Gone With The Wind Book Review
Books are said to be a reflection of human life in all its aspects. Some books touch upon personal issues and the inner world of a single individual and some books are totally focused on the description of global events and their outcomes. Therefore, it is hard to deny that any book is supposed to render a certain message for people to be aware of some moral idea. In other words, books are not limited to the choice of themes to be discussed but are obliged to reveal a chosen topic because otherwise, a book will be completely senseless. Taking this into consideration, it is to be said that the following book has to be reviewed from the perspective of success to depict a particular theme.
To be more exact, the book consists of two parts. The first part mainly describes the Civil War period, but the very end of it and the beginning of the second part are totally devoted to the description of post-war events. This period is known as the years of starvation and poverty, especially for the southern states. As a consequence, the themes of hunger and poverty are the key perspective from which Gone With the Wind will be reviewed. In fact, these two themes are actually reflecting the main message of the book. Thus, peculiar features of rendering this message are supposed to be revealed, as well. In addition, it is also worth saying that this paper lingers upon different opinions of critics in order to make the review more objective.
Speaking about the theme of hunger and poverty in the post-war period, it is to be admitted that the storyline revolved around a young woman named Scarlet O’Hara, who used to belong to the upper class of the southern population. In fact, the theme of hunger starts to be explicit after the end of the war when Scarlet comes back to her home estate Tara, where she grew up. Actually, Scarlet sees that her home is in a total devastation after the war: the author gives a detailed description of the place, which has become dull and poor. All residents of Tara had nothing to eat; Scarlet’s mother died from typhus, and her father lost his mind. As Scarlet had nothing to eat, she tried to eat roots of some vegetables, but they were so disgusting that she spat them out. After that, she said the following words, which actually explain her feelings about hunger and her intention to defeat starvation:
As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I’ll never be hungry again (Mitchell chapter 25)”
Hence, the author further describes Scarlet as the purposefully acting woman, who wants to survive without any respect to all class prejudices and moral values. She takes on herself male responsibilities and does not mind hard physical labor. Even though Scarlet is depicted to be a pragmatic visionary, the author emphasizes on her desire to live and work hard for her future:
In the dull twilight of the winter afternoon, she came to the end of a long road which had begun the night Atlanta fell. She had set her feet upon that road a spoiled, selfish and untried girl, full of youth, warm of emotion, easily bewildered by life. Now, at the end of the road, there was nothing left of that girl. Hunger and hard labor, fear and constant strain, the terrors of war and the terrors of Reconstruction had taken away all warmth and youth and softness. About the core of her being, a shell of hardness had formed and, little by little, layer by layer, the shell had thickened during the endless months (Mitchell chapter 32 ).
Taking this into consideration, it should be admitted that hunger was so strong that Scarlett had to violate all public and moral principles in order to stay alive.
As for the theme of the poverty, it is to be mentioned that the O’Hara family used to be quite rich. They owned big cotton plantations, kitchen gardens, and slaves who worked there. However, as the Civil War came, the entire O’Hara family had to work hard, as well. Junkies have put an enormous tax on the family. In case they do not pay this tax, Junkies will have to expropriate their Tara estate. In fact, this estate was the most precious possession of Scarlet. Therefore, the desire to escape the poverty and save her home made her behave in a proactive way. By rejecting to remain a typical lady, Scarlet started acting as a person, who does not care much about her status, because it does not matter at all in times of the total decline and starvation. Consequently, the author outlines Scarlet’s intention through the following statement: “A startling thought this, that a woman could handle business matters as well or better than a man, a revolutionary thought to Scarlett who had been reared in the tradition that men were omniscient and women none too bright (Mitchell chapter 36).” All in all, it is to be said that the themes of hunger and poverty are completely depicting the message that only a strong-willed people can violate all customs and prejudices in order to save their families and themselves.
Regarding opinions of the other critics, it is to be admitted that the most controversial reviews were emphasizing on a strong resemblance of Gone With the Wind to Ku Klux Klan books (Brown & Wiley 154). To be more exact, these reviews blamed Mitchel for plagiarism and rendering racist ideas through the character of Scarlet O’Hara. However, reviews should be regarded as an attempt to harm the reputation of the author rather than estimate the cultural value of the book. In general, none of these reviews touched upon the themes of hunger and poverty but were primarily focused on drawing a link between the book and Ku Klux Klan ideology works.
Besides that, it should be noted that many critiques and even average readers are pointing at the fact that the main storyline actually has not been finished. To be more exact, the relationship between Scarlet and Rhett Butler led to nothing and seemed to be senseless at all. In other words, this line of the plot does not render any particular meaning, because the relationship between Scarlet and Rhett Butler has not come to a definite conclusion. Taking this into consideration, it is to be said that this fact provoked further attempts to continue the love story of Scarlett and Rhett. All in all, it is the two main opposing arguments of critics while the attention to the key themes of the book actually produces the same opinion.
On the contrary, the unfinished storyline of the relationship between Scarlet and Rhett Butler actually conveys the main message of the book. To be more specific, as Rhett Butler leaves Scarlett in the end of the second part, she decided to return to Tara, her lands. Taking this into account, it should be admitted that Scarlett actually cared about her home, because it turned out to be a sacred place for her. In fact, Scarlet realized the words of her father:
Do you mean to tell me, Katie Scarlett O’Hara, that Tara, that land doesn’t mean anything to you? Why, the land is the only thing in the world worth workin’ for, worth fightin’ for, worth dyin’ for, because it’s the only thing that lasts (Mitchell chapter 2).
Previously, Scarlet used to postpone all her deals for tomorrow in case she was confused at the moment. However, she did it at this time as well: she decided to think about making Rhett Butler come back later while she turned back to return to Tara, which was her home.
Therefore, it is possible to say that all life obstacles, class reputation, and even family relationship with Rhett Butler cannot be compared to Scarlet’s native lands, which, as her father had said, fed and protected her and were worth living and dying for. Hence, the native land was the victim of the post-war hunger and poverty, and it gave a chance to escape them at the same time. In addition, as the author personally admitted, it is doubtless that the character of Scarlet is dynamic, but it actually is developing through the entire book. As a consequence, one of the main characters actually states this development: “In the end what will happen will be what has happened whenever a civilization breaks up. The people who have brains and courage come through and the ones who haven’t are winnowed out (Mitchell chapter 31).”
To sum up, Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell is a classical representative of the historical literature. To be more precise, the book touches upon the period of the Civil War and the following years. In fact, this review discusses this book primarily from the perspective of the themes of hunger in poverty. As the analysis and relevant quotations from the book show, the author managed to render the message of love and respect to the native land. In fact, this message is conveyed through depicting starvation and poverty in the post-war period. To be more exact, a representative of the upper class of the southern population, Scarlet O’Hara, had to work hard and act in a deceptive and dishonest way in order to stay alive and save her home. Therefore, the need for food and money was so strong that considerable alternations in the personality of the main character are regarded as positive. Taking this into consideration, the most peculiar features of the post-war period, starvation and decline, have been fully depicted in Gone With the Wind. Even though some critics claimed that the book expresses the idea of Ku Klux Klan movement or even lacks the main idea as a matter of fact, the book presents itself a significant cultural and moral value for the world literature. Actually, there were attempts to spoil the reputation of the author, who managed to describe poverty and hunger so strongly that Gone With the Wind has become a part of the world’s classical literature.
- Brown, F. Ellen, and John Wiley, Jr. Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With The Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey from Atlanta to Hollywood. Lanham: Taylor Trade Publications, 2011. Print.
- Mitchell, Margaret. Gone With The Wind. Palo Alto: GoodBook LLC, 2013. Print.