Oh, boy! We’re 75% of the way through Gone with the Wind! I almost didn’t think we’d get to this point — I know for myself there were many times I wanted to give up, but somehow the book drew me back in. But good news: we have less than 200 pages left! How is everyone else faring?
Remember, if you still want to join, you totally can … if you can read an 800-page book in a week’s time?
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:
This is the longest discussion post I’ve written so far, because I have quite a lot of Thoughts™ and concerns. We read 216 pages this week and A LOT happened in those pages — so lets get to it!
Content warnings: please be aware this post contains discussion about violence against black people, slavery, and lynching.
Also prepare yourself for a lot of swearing and gifs.
- So the war is officially over! Slaves are now free and an organisation called the Freedman’s Bureau is helping former slaves get jobs and houses — teaching them how to and helping them survive on their own.
- Basically, the South is being treated as a conquered province and many of the rich, white people who thrived in the South years earlier are now suffering. Lmao. Good.
- Alright, so Scarlett is back on her Ashley bullshit. Ashley has now been ploughing the fields, trying to help Tara as they have no slaves and servants anymore, and Scarlett can’t stand that.
- “She could endure the sight of her own child in aprons made of sacking and the girls in dingy old gingham … but not Ashley. He was too fine for all this.” Jesus wept. Scarlett — you’re making me hate you again.
- Alright, so the government are demanding more taxes from Scarlett and if she doesn’t pay up $300 soon, she’ll lose the house. Hmmm, now who do we know that’s rich? Could it be … Rhett? 👀
- Everyone is acting so philosophical about the end of the war and the loss of the life they knew, “Oh it’s a different world now but don’t worry we’re the South, we’ll survive even though our lifestyle is gone with the wind.” And Scarlett’s like, “Shut up and work or we’ll starve.”
- Ashley is explaining how he can’t help her raise money because he’s a coward and doesn’t understand the world they live in now. This is giving me the feeling that the book is probably leading to a world where women are rising and gaining power.
- “You, Scarlett, you are taking life by the horns and twisting it to your will.” That’s true, that’s one of the the things I admire about Scarlett. She’s not waiting around for the world to go back to what they knew — she’s actively saving herself and her family.
- Two pages of me liking Scarlett and now she’s propositioning Ashley to run away with her. I can’t.
- “You know you don’t love Melanie.” BITCH WHAT?? Yes he does! STAY AWAY FROM MY SHIP, SCARLETT O’HARA.
- Hold the fucking door. Ashley is now saying he’s only with Melanie because of his honour? That his honour won’t let him abandon his wife and baby. WHERE THE FUCK DID THIS COME FROM??
- Ok, here’s how I know that Scarlett is just a fucking self-insert character by Margaret Mitchell — the fact that every man is so in love with Scarlett and they can’t help themselves around her, even married men who have nothing in common with her and who she’s treated horribly. It’s very clear to me that Margaret Mitchell doesn’t understand her own characters. Ashely cannot love her — he loves Melanie because they actually understand each other. Every time Ashely talks about something he’s interested in, Scarlett tells him off and tells him he’s boring her. How could you possibly like someone like that?
- OMG THEY ALMOST HAD SEX! WHAT IS HAPPENING!?
- HE TOLD HER HE LOVES HER?!?!?! NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
- Ashley: “I love you, your courage and your stubbornness and your fire and your utter ruthlessness. How much do I love you? So much that a moment ago I would have outraged the hospitality of the house which has sheltered me and my family, forgotten the best wife any man ever had — enough to take you here in the mud like a–” Ok, that was kind of hot. But I’m still going to cut Ashley for not being committed to Melanie, who remained so committed to him for years.
- Ok, nothing else happened except for a kiss. It seems Scarlett has finally understood that Ashley really won’t be with her, even though he “loves” her.
- Their old overseer, Jonas Wilkerson, has arrived with his new wife, Emmie Slatterly, and has said he wants to buy Tara from her. Jonas is a low-life, apparently, and Emmie is one of the girls who had typhoid that Ellen, Scarlett’s mother, went to nurse but ended up dying of typhoid herself. To say Scarlett was pissed to see her is an understatement.
- Omg, she calls Emmie a slut, this is amazing.
- Now that she knows who wants Tara, Scarlett realises the only thing she can do is go to Rhett and seduce him into marrying her so he can pay off the taxes. And even though he’s not a marrying man, she’ll try to become his mistress.
- I’m low-key impressed? Scarlett is going to prostitute herself to save Tara. Good for her.
- Oh gosh. She and Mammy, one of her former slaves, go to Atlanta to find Rhett and what does Scarlett find? RHETT IS IN JAIL FOR KILLING A FREE BLACK MAN AND STEALING THE CONFEDERATE TREASURY.
- God damn it. Is every character in this book going to disappoint me?
- Oh, there’s a mention of the rise of the Ku Klux Klan. That’s interesting.
- Scarlett goes to the jail where Rhett is being kept and manages to see him.
- Ok, this whole scene is awesome. Scarlett is trying to manipulate him and he’s falling for it!! She wants to marry him and then steal his money! I’m so impressed.
- Oh, now I’m kind of sad because it’s obvious Rhett genuinely loves her but she can’t see it.
- Omg, I’m crying! He’s kissing her hand and then realises she has calloused hands! He figured out she’s playing him.
- HE’S SO UPSET BECAUSE HE REALLY LOVED HER AND SHE ONLY WANTS HIM FOR HIS MONEY.
- Now she’s telling him that she wants $300 from him in exchange for being his mistress and he said “What makes you think you’re worth that much?”
- Savage Rhett is savage.
- HE’S NOT GIVING HER THE MONEY BECAUSE THEN THE YANKEES WILL FIGURE OUT HE STOLE THE CONFEDERATE TREASURY.
- Ok, I can’t handle how much she’s blaming Rhett right now. He literally owes her nothing? He’s not horrible because he won’t give you money, she’s been horrible to him from the very first day they met!
- Oh, okay — Scarlett’s just gonna be super racist about the free black people now. That’s really not surprising but super disgusting. I can’t deal with the comments and have had to put my book down multiple times because that fact that people thought this — and still do — is disturbing.
- BIG GASP: Scarlett just stole her sister’s fiancé for money. Holy shit.
- Frank Kennedy was supposed to marry Suellen but Scarlett convinced him that she married someone else so he married Scarlett instead.
- What a cow. She just gets worse and worse.
- Ok, I can’t help but laugh at Frank: he thinks women are dumb and shouldn’t have anything to do with business, and here Scarlett is questioning him and learning about everything under his nose.
- A few pages later, he finally figures out Scarlett has a brain. Amazing.
- Oh this is awesome! She gets her hands on his business books and starts planning on buying the sawmill he wanted right from under him … with Rhett’s money.
- YES, RHETT IS BACK! He wasn’t hanged! Although he was guilty … and that’s angering me because I thought Rhett would be the one character in this book who wasn’t racist — as much as any white person living in the American South right after the Civil War couldn’t be racist.
- Anyway, Scarlett gets the money off of Rhett and she buys the sawmill and starts running it, and is doing a really good job, much to Frank’s embarrassment. Because a woman shouldn’t work in any sort of business. Spare me.
- Ummmmm … this book just got 10x more racist?? Like you remember how surprised I was in my first check-in that this book wasn’t more racist. I mean, we know that this is historical revisionism by Mitchell, trying to make the slaves and their white owners look like one big happy family, but even so Scarlett was too scared to say the n-word or to abuse one of her slaves. Yeah, that’s gone now.
- A man named Tony Fontaine has sought out Scarlett and Frank for help because he killed a black man for “harassing” his sister-in-law, and then he killed Jonas Wilkerson who apparently made black people believe they were entitled to rights.
- Christ on a bicycle.
- Tony just said that he’s upset that black people don’t show their former owners proper respect for treating them so nicely when they were slaves. I’M OFFICIALLY LOSING IT.
- Scarlett spends a good few pages lamenting over the plight of white people and how the Yankees put black people’s needs above white people’s. Oh and that’s right: Scarlett reckons that most black people don’t want to be free because they don’t know how to take care of themselves. Yeah, I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.
- SCARLETT’S PREGNANT? But she hates babies?
- Now we get a massive paragraph explaining how the Ku Klux Klan and white men are justified when they attack or murder a black person because they’re supposed to protect white women. I can’t deal with this book anymore. If Margaret Mitchell were still alive today, I’d drop-kick her.
- Ooh, Belle Wattling, the prostitute, has her own brothel now. Good for her.
- Ok, this is where I’m getting interested again and my literary criticism brain is popping off again. Scarlett mentions the book Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. If you don’t know what that book is, it’s an American Classic and is very anti-slavery (but totally from the perspective of white people and definitely has that white-saviour trope). Many critics believe this book played a large part in starting the American Civil War in the first place, as Stowe’s novel explores how Christian theology is incompatible with slavery. I’m wondering now if Gone with the Wind is Margaret Mitchell’s response to Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Uncle Tom’s Cabin highlighted the real treatment of slaves in the South: from murder, to abuse, to how people were sold. It was a great shock to many people in the North. But in comes Margaret Mitchell years later claiming, “No, we weren’t like that! We loved our slaves, they’re our family.” I wonder how many people were taken in by this false narrative, and how many people today still believe it.
- This next scene kind of proves my belief. In this scene, Scarlett is talking to three Yankee women — Northern women — who are incredibly racist. I’m not claiming that no people from the North were racist, but this whole scene is framed to make it seem like the North don’t really care about emancipation and how black people are better suited under the South as slaves.
- In this scene, the three women call Uncle Peter, who’s accompanying Scarlett, the n-word and later Uncle Peter cries because he’s never been called the n-word by a white person before — which I fucking do not believe. And then Scarlett gets affronted on his behalf, claiming that Northern people are racist while two seconds later she refers to Uncle Peter, in her head, as the n-word. I can’t deal!!!
- AND MINUTES LATER, HE TELLS HER OFF BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T STAND UP FOR HIM AND SHE WANTS TO HIT HIM! She’s actually offended Peter said that to her.
- DOES MITCHELL NOT SEE THE HYPOCRISY??
- Moving on before I pop a blood vessel.
- Rhett comes back to Atalanta and starts accompanying her on her journeys to the sawmill as she’s pregnant, to protect her. She’s embarrassed by her pregnancy but he tells her not to be, as its natural. He basically tells her he loves her — although he doesn’t say the words — but she doesn’t get it! Frustrating.
- Ok, we get more nuance to Scarlett’s character now: she may be becoming an alcoholic.
- Oh. Her dad is dead.
- There goes that nuance I mentioned two seconds ago because her father is dead and the only thing Scarlett can think of is how Ashley is going to see her pregnant “with another man’s child” and she’s embarrassed. Someone help me.
- Back in Tara, Will tells Scarlett that he’s going to marry Suellen and that Carreen is going to a nunnery.
- I don’t think I’ve mentioned this in any discussion post yet, but I 100% believe that Margaret Mitchell — and by extension, Scarlett O’Hara because they’re basically the same person — has a lot of internalised misogyny, and this next scene explaining how Gerald died just proves that I’m right.
- It’s all Suellen’s fault, apparently. Suellen had heard from a neighbour that they conned the new Yankee government out of money by claiming that they were Union sympathisers and that the Union had destroyed their property, so they received a payout from the government. Suellen planned to do that, because she was jealous of Scarlett making money and wearing pretty dresses and going to parties, even though Scarlett wasn’t doing that.
- She had harassed Gerald for weeks over this, bringing up their dead mother and making him cry, and finally she manages to get him down to the courthouse to sign a document claiming that they were Union sympathisers, but Gerald manages to come to his senses and refuses. Suellen takes him away and gets him drunk, but he gets angry, disappears for a while, then shows up on his horse — he falls off his horse and breaks his neck and dies. And now everyone in the County is blaming Suellen for his death because she tried to betray her father and their glorious South, and one guy even said he wanted to whip her.
- (Just realised I’ve been pronouncing Suellen wrong this entire time. I think its pronounced “Sue-ellen” and I’ve been saying “Sue-leen”. Still don’t know how to say Carreen — Karen?)
- All of this just proves to me that Scarlett is upheld as the model woman — flawed, though she is — while everyone else is cowardly (Melanie), air-headed and selfish (Suellen), weak and pathetic (Carreen). Scarlett, on the other hand, is strong, a protector, is flawlessly beautiful, and has every man constantly after her, even her sister’s beaus.
- And so the whole town turns against Suellen, while Grandma Fontaine is considering Scarlett as the head of the household and a business woman with a strong mind.
- You know how you can tell with some authors that their characters are meant to represent themselves? Like Bella from Twilight and Aelin from Throne of Glass series? Yeah, that’s what Scarlett is for Margaret Mitchell. WE GET IT, MITCHELL, YOU THINK YOU’RE SCARLETT AND YOU’RE JUST AS AMAZING. Please stop!!
- So after the funeral, Ashley tells Scarlett he plans to go to New York and get a job as a banker and Scarlett freaks out. She starts crying and begging him and acting incredibly selfish.
- Melanie comes in and berates Ashely, telling him all that Scarlett has done to keep them alive while he was in prison, and the least they could do is help Scarlett now — as Scarlett plans to give him half the interest of her sawmill and a job there.
- Big sigh. She’s so delusional. She spent so long discussing how women are better than men at business — and by women she means herself — and now she’s going to give half of her hard-earned work away? For Ashley? For that bitch? (He’s not a bitch, I actually love him.)
- He has no choice but to accept but he’s really upset about it, because it makes him feel less like a man.
- Once everyone is back in Atalanta, with Melanie and Ashley having their own house, Melanie accidentally sets herself up as the leader of female society, with all of these women lining up to be friends with her. Its pretty cool — I’m surprised Scarlett isn’t jealous yet.
- Surprise, surprise. Ashley is bad a business. But Scarlett is making excuses for him because she loves him. Ok.
- Scarlett finally has her baby and it’s a little girl, Ella Lorena, who is apparently very ugly. Jesus Christ, Scarlett, she’s a newborn — no newborns are born beautiful. Chill.
- On the same page that Scarlett relates her bringing a child into the world we also get a paragraph long depiction of how the Ku Klux Klan “quietly hanged” a black man who had been accused of raping a white woman, to spare the white woman from having to testify in court and relive her rape — which would have lead her father and brother to killing her for the shame.
- “Quietly hanged” — what a gentle term for lynching. We also can’t ignore how Scarlett seems to know the woman wasn’t actually raped and was just scared, and now, because of the black man’s murder, a lot of white men are in “danger” from the government, and could potentially lose their lives. Ah yes, lets ignore the actual black man who lost his life for favour of the men who killed him. Sure.
- Anyway, Scarlett hires a bodyguard to escort her to her sawmills — an ex-convict named Archie. He really hates women, black people and Yankees — in that order.
- Archie seems to have enough brains to understand the horror, abuse and exploit of the free labour that convicts endure and provide but doesn’t seem to understand that black people went through that too.
- The way that Archie goes on and on makes him sound like a modern-day Trump supporter and not, you know, a character from the American Civil War — which says a lot, doesn’t it.
- Scarlett ends up hiring 10 convicts and Archie quits, so she has no bodyguard now.
- FRIENDS SHE SAID IT! SCARLETT O’HARA A.K.A. MARGARET MITCHELL ACTUALLY SAID, “BLACK PEOPLE [the word used here was not ‘black people’, I put that in. I’m sure you can guess what word was actually used] WERE FAR BETTER OFF UNDER SLAVERY THAN THEY WERE NOW UNDER FREEDOM.”
- We all know that this sentiment is what the book was suggesting anyway, but to actually say the fucking words? I am disgusted.
- I don’t even care about this book anymore. Even Rhett’s return doesn’t make me happy anymore, even though my whole experience reading this book is just waiting for Rhett to show up.
- Scarlett hires this guy called Johnnie to help run her mill, who’s she’s been wanting to hire for ages.
- Rhett comes to visit Scarlett. They have the same fucking conversation they’ve have many, many times before: Rhett saying he’ll never get married (or he’ll only marry the woman if he can’t get any other way), then they’re talking about Ashley, and the collapse of the old world, and how Ashley is a coward. I’m so sick of this conversation! THIS IS ALL THEY TALK ABOUT.
- For a change of pace, Rhett actually talks about his family and his life before he was the notorious Captain Butler. His dad kicked him out because he was a scoundrel, and he wasn’t allowed to see his mother or sister. Even after the war, his father wouldn’t take any money from Rhett, and so they all lived in poverty. I don’t know why we’re getting his background story 600 pages into an 800 page novel, but we are.
- Anyway … Scarlett comes across one of her former slaves, Big Sam, and you know that means its time for Margaret Mitchell to tell us how much better black people are under slavery!
- OH FUCK ME I WAS RIGHT! I WAS JUST JOKING 🙃
- Sam tells Scarlett that he’s “had enough to freedom” and wants to go back to Tara. And apparently he killed a white man and is on the run. I don’t know. I don’t rightly care right now.
- Scarlett visits Johnnie at the sawmill and sees that he’s starving the convicts that work for him. Instead of firing him, she’s going to take money out of his pay and then just … leaves. So she knows people are being abused under her business and did nothing about it. That sounds about right.
- We’re finally at the end of the chapter, thank Christ. Scarlett goes back to get Sam and she’s assaulted by a white man and a black man and Sam saves her.
- 200 pages left everyone! Lets try and survive!
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON GONE WITH THE WIND? ARE YOU AS ANNOYED AS I AM? WERE YOU, LIKE ME, PROMISED A TIMELESS ROMANCE AND ARE LIKE, “BITCH, WHERE??” LET ME KNOW!
THE NEXT DISCUSSION POST WILL BE UP MARCH 31! HAPPY READING!