Thursday, June 18, 2015

Gone With the Wind Read-Along Check-In #1

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Chapters 1-10
And now for one of my favorite books of all time...Gone With the Wind!! 
After 45 years it still is one of my absolute favorites. 
It's been a long time since I last reread it and I believe I appreciate it more, the older I get! 

  These people, drawn from many different places and with many different backgrounds, gave the whole life of the County an informality that was new to Ellen, an informality to which she never quite accustomed herself. She instinctively knew how Coast people would act in any circumstance. There was never any telling what north Georgians would do. 
  And, quickening all of the affairs of the section, was the high tide of prosperity then rolling over the South. All of the world was crying out for cotton, and the new land of the County, unworn and fertile, produced it abundantly. Cotton was the heartbeat of the section, the planting and the picking were the diastole and systole of the red earth. Wealth came out of the curving furrows, and arrogance came too--arrogance built on green bushes and the acres of fleecy white. If cotton could make them rich in one generation, how much richer they would be in the next! (39)
I believe this to be one of the most succinct descriptions of the southern US and its rise due to agriculture at the time. And just listen to the earth...diastole...systole... Perhaps because I am a displaced farm girl, I can just see those fields...and feel nature's rhythms. Scarlett's father, Gerald, got quite a catch with her mother, Ellen, who was from a rather genteel southern family. 
Ah, Gerald and his horse riding! As Scarlett watches him approach on horseback:
...jumping fences and keeping it a secret from his wife gave him a boyish pride and guilty glee that matched her own pleasure in outwitting Mammy. (19)
Perhaps Scarlett just inherited her scheming little mind, and her insistence to do just as she pleases, no matter what Mammy or her mother says! 

I had rather forgotten just how much Scarlett and Mammy tried to manipulate each other! So funny! And all the customs of dress and manners in those days and times! They seem so ridiculous to me now in so many ways! Men were rude and outspoken, women were always kind, gracious and forgiving. (41) (Yep! I would have never made it as a Southern Belle!) I so enjoy Mitchell's writing--it really is superb. I was shocked at just how fast the story moves, yet I feel the characterization and detailed settings are so thorough and well defined! I feel as if I'm right there beside Scarlett...and Mammy...and Melanie...down in the Deep South! Oh, and especially Rhett!! I love me some Rhett!! ;)
I had the best time discovering pictures to post! Oh, my, the way Scarlett and Mammy do fuss at each other! And Scarlett is surely no angel, to say the least!
     But for all the modesty of her spreading skirts, the demureness of hair netted smoothly into a chignon and the quietness of small white hands folded in her lap, her true self was poorly concealed. The green eyes in the carefully sweet face were turbulent, willful, lusty with life, distinctly at variance with her decorous demeanor. Her manner had been imposed upon her by her mother's gentle admonitions and the sterner discipline of her mammy; her eyes were her own. (1)
I chuckled and giggled at Scarlett and Mammy negotiating over the breakfast food before the Wilkes' barbeque! That whole thing about a lady not eating much! So funny to! Back then, such silliness was taken so very seriously! 

And the Tarleton family, especially those twins! (So glad they were not my sons!) In the usual "manly" feats the twins excelled, 
  And they were equally outstanding in their notorious inability to learn anything contained 
between the covers of books. Their family had more money, more horses, more slaves 
  than any one else in the County, but the boys had less grammar than most of their poor 
  Cracker neighbors. (2)
Observing Scarlett and the twins:
  The faces of the three on the porch were neither slack nor soft. They had the vigor and 
  alertness of country people who have spent all their lives in the open and troubled their 
  heads very little with dull things in books. (2)
Mitchell states it succinctly and leaves no room for doubt as to the lack of academic achievement or motivation to do so among these spoiled southern children. (Makes a shiver go up and down my spine!) For instance, when describing the local soon-to-be Confederate Troop, 
     Drills always ended in the saloons of 
  Jonesboro, and by nightfall so many 
  fights had broken out that the officers 
  were hard put to ward off casualties 
  until the Yankees could inflict them. (12)
That had me laughing out loud--literally! :)

And of course, Scarlett has all the young men waiting on her hand and foot. And she is such a conniving little wench! She's constantly monitoring Ashley and Melanie since their engagement is to be announced--certain that if only she can get Ashley alone and confess her unbridled love for him, he will forsake Melanie and run off with her that very night! Good grief! What conceit! That extends way beyond self-confident

  "...Ashley was born of a line of men who used their leisure for thinking, not doing, for spinning brightly colored dreams that had in them no touch of reality. He moved in an inner world that was more beautiful than Georgia and came back to reality with reluctance. He looked on people, and he neither liked nor disliked them. He looked on life and was neither heartened nor saddened. He accepted the universe and his place in it for what they were, and, shrugging, turned to his music and books and his better world. 
  Why he should have captivated Scarlett when his mind was a stranger to hers she did not know. (18)
And that, my friends, pretty much says it all as to how differently these two approach and live life. Although the phrase "opposites attract" is often used, I wonder just how often that really works?
Scarlett finally manages to speak with Ashley "alone"...or so she thinks... Enter Rhett! That handsome devil! He hears every word of Scarlett's profession of adoration and love to Ashley and then rises up from the sofa where he was lying down to let her know he knows... I secretly always loved Rhett for doing that...putting Scarlett in her place, more or less, and guaranteeing a hold over her, which she took very seriously! Even her usual "I won't think of that now...If I think of it now, it will upset me." (51) can't quite dispel her disappointment, anger, and embarrassment to realize Rhett, alone, knows her true feelings. 

And then poor Charles Hamilton, Melanie's brother. That poor soul! He never even saw it coming or knew what had hit him, did he? ;) As Scarlett admitted to herself within a day of her marriage, 
...she regretted it all. She had often heard of people cutting off their noses to spit their faces but heretofore it had been only a figure of speech. Now she knew just what it meant. (92)
As soon as the men started leaving the Wilkes' plantation to plan for going to war, the cold calculating Scarlett re-emerged long enough to figure she could do worse than marry Charles. 
  "He has a lot of money,"..."And he hasn't any parents to bother me and he lives in Atlanta. And if I married him right away it would show Ashley that I didn't care a rap--that I was only flirting with him. And it would just kill Honey." (89)
Within two weeks Scarlett became Mrs. Charles Hamilton (The day before Ashley and Melanie's wedding!) and within two months she was a widow, pregnant with her dead husband's child. And poor Charles? As did many thousands of other "volunteers," he died of disease as a result of unsanitary crowded living conditions with insufficient shelter. He never even got close to war. Scarlett arrives in Atlanta to stay with Melanie and Aunt Pittypat and
The difference between the two girls lay in the fact that Melanie spoke kind and flattering words from a desire to make people happy, if only temporarily, and Scarlett never did it except to further her own aims. (109)

In the process of helping to nurse soldiers and work to raise funds for the various hospitals, Rhett re-enters Scarlett's life and scandalously bids the highest amount to dance with her (A newly widowed mother of an infant, for goodness sakes!) at the major fundraiser. Needless to say, this thrilled 17-year-old Scarlett and prompted her father, Gerald, to come for her. Do you think Scarlett returned to Tara with him? Let's just say it is rather uncanny how seamlessly Scarlett and Rhett work together and scheme their way to getting what they want... They seem to have forged an unspoken unconscious formidable partnership! 

I realize I am more than a month behind with this initial posting, but I love love love this book, and I will catch up!! Promise! Are you joining in the Read-Along? It is interesting that the URL for the pursuit of happiness now leads to a message that the authors have deleted the site...hmmm... Well, I guess that means we're on our own! But so be it! I will still catch up and bravely continue onward! I have found at least one other blogger participating and posting: Bryn at GleaningfulWho knows? Perhaps there are more out there! :)


  1. I love re-living the first few chapters with this post! The book is so good I bet you won't have any problems catching up :) There are more bloggers out there participating! Here's a link up where you'll find Deborah, Maria, TJ, and Brona:

    1. Thanks so much for the link, Bryn! I did discover you-all the other evening once I finally had time to explore, but this makes it much easier! I had to restrain myself from posting EVERY SINGLE WORD Mitchell wrote in these first 10 chapters. I have read this book many times but not for a very long time and I just don't want to stop reading it once I start! Thanks for stopping by! Hopefully I'll get caught up soon!

  2. I'm so behind on posting (and reading due to vacation), but I hope to catch up soon! Do you know if the host is still around? I tried going to her page and it isn't available anymore. I hope I just have the link wrong.

    1. Hi, Jenna! Actually, Corinne is taking a necessary break from blogging for now, but some other bloggers are standing in for her to keep the GWTW Read-Along going. Bryn was gracious enough to include the following link in her comment: I think you'll find that it has continued on Brona's blog. :) I hear you about being behind, but it's fine these are just arbitrarily assigned "due dates" anyway and I think we're all good with being behind! :) Just keep plugging along, and I will too, and hopefully we'll both catch up soon! :)

  3. I haven't been posting my thoughts, but I'm definitely reading and loving everyone else's posts. I haven't read Gone With the Wind since high school and it's almost like reading the book for the first time now that so many (many) years have passed. I agree with you that it's so well-written, the characters and the South as a character itself I just love it. I always liked Scarlett and Rhett, but after this re-reading I think they will go down as two my all-time favourite characters.

    1. Ooohhh...I, as I'm sure would many others, would love to read your thoughts! :) Yes, I admit through all the reading I've done in almost 60 years, this book is just one of my top favorites!! She wastes not one word and this is definitely a Pulitzer selection with which I agree wholeheartedly! Glad to know you're reading along with us! Fantastic!

  4. I love how you sad Mitchell doesn't waste a word. It seems odd in such a huge book, but you're right, every word adds to the story, adds to our knowledge of a character or develops the plot.
    Those first 10 chapters are so good at setting the scene. All the characters introduced, the setting describe beautifully and motivations set up for future events. Masterful stuff by Mitchell.

    Glad you found our regrouped group. Since Corinne's blog is gone, feel free to add your catch up posts to my Mr Linky or leave your URL in any comments you make on other people's posts :-)

    1. Yep! What masterful writing to make a reader feel as if each word in such a large book is of the utmost importance! Anxious to read and review the rest, but other commitments call right now Glad you're taking up the GWTW Read-Along! Thank you for that! Hope I used the Mr. Linky correctly--I'm old and not-so-tech-savvy, after all! :)

  5. The book and I had a shaky beginning, but I truly enjoy it now. And the pictures you added to your post make me want to watch the movie again. I think that will be my wrap-up, once I finish the book. (I think it only gets better and better!)

    1. To watch the movie once I've read the book is also my plan! I have see the movie at least 5-6 times, and those images just appear in my head as I read! When I searched for pictures and discovered these from the movie, well...that was it! I had to use them! Sorry for the iffy beginning, but glad to hear you're are enjoying your read now! Yay! :)