Sunday, November 6, 2011

Gone with the Wind

Prior to this moment in my life, I've had a strict no re-reading policy. My motto has always been "So many books, so little time," so clearly, I have no time to waste for rereads. I had a sweatshirt sporting this slogan that I wore exactly once to school in sixth grade. That's all the further I'd like to go with that story; the pain is still raw. ;) But I'm glad I revisited Gone with the Wind. You get a lot more out of a book when you're 27 than you did when you were 13. 

You know the story: it's the tale of how one Southern woman survives the turbulence of the Civil War and the years following. What struck me this time was that Margaret Mitchell wrote an epic 1000+ page tome with a protagonist who was detestable. Name a bad character trait: Scarlett's got it. She's lied, cheated, stolen, committed adultery in everything but the final act, wished death upon others, hated, and murdered. She's cruel, greedy, selfish, mercenary, manipulative, unfeeling, immature and loves herself and money (oh yeah, and that wuss, Ashley Wilkes) above all else. Granted, these are the traits that allowed her to survive the War and Reconstruction.

It strikes me as kind of a brave thing to do. Usually protagonists are likeable characters who may have One Tragic Flaw. But Scarlett O'Hara may have only One Virtue and that a dubious one: the gumption to survive at any cost. I was hoping that the ending had miraculously changed since I last read it. I wanted Scarlett to be humbled and broken and to finally let herself love the man who had wanted her and protected her and befriended her for years. The man who saw her at her worst, knew the blackness of her tiny hardened heart and loved her anyway. Rhett Butler.

Oh. My. Goodness. RHETT BUTLER. I've always had an unreasonable attraction to bad boys. And Rhett is Bad. So Bad that he practically invented it. The scenes between Scarlett and Rhett just crackle with electricity and are some of the best scenes I've ever read. If Rhett's grand entrances at the party at Twelve Oaks and later at the ball in Atlanta don't make you a little breathless, you may need to check your pulse. I won't include the whole passages for fear that I will dissolve into a flustered, blushing puddle as I type them, but here's the abbreviated passages. All the key words you need to know:

stranger...staring at her in a cool impertinent way... powerfully built... wide shoulders, so heavy with muscles... he smiled... his eyes were as bold and black as any pirate's... cool recklessness.... a body that was powerful and latently dangerous in its lazy grace... a man of lusty and unashamed appetites... utter assurance... in his eyes a twinkle of malice...
He's bad and dangerous and delicious. As delicious as this epic novel.

5/5 stars. Still amazing. Still heartbreaking.

3 comments:

thelibrarianreads said...

Damn, this really is an amazing book. That's all I have to say from my Rhett induced puddle on the floor

JackieWB said...

I am not besieged by a no re-reading policy, and have read Gone With the Wind no less than 9 times (I've lost count). I actually just finished a re-read two weeks ago - the first on my Kindle, though.

If you really want some Rhett Butler, I very highly recommend the GWTW sequel by Donald McCaig, Rhett Butler's People (skip the one called Scarlett, it sucks).

Glad our dear LindzerWest introduced me to your blog, and thelibrarianreads, with you Wuthering Wednesdays. I did my senior Honors English project for Imbernone on it - and actually enjoyed it immensely.

rachelkiwi said...

jackie,
wow! more than 9 times! i will have to consider rhett butler's people. i've looked at it before, but i'm hesitant. i'm scared to tarnish what margaret mitchell created.

i've always loved wuthering heights too! hellooo heathcliff!