This is the last check-in for our read-along of Gone With the Wind. What a ride it has been! Thanks to Corinne for sending us off, thanks to Brona for hosting some of the check-ins, and thanks to everyone who has participated.
I wasn’t able to post on the last ten chapters, so I quickly want to say that the train wreck that was Scarlett’s and Rhett’s marriage was hard to read about. These two are so right and at the same time so wrong for each other. Their constant need to dominate the other doomed their marriage right from the beginning. The death of their daughter Bonnie was tragic. How do you recover from the death of your child, especially when you are partly to blame for it? It was the final nail in the coffin of their union.
Yet the bad news continue in the last three chapters. After a miscarriage, Melanie is dying, which is a heavy blow for Scarlett. FINALLY, she realizes how much strength she has always drawn from Melanie, her staunchest supporter and defender. Scarlett also realizes how foolish she’s been to banish Rhett from her bedroom and how even more foolish she’s been to consider herself in love with Ashley. Suddenly, she sees how weak he is, and on her way home to Rhett, she realizes she’s in love with him. (So many light bulbs go on in the final pages….)
Ironically, Rhett rejects Scarlett’s love when she declares herself. He is tired and wants to search for a calm, dignified life like the one he and the South lost in the war. Wounded, Scarlett resolves to return to Tara to regroup and come up with a strategy for winning Rhett back.
“My dear, I don’t give a damn.”
What an ending! I love how many ways there are to read this one line. Weary, cold, nonchalant, careless—you can say this line with so many different inflections, and each casts the ending in a slightly different light.
I really like the open ending of the novel, and that, of course, means speculation about whether the two will reunite. I think that’s the perfect ending to a book with such an infuriating, interesting, thought-provoking heroine. I, for one, think they will not reunite. Overall, the book has felt realistic, so why spoil it with an unrealistic happy ending? Can you expect two people to reform, overcome the death of their child, and come together again and be happy? I can’t, especially since I don’t see either Scarlett or Rhett to become different, better people. I think after a while they would be bored without their little games and manipulations. (When Rhett became “good” for Bonnie’s sake, he was still manipulating others. And Scarlett has never put anyone else above her own interest.) But, who knows, after finally telling each other how they really feel, maybe they have a chance. Thoughts?
I was reading an article about how Scarlett personifies the new South and how her willingness and ability to adjust to a new way of life represent the post-War South. Where does that leave us in regard to Melanie? Do we read Melanie’s death as the final blow to the Old South? I can’t fully bring myself to believe that that is what Mitchell was trying to say, yet in Melanie and Ashley, we have two representatives of the Old South without a future. Even Rhett, after his successful machinations throughout the book, has now surrendered and is looking for the kind of life that no longer exists in the South. As different as Rhett and Ashley are, they are now both yearning for the same thing. More irony: despite their difference in character, these two men have more and more in common the further we read. How am I to interpret this?
There is not a single character who is happy at the end. Is this Mitchell’s way of mourning a way of life that has been lost forever? Even though I finished the book several weeks ago, I am still chewing on this question.
Amidst the heated discussions of the past two months here in the U.S. over the removal of the Confederate flag from government grounds, I came across an article that suggested Gone With the Wind should be cast aside because it heavily relies on the image of the Confederacy. The article spoke mainly about the movie, not the book, but I think it would be a shame if we relegated either one to the backburner. There is no question that the racism in this book will make most readers uncomfortable, but how else will we remember and learn? A people that does not remember its history is bound to repeat its mistakes.
And that brings me to the end. I can’t wait to read your final thoughts on the book.