We are half-way through the read-along of Gone With the Wind. Corinne is unable to continue leading us, so please check out Brona’s blog for this week’s check-in. I will do the next check-in in two weeks (June 27), unless Corinne can pick up again. She has been such an enthusiastic leader so far, and I credit her for helping me really get into the story.
I had a slow start, but I am all caught up now. While there are some parts that feel a little long, overall, I am enjoying this sweeping saga. (Can you call it a “family saga” if it focuses on only one generation?)
I like Rhett Butler much better than I had expected, but Scarlett O’Hara . . . . I’ve been going back and forth with how I feel about her. Here is a sample of the internal dialogue I have going on every time I pick up the book:
Me 1: So, at the beginning, I felt sorry for Scarlett. You can really see how she’s similar to her dad, and if she had been a man, she could have done so much more with her life.
Me 2: Yes, but she makes absolutely no effort to think about anything other than dresses and boys. If she had been a man, she probably would have been just like the Tarleton twins, snubbing her nose at an education.
Me 1: True, she has no curiosity about anything that goes on outside of her little world. But it’s too bad that all those characteristics that made her father successful—the stubbornness and the hunger for success—are making her a not-so-nice person. Tenacity was not a desired trait in a woman back then.
Me 2: She doesn’t seem to learn anything either as we read along, does she? Why didn’t she listen to her father when he told her Ashley wasn’t a good match for her? He was so right about that.
Me 1: Well, she was only 16. Which 16-year-old ever listens to her parents?
Me 2: Still, marrying someone out of spite is pretty despicable.
Me 1: But she certainly regretted that spontaneous decision.
Me 2: You’d think she might have learned something from her mistake. But I don’t see any personal growth after the marriage disaster.
Me 1: She’s still so young, though. And since dancing and flirting is what she’s always done, isn’t it understandable that she misses it and takes the first opportunity to go back to it?
Me 2: Yeah, maybe at the beginning of the war, when everyone still thinks it will be an easy and quick victory. But you’d think that at some point, she’d have a little compassion for others and stop thinking about herself all the time.
Me 1: She does take care of Aunt Pitty and Melanie. And in a way, it’s admirable that she doesn’t get carried away by the feverish patriotism that grips everyone else.
Me 2: She only does it because Ashley asked her to. She’s not doing it out of the goodness of her heart. And her lack of blind patriotism is not because she’s realistic about the situation, like Rhett is, but because she’s simply not interested in it.
Me 1: I was surprised that she doesn’t seem to take any pride in the work that she puts into keeping Tara.
Me 2: I really wished to see a little more depth in character at this point. She finally has a good reason to be proud of herself, for escaping from burning Atlanta and getting Melanie and the children safely to Tara, but instead she’s just resenting everyone for putting her into such a situation.
Me 1: She can’t see that the men are respecting her more now than at the beginning, when she was just an entertaining plaything for them. She has no desire to be a leader, which is a shame because she deals with the challenges of the war and its aftermath much better than others at Tara.
Me 2: But every time she does something great, like saving the livestock from the Yankees and keeping them from burning Tara, she starts complaining. Tara is so important to her, but she takes no pleasure in the responsibility that comes with it.
Me 1: But that role is so different from the way she was brought up. She was aware of her mother’s strength in keeping the household running, but she really has no woman in her life who could be a role model for her under the drastically changed circumstances she finds herself in.
As you can see, compassion, pity, annoyance, irritation, all tangled up together. From what little I remember from the movie, I am not sure my feelings will untangle themselves as I continue reading.