The Problem with Gone with the Wind

Sarah Rees Brennan pointed me to this article about Gone with the Wind by Elizabeth Meryment. It annoyed me. So prepare yourself for a rant. Basically Meryment argues that all criticism of Gone with the Wind (book and film) over the last few decades has been dreadfully unfair, especially from feminists, and why can’t we all just enjoy such a women-centric book with its array of fabulous strong female characters. Now, I happen to agree that Gone with the Wind features many wonderful strong women. However, that being true does not contradict any of the criticisms made of both book and film.

Why do people find it so hard to love something and accept that it’s flawed?

Gone with the Wind is at once a tale of strong women and appallingly racist. Just as there were women who campaigned long and hard for women’s suffrage who were also members of the Klu Klux Klan. Being a feminist does not mean you can’t be racist. Alas.

When I was wee I read the book multiple times and saw the movie almost as often. To this day I can quote the novel’s opening lines: “Scarlett OHara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm as the Tarleton twins were.” (No, I didn’t have to google that.) Until my discovery of Flowers in the Attic1 there was no book I loved more than Gone with the Wind. I haven’t re-read it in more than a decade but I still know it better than any book other than Pride and Prejudice. I’m in a good position to unpick Meryment’s claims:

Scarlett O’Hara [is] a woman of substance. No cowering southern belle, here is a woman who is resourceful and resilient and does what she must to survive.

Yet critics and academics, in the seven decades since the film’s release, have been almost unanimous, and disapproving: Scarlett is no feminist but a damsel in distress who relies on feminine charms to get her way. She steals other women’s men, has an insatiable lust for Melanie’s dreary husband Ashley Wilkes and suffers from a chronic flirting problem. Worst of all, she allows Rhett to ravish her during a night of passion that she finds rather enjoyable.

Here’s the thing, all the above is true. Scarlett O’Hara is a woman of substance but throughout the course of the book she also relies on her feminine charms to get her way and has flirts with pretty much everyone who’s male and white. She is a multiple stealer of other women’s men—including her own sister’s—she does have an insatiable lust (which she confuses with true love) for the deadly dull Ashley Wilkes, and she does get ravished by Rhett in an extremely scary scene which (in the movie) cuts to her smiling and happy in the morning.2

All true.

As Meryment points out Scarlett O’Hara’s story begins when she’s sixteen and ends when she’s twenty-eight. During that time she lives through a war, sees many people she cares about die, loses two husbands, has three children, and goes from being a simpering southern belle to a shrewd business woman.

“Scarlett is a survivor,” says Toni Johnson-Woods, a professor of popular culture at the University of Queensland. “She’s the sort of person who would cut up the curtains to make a dress. She gets dirty. She works. She doesn’t actually do anything bad. She’s manipulative, but what person isn’t when they have to be?”

Johnson-Woods seems not to have read the same book I did. [Scarlett] doesn’t actually do anything bad. What now? Let’s leave aside all the lying and those two stolen husbands. I mean India Wilkes and Scarlett’s own sister, Suellen, clearly had it coming. Wanna keep your man? Then hold on to him tighter. Let’s put aside Scarlett’s multiple attempts to commit adultery with Ashley Wilkes.3 And let’s forget that Scarlett saw nothing wrong with slavery. She was sixteen when the war started and brought up to believe in such an evil system. But how about her using slave labour after the war is over in the form of convicts to work her saw mill and allowing her manager to beat them half to death? How’s that for an actually bad thing?

Now I happen to think that Scarlett O’Hara’s ethical impairment and selfishness is part of what makes her such a dynamic and believable literary creation. She lies, she cheats, she does pretty much whatever it takes to survive and save herself, her family and her land. But you don’t have to pretend that she never does anything bad to find her complex and three-dimensional. Many of my favourite literary creations—Mouse in Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins books, Highsmith’s Ripley, pretty much any character ever written by Jim Thompson—do many bad bad things. I don’t need to pretend that they’re good in order to enjoy reading about them.

Scarlett has many good qualities but she has plenty of bad ones too. Frankly I would not want her for a friend because she’s one of those women who only notices men. She doesn’t even realise what an amazing friend Melanie has been to her until Melanie’s on her death bed. Scarlett is not BFF material. And she’s not a feminist. She doesn’t care whether women get to vote or not, she doesn’t care about women as a group, only about herself and her family. She has no political consciousness at all.

Film critics also have been circumspect about Scarlett’s place as a feminist symbol, as well as horrified, in more enlightened times, by the glorification of the slave life on the southern plantations. As The Australian’s film critic Evan Williams noted in a 1981 review, published at the time of a re-release: “The film’s attitude to blacks (referred to constantly as ‘darkies’), to say nothing of its attitude to women, would scarcely find favour today. Slavery was glossed over; male authority taken for granted.”

Yet, for all its perceived flaws, the film and the novel are deeply loved, and remain the top-selling novel of all time (more than 30 million sales worldwide) and the highest grossing movie ($1,450,680,400 in box-office takings, adjusted for inflation). Now, in the US, where hardcore feminism has been decried for more than a decade, new perspectives about the film are emerging.

Evan Williams is spot on. Pointing out the film’s popularity does not change that. Lots of racist and sexist novels and films are deeply loved and do incredibly well. Success does not render a book or movie free of flaws.

Meryment writes “perceived flaws” as if to imply that Williams and other people who have criticised Gone with the Wind‘s racism are just imagining it. We’re not. None of the black characters in the book are fully-realised, three-dimensional characters. None of them have lives or dreams or aspirations outside of O’Hara and her family. They live in order to serve their masters. Before and after the Civil War. The book and the film are caught up in a poisonously romantic view of slavery wherein the slaves were happy to be slaves, were miserable when the South lost the war, and just wished their masters would keep looking after them. It’s only the bad negroes who make trouble. (The book and film’s language, not mine.)

In Gone with the Wind the Klu Klux Klan are the good guys.

Yeah, right, we’re imagining the racism.

Why just look at the character of Mammy, says Meryment, she’s a strong character! That proves the book isn’t racist:

Of all the strong females, perhaps Mammy is the most galling for ardent critics of the film. Black, enslaved and conforming to 1930s stereotype of the loyal, usually overweight, woman who offered cheerful servitude to her owners, McDaniel’s Mammy is nevertheless a complex and confronting creation. Indomitable and opinionated, she largely does as she likes, whether her masters like it or not. (“I said I was going to Atlanta with you and going with you I is,” she tells Scarlett at one point.)

Mammy is every bit the stereotype. With no life other than to look after Scarlett, which the quote above proves. The reason she’s disobeying Scarlett is in order to look after her. Not to do something for herself like find her own kin. The only reason so many argue that Mammy breaks with the stereotype is because Hattie McDaniel was a wonderful actor, who transcended the extremely limited and belittling role. There’s no such respite from the stereotype in the book. (Don’t get me started on the character of Prissy.)

To echo Meryment’s language, it is galling that a book first published in 1936, when the civil rights movement in the USA was already underway, and turned into a movie in 1939—the year that Billie Holiday first performed and recorded “Strange Fruit” about lynching in the South—could be so astonishingly blind to the evil that is slavery. That it could spend a gazillion pages and hours glorifying a system that was built on the kidnapping and enforced labour of hundreds of thousands of people appalls me. The glorious south that Margaret Mitchell is so nostalgic for was built out of exploitation, murder, and rape. But it’s even more galling that here in 2009 there are still people trying to pretend that Gone with the Wind isn’t profoundly racist so they can enjoy all its other aspects.

Yes, Gone with the Wind is an amazing book and film.4 Yes, it’s the tale of two extraordinarily strong women, Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Wilkes, and their enduring friendship5. For many years I loved it. Feel free to continue loving it, but please don’t pretend that us critics are being unfair, or in some way misreading Gone with the Wind when we call it on its nostalgic longing for an era in which the white upper classes lived decadent useless lives dependent on the blood of black people.

We’re not.

  1. I was twelve! []
  2. It freaked me out as a kid—he says he’s going to crush her skull like a walnut!—it still freaks me out. []
  3. Let’s even forget that wanting him is a crime against good taste. []
  4. It’s stood the test of time way better than Flowers in the Attic. []
  5. Even while Scarlett doesn’t realise they’re friends. Another flaw of hers: not very observant. []


  1. Mal on #

    Excellent rant! I usually get slammed when I say that GWTW is a disgusting piece of tripe that did as much to damage the rights of African Americans as Bull Connor or George Wallace. GWTW made racism (and worse: *slavery*) romantic, sentimental, stylish, and “decent.” It dressed ignorant bigotry in the robes of nostalgic Americana. If there’s one lesson feminists should be now have learned it’s that we must never build our rights and our power on the oppression of others. Scarlett O’Hara is *not* a “strong woman,” still less a “feminist icon” because her putative strength and feminism are predicated on the forced labor of others. Not to mention that on the pure face of it, she’s no model of feminism, having married her way to wealth not once but twice.

    In short, blech.

  2. Becca on #

    The idea that something has to be fair and perfect for us to love it is as ridiculous as the idea that someone has to be fair and perfect for us to love him. Books say wrong things. People do stupid things. There is something to love, anyway – and we are free to say what we hate (at least about the books. Maybe not so free to rant about the people we love!)

  3. Kate Marshall on #

    This is fascinating–thanks! I’ve never read/watched Gone With the Wind because I have only even encountered two sides of this argument: it’s racist and should be decried, and it’s amazing and we shouldn’t criticize it. Since the second position struck me as problematic even at the age of ten, I just avoided the whole thing. Now I want to get a hold of it, especially now that I have the education and awareness to engage with it on a level other than like/don’t like.

    As always, you’ve provided lots of food for thought. Thank you.

  4. JJ on #

    Real, believable flaws are what make an interesting, dynamic character. I mean, my favourite heroine of all time is Lyra Silvertongue of Philip Pullman’s HIS DARK MATERIALS and she lies, smokes, steals, manipulates, and does other bad things. But she’s ALSO loyal and passionate and fierce in her loves and hates.

    Personally, I hate when everything is subjected to feminist/racist/queer theory. I’m female, queer, and Asian, but I don’t need academics to tell me what “speaks” for me or doesn’t. I do believe that everything CAN be held to a theory, but that it shouldn’t diminish something’s WORTH as a work of art or otherwise. Is GONE WITH THE WIND flawed? Absolutely. Is it also a wonderfully compelling novel? Totally and completely.

    I think Scarlett is a feminist icon, but I subscribe to the belief that men and women are equal, but different. She uses her distinctly female charms to level the playing field between her and those in power. This novel is also as much a product of its times as of its history–social values have changed and so have our definitions of racism and feminism. That still doesn’t make GONE WITH THE WIND a bad book.

  5. fiona tenser on #

    I agree on all points except to add that you left out the offensive deptiction of the one poor white family. The girls spew out reams of illegitimate children. This is mentioned in the first chapter. Of course they are quislings for the northern government. Then there is the naive claim that the mixed race black people come from northern soldiers. (This attitude lives on — Jesse Helmes secret daughter anyone.)

    I was appalled to read Joan Aiken say in a book on writing children’s stories that a friend claimed she read Gone with the Wind for the history.
    Say you enjoy the story, but don’t claim it isn’t racist or bad history.

  6. Justine on #

    Kate Marshall: What I think GWTW does best is present the mindset of that era. It demonstrates that you can be a good person in many ways even when you’re entire life is built on slavery and not have your head explode. I think anyone who wants to write about racism should read the book.

    Fiona: Yup, GWTW is deeply classist as well. Only those born to money or servants/slaves know how to be good. Kind of like Georgette Heyer. Everyone else is trash.

  7. veejane on #

    Trufax: the NAACP and other organizations waged a successful lobbying campaign to make sure that the N-word did not make it into the movie of Gone With the Wind.

    …If it had, even once, I bet it would be a lot harder for people to say that the movie is not racist. It’s like people lard all their understanding of racism into a single word, as if the underlying supremacist attitude of the plot were not just as insulting.

    2nd trufax: I own my grandmother’s 1939 hardcopy of the book, but have never read it.

  8. Justine on #

    Veejane: Thanks for sharing that true fact. It’s one a lot of people keep forgetting.

    The argument that GWTS’s racism can be excused because of when it was published ignores the fact that a) it was published in the 1930s, and b) assumes that no one called it on its racism at the time.

    I honestly think some people believe GWTW was first published not long after the period in which it was set. I also get the impression that many people are unaware of what a long history organisations like the NAACP have. Yes, Virginia, people were campaigning against racism even in the olden days.

  9. Diana Peterfreund on #

    It is a mighty confusing thing to love something and also recognize that many aspects of it are offensive. (This topic comes up a lot around Thanksgiving.) You feel like you should apologize for loving it or hide your love for it because to admit liking it would be tantamount to condoning all the problematic parts.

    I really love the movie Holiday Inn and watch it every Xmas. I also fast forward through the bizarre blackface scene. I hate that a plot point is that Fred Astaire would not recognize the girl because she was in black face.

    The other night, my husband and I were watching BACK TO THE FUTURE. Apparently, one of the deleted scenes, Marty is bemoaning the fact that he is supposed to try to seduce his mother, and wonders if he does, will he go back to the future and “be gay.” My husband and I were slack-jawed. I don’t know if they cut that scene because wowsowrongwtf or for other reasons, but I’m so glad that did NOT make it into the final film.

  10. Caroline on #

    I remember when I was 13 my grandmother bought me Gone with the Wind. Up until this book I had read a lot of Anne of Green Gables, Little Women kind of books. The characters were “good” or at least they tried to be good, and if they made a mistake or hurt someone, they would apologize. This was a new kind of book.

    The main character was bad! It was interesting, but I was so horribly disgusted by Scarlet’s actions. I couldn’t imagine a person could be so selfish. It was definitely exciting, but once Scarlett decided to steal her sister’s husband, I finally threw the book down and have never finished it. The character was so real to me and I couldn’t stand being so close to someone so selfish. I thought it was a “bad” book.

    Looking back now, I realize that it was not a “bad” book- the character was a bad person. To be able to write such a convincing character and suck me into the story so much that I was truly disgusted shows how good the writing was. Being much much older now, I think I would like to finish it someday, now.

  11. Chris@bookarama on #

    GWTW falls into the category of books I can’t believe I enjoyed (like Lolita). Scarlett is sooo flawed I don’t know how anyone could miss it. She’s just awful but at the same time I do admire her survival skills. When she says she won’t go hungry again, you know she means it- no matter what it costs herself or anyone else.

    A book doesn’t have to be perfect to be appreciated. What would we have left to read?!

  12. Karen Wester Newton on #

    Personally, I have always found GWTW to be overrated. The story is about the “suffering” of one very attractive white woman and it’s pretty much oblivious to the suffering of everyone else. The movie is memorable mostly for its scope and some of its technical achievements– like the famous scene with the acres and acres of wounded men.

    Scarlet got away with being selfish because of who she was and what she looked like– not really my idea of groundbreaking literature.

  13. Delux on #

    It is a lot harder for me, than I think it is for some other people, to get all worked up about Scarlet Ohara as some sort of feminist icon: the place I would have had in Scarlet’s world is quite clear. Ditto my mother and her family living in the Jim Crow south when the book came out.
    Still, its fascinating to see the lengths to which people will go to cling to the Mammy stereotype as some sort of positive vision. I have to wonder if Merryment used this as part of her source material.

  14. London on #

    I decided at the beginning of last summer that I was going to read Gone with the Wind, because I wanted (still want) to read more “classics” and more widely outside my genre. I read the odd little introduction and then began reading the novel. I ooh’ed and ahh’ed at the beautiful language.. up to the point when Mitchell describes the black slaves walking up the hill, laughing with high-pitched little voices, like children. Ugh. How is that not racist? You can’t excuse it by saying it’s the characters’ view of African-Americans, not Mitchell’s — the narration is pretty third person omniscient imho. Those are clearly Mitchell’s own views. The silly little introduction as much as said so, but I didn’t realize how horrifying and blatant it would be, at least to me, until I got into the book itself.

    Ok, I admit, like Diana Peterfreund said about the movie she watches every Christmas, I fast-forward through the scenes in Monty Python’s Flying Circus that include blackface, but overall I still LOVE Monty Python. For some reason, I can’t forgive Mitchell the way I can forgive Monty Python. Maybe it’s because racism doesn’t pervade the work they have done the same way it seems to pervade GWTW. Maybe it’s because I think Monty Python as a group was trying, if anything, to convey a message about how absurd society is, while Mitchell was deliberately glorifying a society built and maintained by slave labor. I don’t know.

    Anyway — an eloquent and insightful post, as always, Justine. Thanks. 🙂

  15. Jan Relv on #

    Dear Justine.
    As a (french) film-making student, I have to ask: Have you ever seen David Worth Griffith’s “Birth of a Nation”? Hailed as the movie that invented everything for storytelling in movie form and suffering from, well, the same things that you denounce in Gone With the Wind? I think it is an interesting parralel.

  16. Sarah Rees Brennan on #

    Oh the deliberate whitewashing of things we love.

    Like in Rhett Butler’s People the fact Rhett shot a black dude ‘for being uppity to a lady’ – GWTW quote – was retconned, and the book was like ‘Oh – Rhett shot him when he was being DRAGGED OFF TO BE LYNCHED for talking to a white woman’ – because racism is just awful and Mr B was a progressive dude!

    Whereas flaws make things interesting: personally I love Scarlett, for instance. To crib Congreve, I love her for her faults.

  17. Alpha Lyra on #

    Brilliant post! GWTW was my mother’s favorite book. She died when I was young, so I read it a few years ago in an effort to get to know her better (not that you can learn much about a person from reading their favorite book, but if it’s all you’ve got…)

    I really enjoyed the book. I wouldn’t say I wholeheartedly liked Scarlett, but she was a lot of fun to read about. She was three-dimensional, believeable, and fascinating. I think it’s very possible to enjoy something, yet be aware of its flaws. Lots of my favorite books have places where I roll my eyes at them.

  18. Julia Rios on #

    Thank you fir this, Justine. You have laid out almost exactly my own feelings about Gone With the Wind. As a child, I saw it in school, and then read it and rented the video from my local video store multiple times. Then, slowly, I started to realize all of the horrible things that were glossed over, or even portrayed as good. I can’t quite shake the pull it has. It’s compelling. Scarlett is compelling and resourceful (even though she’s definitely not BFF material!), and Melanie remains utterly mysterious to me. Why is she so good to Scarlett? But then… yes, Mammy and Prissy. Oh, Prissy. I shudder at the memory of imitating her on the playground. I had a brief flare of semi-popularity for being able to imitate Butterfly McQueen’s voice, and I remember being so proud of it, and finding her character hilarious. It’s important to examine these things, and I’m glad that there are others like you out there doing it so eloquently.

  19. Nicole R Murphy on #

    I can’t remember the first time I saw the movie (it was when I was quite young and looooong before reading the book) but I do remember feeling immediatly uncomfortable about Scarlett and the way she used people to get what she wanted. I was always much more drawn to Melanie, who to my mind had a quiet strength and was cared for because she was who she was and didn’t have to force it like Scarlett did. If Scarlett is a poster-girl for feminism, I think we’re in trouble.

    I think this is an important discussion to have – freely talking about the flaws of something, even if you love it as a whole (or love aspects of it). If you can’t do this with books, movies and so on, how on earth can you do it with people? It’s a reason I love the Smart Bitches Trashy Books blog – those girls do love their romance, but recognise at times the genre goes horribly, horribly wrong and that should be noted and brought to attention so the genre as a whole can improve.

  20. Justine on #

    Delux: OMG! That’s not a parody is it? Thanks for the link, both of them. They hit on the head why the Mammy stereotype is so appalling. I’ve added that link to the post.

    Jan Relv: I’ve never seen Birth of a Nation but I’ve read a great deal about it. And, yes, it has a lot in common with GWTW.

  21. Tere Kirkland on #

    Loving GWTW is like eating deep-fried Oreos– you know they’re horrible for you, yet you love them anyway. There are plenty of books and movies I have a love/hate relationship with, but the buttons GWTW pushes are much hotter than most of my “guilty pleasures” (LK Hamilton, anyone?).

    Thanks for a great post.

  22. Summer on #

    Woooo! You are just so awesome!
    I swear you are my new hero! (You’re probabley one of the only author’s who actually bother’s to speak out about this stuff!

    Don’t get me started on the character of Prissy.

    Please do? I really enjoy your rants. Their very enlighting-I’ve never read the book and haven’t seen the film in ages-I’d forgotten all of this! (Somehow)

    ( Footnote one: Well, at least you were a child. I’ll try not to laugh to hard. 😉 )

  23. Summer on #


    Definently love JJ’s comment. I love Lyra-and most of my favorite characters are pretty ‘bad’-but very human in that sense.

  24. Shveta Thakrar on #

    Yes, Gone with the Wind is an amazing book and film. Yes, it’s the tale of two extraordinarily strong women, Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Wilkes, and their enduring friendship. For many years I loved it. Feel free to continue loving it, but please don’t pretend that us critics are being unfair, or in some way misreading Gone with the Wind when we call it on its nostalgic longing for an era in which the white upper classes lived decadent useless lives dependent on the blood of black people.

    We’re not.

    *happy sigh* Oh, how I love your essays. I agree completely. It’s like people think if they acknowledge the flaws, they have to admit to a failing in themselves. No! Just admit it’s there; observe with clear eyes. That’s all we’re asking. As you said, Justine, people can still love what they love while acknowledging the problems. That’s how we change things–by taking a real look at the perceptions we take for granted in our own lives.

  25. Jodie on #

    Thanks for this post Justine. I’ve been struggling with my feelings over a certain insanely popular series and my feminist principles. How can I be saying I enjoy this series when there’s so much awfully wrong with the ideas behind the text? Your post ad the comments go someway towards answering this. As for the fact that there are people taking the opposite direction and trying to claim something is great when it has serious issues, that seems to be the permenant condition of 50% the world, in so many different arenas at the moment.

  26. Kaethe on #

    Brava! I first read GWTW when I was 12, and moving out of Nancy Drews into real fiction. Although I haven’t reread in years, I still love it for all its flaws. Now, I see it as the sort of story people Southerners told themselves about the Civil War and Reconstruction. (And among family and older acquaintances, still tell) Then, I read it as a manual for capturing the attention of guys without being all that pretty. More than perhaps any other story, my perception has changed enormously over the years.

    I read Rebecca by DuMaurier when I was twelve, too. I’d love to see what you have to say about that.

  27. sylvia_rachel on #

    I think you’re absolutely right in principle, and in general (one can love a thing while still seeing its flaws with clear eyes; there are other options between “ZOMG best thing evar” and “eeeeeeevil!1!”).

    The only thing that stops me being in 100% agreement with everything you say above is that I’ve never found GWTW even a little bit appealing, even at the age when I was gobbling up Flowers in the Attic. (Disclaimer: I haven’t read the book, and have seen the movie probably only one and a half times.)

    As an adult, I find the sexism and racism, the glorification of the antebellum slave economy, and Scarlett’s callous disregard for the suffering of everyone who isn’t her repellent. I can’t honestly say how much of that I registered, or could have articulated, at the time when I first saw the film (I was in junior high, I think, but I can’t get any more precise than that — obviously it was not a life-changing experience, or I’d remember). But I already didn’t like it much and, frankly, couldn’t see what the big deal was.

    Of course, I’m a heretic: I don’t like the Hollywood version of The Wizard of Oz, either.

  28. John H on #

    Growing up in the Atlanta area, I’ve seen the kinds of latent (and oftentimes blatant) racism that still exists. The little old lady who used to watch my sister and me while our parents were at work was as sweet as could be, and as racist as the day is long.

    I can only imagine how bad it was when Margaret Mitchell was growing up. The story goes that as a girl she would sit and listen to the war stories of the old Confederate veterans — no doubt the source of her idealized version of the South and her not so flattering portrayal of northerners.

    Some of this can be forgiven in the same way you might forgive Mark Twain for the racist language and stereotypes he used — what was acceptable in their time has become unacceptable in ours. But where Mark Twain was interested in changing the conventional attitudes, Margaret Mitchell glorifies those old ways and ideas.

    That’s what I find unforgivable.

  29. Daisy on #

    Have you read _The Wind Done Gone_, a retelling of GWTW from a slave’s POV? It’s excellent.

  30. Marly on #

    Can you believe that Margaret Mitchell wanted to name the main character Pansy O’Hara? I talk to people all the time about the importance of names and I think the same must be true for even fictional characters! Scarlett O’Hara – as you describe – is a wildly complicated character. Pansy wouldn’t have suited her. Scarlett was the perfect name for this feisty character. Thanks for your post!

  31. Rose on #

    Yes; that’s the danger of superglueing bits of your identity to things that you like: any criticism turns into a possibly disasterous unraveling of the entire self. (See also, Roman Polanski, defense of)

    Mal @ 20 and John H @ 29 in particular remind me of a very good essaylet by Kaigou ( about GWtW, tangential to a discussion of orientalist-style cultural fetishism. Basically she says that GWtW is the culmination of a narrative that begins in the North right after the war, becomes wildly popular there, and is subsequently adopted by the South for various reasons, including commercial/economic ones. Very worth a read, including the comments.

  32. Nikki on #

    You’re right! Actually, a few days ago my mom rented Gone With the Wind again, and it had been year since I had seen that movie!
    I’m fourteen now, so I can understand the depth and plot, characters, etc. better.
    I did notice how Scarlett kept her slaves, Mammy, Prissy, Pork, still after the war. I just thought “Hmm…maybe they’re not slaves anymore, just regular houseworkers. That’s not illegal or anything, it’s not slavery.”
    And I also noticed how Mammy and all the other workers were so loyal to her.
    Also how Big Sam and the other black men seemed to be fighting FOR the South. I watched the movie Glory a few months ago, and the Yankees had black men on THEIR side. Slaves that I believe (correct me if I’m wrong) escaped slavery to join the Yankee side to PROTECT THEIR FREEDOM.
    I just wondered why GWTW didn’t seem to portray those types of characters in the book. The slaves here were loyal to their masters (haha, to someone like Scarlett?) and their Southern lives.
    It just bugged me a little, but I overlooked it.
    After reading this, though, it made me think it over. I suppose it did have flaws, huh? Every book/movie does. Even the ones that continue to be praised decades on.
    At least you’re a fan of the book/movie. Otherwise I’d be slightly offended, because I’m a fan of it.

    This makes me want to read the book even more now.
    Thanks for the post! I ought to show this to my mother! Wonder what she’d say.

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