Since the death of George Floyd there has been a media frenzy over Gone with the Wind. HBO has temporarily removed the movie from its streaming because of its stereotype racism. Others have written editorials about it. By the time I finished this book it was decided by some that the book has merit. It shows how people of that era thought about blacks.
Margaret Mitchell also seemed to have a racial ax to grind. She showed in her book how Uncle Tom’s Cabin with its hound dogs and mean-as-snakes foremen was not true. When asked about Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Scarlett didn’t know anything about hound dogs except one small, pathetic one. And later, wanting to go back to Tara, Big Sam Tara’s foreman, said Scarett’s father would never have whipped someone as expensive as he. The implication was that whipping slaves was rare. Right or wrong this was Margaret Mitchell’s opinion.
However, in Gone with the Wind the slaves were slaves for life. Slaves were purchased and owned by another. They did not have the opportunity to change to another line of work other than slavery. Slaves thought of themselves as lower than white people. The whites were condescending towards slaves. Slaves were thought of as children.
There was one non-stereotype slave named Peter who made decisions for his owner’s family after he died. But for the most part it was thought that slaves were unable to make decisions for themselves. So as “good” as the slaves may have had it in Georgia there was stereotype racism in Gone with the Wind. The current racial unrest has made me think about these things. I am glad it did.
In spite of the racial stereotyping there was much I enjoyed and gain by rereading Gone with the Wind. It is a great story with great writing. I loved it before. I still love it. Margaret Mitchell had an uncanny understanding of the human heart. She was a good historian. The following are some of the things I liked or found interesting:
I enjoyed the history. Gone with the Wind is full of history. It explained the difficulty the whites had adjusting to a world without slavery. Some people made it. Some did not. It was also told how Georgia lost its rule to the North and got it back again.
Then there was Scarlett. She was a case study in narcissism. She is so ridiculous at times it made me laugh. At other times she was disgusting. She only wanted people she couldn’t have or could exploit. Often these people belonged to someone else, such as her first two husbands. It wasn’t until Melanie was dying that Scarlett realized she loved and needed her. (Melanie was like Ellen, Scarlett’s beloved mother.) When Ashley was free she didn’t want him. Once she had lost Rhett she realized she loved him.
I found the God of Margaret Mitchell disappointing. Scarlett was truly remorseful when she realized she had been the cause of her second husband’s death. Her God was a wrathful God not a God who saves. To calm her fears Rhett encouraged her to believe that God would understand why she did what she had done. At that moment Scarlett’s life could have changed forever had she seen the truth of God in Jesus Christ. But really, that would be too much to ask.
The other people in Gone with the Wind were also religious folks. There are many references to God and prayer but there was nothing about Jesus Christ. However, the moral of the story is a Biblical truth.
Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.
A man reaps what he sows.¹
Scarlett loved no one but herself and in the end everyone had either died or deserted her: Ellen, Gerald, Bonnie, Mammy, Melanie, Ashley and Rhett. Scarlett reaped what she had sown. In the end she had no one.
¹ Galatians 6:7 NIV, 1984
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