, even if it means she has to sleep with someone (Rhett), or marry a man she doesn't love (Frank). She defines the term "lady" as someone with money. Without it, becoming a lady is unattainable. She becomes a cold, calculated, masculine business person, almost a tycoon of sorts! I never appreciated the level of success she had achieved from watching the movie. Nor did I appreciate that Scarlett was the pioneer of breaking glass ceilings. No woman at that time worked outside the home (except for prostitutes), or admitted to having a head for numbers. Scarlett could care less what people think. She feels that when she is rich, they will forgive her for her actions and respect her.

This causes me to ask myself this question. Is Scarlett's love for Tara pure, or is it based on the status of land ownership? I've always thought that at this stage of the story, she grew to have an unselfish devotion to the plantation, but now I don't think so.

I now enter into the section of the book we all wait for...when Scarlett gets together with Rhett. I cannot wait to see the fur fly. It is my hope to finish the book this week, Book Fair be darned!


Melody said...

Just wondering... are you reading half of the book already? Or have already moved on further? ;)

Sandy Nawrot said...

Melody - I only have two hundred pages to go...I'm at about page 800 out of 1,000. I love this book, but I'm sooooo ready to move on!!

Matt said...

I'm sold on your point about money as well. Getting the mills established, making money, leasing convicts to work at the mill, it's all about being lucrative. My heart literally skipped a beat when she married the second time out of c-o-n-v-e-n-i-e-n-c-e!!!!! Good for her that she doesn't give two straws about what people think, well, except for Rhett, because I have a feeling that she is a bit conscious of what Rhett thinks.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Matt - I think Scarlett only cares about the how Rhett and her dead mother would feel about her actions...everyone else can kiss her ass! Which is one trait that I actually admire about her!