Author: Margaret Mitchell
Category: Fiction, Historical
Synopsis: "If the novel has a theme it is that of survival. What makes some people able to come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong and brave, go under? It happens in every upheaval. Some people survive; others don't. What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those who go under...? I only know that the survivors used to call that quality 'gumption.' So I wrote about the people who had gumption and the people who didn't."
-- Margaret Mitchell, 1936
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I read Gone with the Wind for the first time in the sixth grade. I don't remember why I had to conquer such an imposing novel [it's well over a thousand pages of awesomeness], but I did. I reread it again in high school, so this past week marked it thrice read. Third times a charm, right? I think I actually comprehended it on this round.
I think to some, Gone with the Wind is a romance novel, or at least a novel with romance in it. In all actuality, there is none. This is a story of a girl turned woman, forced by the Civil War to endure hardships and struggles she had never imagined. The genteel South she was raised in falls to ruin around her, allowing instead for an influx of Yankee socialites. The woman [Scarlett, if you could't guess], overcomes all obstacles, regains her money, and tries to make her way back up the social ladder. This is a very gross overview of the novel, but Scarlett's struggles and achievements were never what interested me. *Side note: if you read/have read the novel, how do you think Scarlett fits in with Joyness Sparkles' definition of a feminist wife?*
My main interest in the novel was stark differences between how Mitchell portrays slavery and the history lessons in school. I might be getting myself into a lot of hot water, so let me start this with a disclaimer: I absolutely do not support slavery, the idea of enslaving another person for one's bidding, be it a sex slave, a farming slave, a house slave, etc. None of it sits well with me. But, that being said; growing up, we were taught that there were absolutely no slaves ever that wanted to be one. All of them caused upheavals, every single one of them wanted to run away. But in Mitchell's portrayal, they loved their family. Slaves were an extension of the white plantation owner, a fatherly figure to their brain washed minds. Even when the Union freed all slaves, the majority [with the exception of field hands] stayed with their white families to not only take care of them, but to be taken care of. There was a symbiotic relationship; white man needed slaves to help culture his farm, slaves needed white man for security.
Of course, for every ten decent slave owners, there was the bad apple. The ones that forced their slaves through pain and misery, who desired only the output of their labor for riches and glory. I would never say all of the stories aren't true. I understand that life was hell for the majority of slaves, and I am extremely glad that such a dark point in our history was fought against, and has passed. But I also understand that there are two sides to every story; for each horror, there was a blessing. And I kind of resent the public school system for their very one-sided and biased historical overview of the Civil War era. Ideas? Comments? Condemnations?