‘Gone With the Wind’ Review

Michael Parke, Staff Writer

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Gone With the Wind, a novel by Margaret Mitchell, is a historical fiction novel following a young southern belle, Scarlett O’Hara, through her life before, during, and after the Civil War. The novel starts in 1861 with sixteen year-old Scarlett, who is one of three daughters of wealthy plantation owner Gerald and his wife, Ellen, sitting on the steps. She is pretty and holds a conversation with the Tarleton twins, but as it goes along it is revealed that she cares little for them, her attention more set on Ashley Wilkes. He’s to marry Melanie, his cousin. She meets a swarthy man named Rhett Butler at Ashley’s party. Upset as his refusal to take her hand, she marries Charles Hamilton. Then the Civil War happens; Charles dies. Scarlett goes from Tara to Atlanta, Georgia, where she is supposed to be in deep mourning but is raised out of it by Rhett, who is a blockade runner. She has many experiences in Atlanta and ends up back at Tara where she vows never to be hungry again. The story follows her life thereafter.

It’s a book for people who want something long and interesting about the Civil War, written by someone from the South. (As an aside, the author didn’t learn that the South had lost until she the age of ten. This may show the credibility she has in writing about a southerner during the War, as it seems as though she lived in a culture steeped in pride and honor in themselves dating back to the days the Confederacy lost.) There’s always been criticism about how the book glosses over slavery, the KKK, the way whites acted towards blacks, &c., but I think that’s up to the reader to weigh on. Personally, I feel as though the story was less of an attempt to “glorify slavery” (as I’ve read) than to present the story of a young woman losing her way of life and then building something back up. I think Margaret Mitchell came from a more subjective point of view than one based in objective reality.

The length of this book is comparable to Herman Melville’s Moby Dick or Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables . The version I read was one thousand thirty-seven pages long, but page length is a poor reason to shy away from any of them. It seems to be an interesting foil to Uncle Tom’s Cabin , although I can’t say for sure because I’ve not read it. Complementary reads would probably be anything on the Civil War. Letters from Confederate soldiers would be interesting too. Of course the film is always there, and it seems to stay true to source material.

By all accounts it’s a classic Southern novel set in a bygone era. There are a lot of fun characters and beautiful imagery, but most of all I think most readers will get a sense of the old Southern values—like honor, pride and integrity—that these people nurtured. It’s a good book.

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‘Gone With the Wind’ Review