Saturday, April 10, 2010

Gone with the Wind Check-in #6: Rhett and Scarlett

Can you believe we only have 9 chapters left? And it's such a short section of the book, just 150 pages in the mass market paperback edition I have. I was very tempted to just finish it, but I don't want my comments on each section to get blurred.

I have to admit that I got bogged down by the history of Atlanta and the Klan and the politics of the time. It's not that isn't interesting or informative, it is and I do appreciate it, but it makes the book a bit heavier reading. I must admit, my favorite parts of the book are Rhett and Scarlett together though I often can't believe how unaware Scarlett is of her own feelings. She knows her mind so well in many other matters, as she tells Ashley, she can't be anybody but herself, but she's clung to the illusion of Ashley for so long that she fails to recognize how she feels about Rhett.

I loved the scene shortly after Frank is killed when Rhett comes to see Scarlett. She is full of a sort of guilt over how unhappy she made Frank and terrified that God shall send her to hell. As Scarlett talks to him, it says something like Scarlett often felt that everyone else she knew were strangers except for Rhett. (I don't have my book with me so it's not an exact quote) This just killed me. She thinks this because they are so alike and yet also I believe because she loves him. It's so frustrating!!! Anyway fantastic scene filled with such great tension though Rhett's agony over her lack of love is rather heartbreaking.

I also found the whole convict labor issue fascinating. As soon as this issue was brought up, I was dying to know what the big deal was and what the difference was between convict labor and slavery, in the eyes of the Southerners. I'm glad Mitchell did bring that up and while the answer was unsatisfactory, I can't help but wonder, the way I often do while reading timeless novels, what we do in our times and justify in our way, what actions of our own have we blinded ourselves to that future generations will condemn us for.

I liked Scarlett less through these past two sections. While I understand what drives her, I am not a fan of her cruelty or of her building her wealth off of the poor and unfortunate. And I have to admit to liking Melanie a little bit more through these sections.

Which reminds me of another interesting point. When Scarlett befriends the Yankees, Melanie tells her she cannot forget what they did and she will make sure her children know and her children's children. And I think how effective that was, how strong the traces of the Civil War still are in the South, how there's still a sense of Confederate pride. But at the same time, it made me feel so thankful for the way each generation is like a rebirth, each time a new generation is born, it's a chance for redemption to right the past wrongs of history.

And of course I like Rhett. He's not a perfect character but he's interesting and he knows Scarlett so well.

I don't know if I've mentioned this before but one thing I love about Rhett and Scarlett is how much they remind me of one of my favorite TV couples:

Chuck and Blair

All in all, I really really love this book. I am so glad that I decided to read it this year and I really look forward to the last pages.

What were your feelings on this section of the book? How do you feel about Scarlett? Do you find the history a bit much to wade through?


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