So the first week of the Gone with the Wind readalong is over and 200 pages have been read of this beast of a book and I have some thoughts™.
Before we get into that, if anyone still wants to join the Gone with the Wind readalong, you totally can!
Here’s the book reading schedule:
Start: March 1
Stop 1: March 8 at end of chapter 14 (page 209)
Stop 2: March 15th at end of chapter 30 (page 413)
Stop 3: March 22nd at end of chapter 44 (page 629)
End: March 31st (page 825)
And here’s the discussion post schedule:
First blog post: March 9
Second blog post: March 16
Third blog post: March 23
Fourth blog post: March 31
- The book starts off with a long paragraph describing Scarlett O’Hara’s — the main character — looks: she has luscious black hair and sparkling green eyes and a “seventeen-inch waist”, which is apparently the smallest in like three counties. Surprisingly, I’m not already annoyed despite the fact that I hate when books describe in detail what the MC looks like — especially when its with such detail and to prove how much prettier the MC is than every other girl.
- It’s very easy to read, which I didn’t expect. None of the language is super difficult as you usually find in classic books.
- Ok, I’m so dumb I had no idea this book was set during the American Civil War — and on the Confederate side too.
- Scarlett has almost all of the boys in the neighbourhood obsessed with her, but she’s in love with one guy called Ashley, who is supposed to marry his own cousin. Okay. Oh and Ashley’s really smart and he likes more “feminine” things, such as reading. Okay.
- Gerald, Scarlett’s dad: “Tell me true, do you understand his folderol about books and poetry and music and oil paintings and such foolishness?”
Scarlett: “Oh, Pa, if I married him, I’d change all that!”
- Now we get an entire chapter about Scarlett’s parents: who they were before they married. Ellen, her mother, was only fifteen when she was married — and it happened so fast because she was in love with another young man who died.
- Gerald, her father, was in his early forties when they married and gross, but what upsets me the most about Gerald is the fact that he wanted to be a plantation owner. As an Irishman, he had never “been a tenant on the lands his people once had owned and hunted”, and yet here he is owning slaves and a cotton plantation. I just find it ironic that an Irishman who struggled so much to be free now owns people.
- “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.” — Have you ever read a more apt description of white men and white women?
- I like that Scarlett is selfish and vain. During this time, the 1860s, so many women were forced to act a certain way — I can’t tell you how many times this book has mentioned that women should swoon and faint — and it’s refreshing that Scarlett hates acting that way. She uses men and other people to get her way.
- Rhett finally shows up almost 100 pages into the book!
- Wow, he’s kind of a bitch.
- But I love how freely he speaks and how everyone is really shocked by it. He’s the only one who seems to understand that the South will lose the Civil War.
- He also has a very bad reputation: apparently, he was disinherited from his own family, and recently he was out late with a young woman, refused to marry her, and then killed her brother in a duel for her honour.
- I like him.
- Just realised that Rhett is 35 and Scarlett is 16. Hmm. Here’s hoping nothing happens between them until she’s 18 at least.
- LMAO Scarlett is so savage! Charles: I love you and I want to marry you. Scarlett: Um.
- Scarlett confronts Ashley at his engagement party and he rejects her and Rhett is there and hears her throwing a tantrum and he’s just having the time of his life.
- So in 100 pages, Scarlett has gone from being admired by every boy out there, but she only wants Ashely so she decides to confront him at the announcement of his engagement, telling him she loves him, but he rejects her, and then she ends up engaged to Charles, married in a week, and pregnant two months later. Oh and Charles dies of disease.
- Wow, so we have a chapter-long ramble about Gerald but this we move through in a two pages. Awesome.
- So interesting that Scarlett doesn’t have any interest in her son — she doesn’t care about him at all and she spends most of her time in a depressed state, angry that she is now a widower and as a widower she can’t participate in social life.
- There’s so much talk of how women must behave, its actually refreshing that Scarlett is different. I’m not liking how much she hates on other women, although I can see her frustration.
- While Ashley and many other men go off to the war, to get her feeling better, Scarlett’s parents send her to Atlanta to live with her sister-in-law and mother-in-law for a little while. Her sister-in-law who happens to be Ashley’s new wife, Melanie. SHIT’S ABOUT TO GO DOWN.
- And yeah, Scarlett spends the whole time secretly hating Melanie, even going so far as to read her private letters from Ashley.
- AND RHETT COMES BACK! He becomes the blockader for Atlanta, meaning that he’s the person who smuggles in food and other stuff during war time.
- So fascinating how every house in Atlanta relies on him to survive, and yet because of his reputation, they won’t let him into their homes. Can you say hypocrite much?
- I have a love/hate relationship with Melanie. On one hand, it’s clear that her only role in the text is to work as an opposite to Scarlett: where Scarlett is bad, Melanie is good, where Scarlett is a flirt, Melanie is virtuous, where Scarlett just wants to party and doesn’t like books or learned people, Melanie is educated and rather spend her time in the house, waiting for her husband to return from the war — she’s supposed to show how a proper woman ought to behave. But on the other hand, she’s very feisty and she’s the only person who stands up for Rhett when he is barred by the whole town. So she seems to be the only person who has a mind of her own. She’s a conundrum.
- So far my favourite quote is Rhett saying, “How closely women clutch the very chains that bind them!” when Scarlett explains the reasons she’s too scared to stop wearing black, because society says she must as a widower (at least for three years).
- I’m so surprised by how sexual this book is? Like, there’s obviously no sex scenes but Scarlett does think about sex a little bit, in the way that its something women have to endure.
- And there’s a pretty intense scene of her and Rhett about to kiss, but he doesn’t. Rhett also makes very “ungentlemanly-like” looks at her, by looking her up and down and making her blush. I know this is pretty minor stuff, but for a book published in 1936, it’s downright porn.
- Just look:
- Ok, now we’re going to get into something that’s been bugging me: the treatment of slaves.
- Now when I realised this book was set during the American Civil War, and considering that slavery was a big part of why that war was fought, it was obvious that slaves would be portrayed in the novel. But I’m finding the way they’re being represented really strange?
- Margaret Mitchell acts like slaves voluntarily want to be slaves and I just can’t deal with it. What makes me think this is the loyalty that slaves show to their “masters” — Mammie and Uncle Peter seem to run the household and even threaten white people? Like Uncle Peter, a slave in Melanie’s household, sees Melanie talking to a prostitute and threatens to tell her mother, which leads Melanie to begging Scarlett for help. Would this really have happened?
- But what made me the most angry was the fact that Mitchell used the word “owned” to refer to Mammie and Peter’s love for their owners. As in “Mammie acts like she owns them” or “Peter owns Melanie and Pittypat (her mother)” — which is just what?!
- HOW CAN A SLAVE “OWN” THE PERSON WHO LITERALLY AND LEGALLY OWNS THEM? They can’t.
- Do you see what I mean by Mitchell making the slaves seem like one big happy family with the people who own them? It just rubs me the wrong way.
What are your thoughts on Gone with the Wind? Are you enjoying it? Finding it boring? Let me know!
The next discussion post will be out March 16!