A Capstone Essay


Crystal Truman


Author's Biographical Sketch:  I am just finishing the Interdisciplinary Studies Program at Wayne State University. It has been a wonderful experience, and I have made so many new friends. I am planning on applying for the Masters Program in Library Science, also at Wayne, focusing on Children's Studies.


Submitted to the Interdisciplinary Studies Program

College of Lifelong Learning

Wayne State University

Detroit, Michigan

In partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of


December, 2001



Approved by:

      _______________________________________          Date   ____________

                     (Capstone Essay Advisor: Dr. Moti Nissani)


      _______________________________________           Date  ____________

                         (Capstone Essay Examiner: Dr. Natalie Atkin)

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Crystal Truman



I feel that the novel, Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell has a mission. This mission is the perpetuation of the myth of the glorious South. I believe that the author presents this by using four major points. The four points are the Glory of the Old South, the acceptability of slavery, the Evils of Reconstruction, and the Ku Klux Klan. I picked out these points while reading the novel. I decided to focus my essay on Margaret Mitchell’s background, to explain why she wrote the novel like she did, a summary of the novel, and a comparison of the novel to the movie, which is even more popular than the book. In this essay I will be unable to explore all the four points listed above; instead I will show the second one, slavery, both from the standpoint of the novel and from that of history, to see how accurate the author was historically and how partial she was to Southern sentiments.

I chose this topic because it has always amazed me how popular the movie still is after 62 years, despite its controversial subject matter. I personally did not care for the movie when I watched it, but I never questioned why. When I questioned people why they enjoyed the movie so much, their answers varied. Some said it was a great love story. Some said it was an excellent historical rendition of the Old South. Some said it was a technologically advanced film. Rarely did anyone say that they had also read the book. I wondered how closely the movie followed the novel. I wanted to see how historically accurate was Margaret Mitchell in telling her tale and I wanted to see if her background clouded her depiction of the "real South". Therefore I decided to do my essay on this topic.

The methodology I followed in preparing for this essay involved a lot of reading. I had to read the novel of course, and then watch the movie for the comparison. Also, I had to read about the author, Margaret Mitchell, and the time period in which she grew up. The most involved reading was about the "good old days" and about slavery. I also read about the Ku Klux Klan and about Reconstruction so that I could have a well-rounded view of the time period both before and after the Civil War. As well, I read about the 1930’s so I could better understand Margaret Mitchell.

I would like to thank my family for helping me out as much as possible while writing my essay. I would also like to thank the Macomb County Library for all the research materials I was able to find there. Most of all, I would like to extend a very grateful thank-you to Dr. Natalie Atkin for being on my panel. I appreciate that she took time out of her busy schedule to do this for me, especially since she did not have to. I would also like to thank her for all the comments that she made to help make my essay the best it could be.

Detroit, Michigan                                                                                             Crystal Truman

December 17, 2001


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Chapter One -- Introduction . . . 6

Chapter Two -- The Story behind the Novel

Chapter Three -- Gone with the Wind

Chapter Four -- Purpose of the Novel

Chapter Five -- Conclusion . . .38

Works Cited . . . 40

Picture Credits . . . 42

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Chapter One - Introduction

Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind is considered to be one of the most beloved novels and movies of all time. It was the Pulitzer Prize winner of 1936. A blockbuster movie was made just two years after it was published, and is just as, if not even more, famous than the novel. People continue to watch and fantasize about this novel almost seventy years after it was written. On alone there are over 300 reviews of the book, most of which praise it. In fact, a sequel was commissioned to continue the saga where Gone with the Wind left off and a TV miniseries was produced from it. They were as well received as the original and garnered high ratings. Even recently, Alice Randall has written a novel entitled, The Wind Done Gone, that is a parody of Gone with the Wind. The author tells the story from a slightly different angle, that of the slave community of Tara. She describes the slaves as being clever manipulators instead of childish simpletons.

Despite all the adulation surrounding the novel, I feel that Gone with the Wind is not that good. It is full of overly descriptive and overblown scenes. It has racist overtones and it tries to romanticize a shameful period of history. Yet, in the novel, it just doesn’t seem that bad. In fact, most of the reviews that I read on mentioned nothing about the slavery issue at all. When they do mention slavery, the reader is cautioned to remember the time period that the novel is written about. Very few of the reviews say anything about the overriding tone of the novel, which is white supremacy. Most of the reviews were focused on the romance in the story. Yet, the overriding theme in Gone with the Wind perpetuates the image of the old South populated with great sprawling plantations, filled with wealthy, beautiful young people with nothing better to do than flit from party to party. But the image it presents most of all, is the one of happy and contented slaves. It has been said that most people have learned their history of the Civil War and Reconstruction from this novel. I was surprised by how my own views of the subject had been shaped by this thinking. If the South is being accurately portrayed in this novel, then what was the need for the Civil War?

Was this the true story of the South? Was it at all like Gone with the Wind? There is some truth in the novel. Margaret Mitchell said that she did extensive research to make her novel historically accurate. But her research consisted of reading all the information from the library in Atlanta. Considering the time period, I doubt very much that the facts and information in the library were unbiased. Also, she grew up hearing stories from those who were there. The story that the author is telling is very sympathetic toward some inflammatory subjects, namely slavery, the antebellum South and especially the Ku Klux Klan. If you believe Margaret Mitchell’s description of the Ku Klux Klan, you would never know that it was and is a racist terrorist organization.

That the author managed to weave her political views so well into the story and create a legend is shown by the fact that most people do not even realize that they are enjoying reading about these subjects and are being persuaded to agreeing with the author’s viewpoint. It is very important to remember that the author is telling the story of the South from her point of view. This is a viewpoint that is biased and divorced from fact. Readers are supposed to look at the novel as a great story of courage, passion and indomitable spirit. They also become sympathetic to the Old South and its way of thinking. My question is: If the "good ole days" were so wonderful, why then do they need to be doctored? Shouldn’t they be able to stand up to the scrutiny they would face? Hopefully, this essay will see just how good they were.


Chapter Two – the Story behind the Novel

Margaret Mitchell was born in 1900, in Atlanta, Georgia. She was a true Southerner having in her background blood from some of the richest Southern families. On the maternal side her grandparents were land and slave owners, the paternal side was into commerce and real estate. Both sides shared a love for Georgia, and especially, Atlanta. Margaret was taught from the cradle the fierce pride of being a Southerner and also the importance of education. Every Sunday, the old soldiers and patriotic women relived the war, expounding on how brave the fighting men were. They had never surrendered, really, and it showed in their lives. In 1904, Atlanta had a major holiday commemorating their Confederate dead. There was a parade to mark the occasion and the Mitchell family went. It was a solemn procession and there were people crying. "This was conquered territory and they were a conquered people, and the children could feel it. Never would they get it out of their bones" (Edwards 21).

Margaret’s bedtime stories were those of the war and all its hardships. Her grandmother’s house had escaped destruction when General Sherman and the Union Army set fire to Atlanta. Her biography says that "she was taught the names of battles along with the alphabet, her lullabies were doleful Civil War songs" (Edwards 21). In fact, she heard all there was to hear about the Civil War except for one small detail - that the Confederates in reality had lost the war. Until the age of ten, she not only thought that the Confederacy had won the war, but that the war had ended shortly before her birth. Not only was the small child getting fed a steady diet of Confederate pride from her relatives, but from others as well. When Margaret was five, she was given a pony and went riding with several Confederate veterans every afternoon. "A day seldom passed when the old boys did not have a heated argument about the Civil War" (Edwards 24).

The young Margaret also spent summers at the family farm in Jonesboro. Here she heard stories from her aunt about the "terror of living in a town suddenly full of freed slaves, Yankee troops, and recently paroled Confederate soldiers" (Edwards 27). From these stories she made up stories and plays in which she was the heroine in Yankee attacks. It was at this same farm that "from the blacks in the field, she learned for the first time – and to her shocked disbelief – that the South had not won the war" (Edwards 29). It is almost fitting that she learned of the South’s loss from the black laborers, considering that she learned of its "glories" from her family.

Margaret’s childhood companions were her cousins and the neighborhood children. With her immense imagination and talent for storytelling, she "left a vivid impression on all of them. In the musty-smelling basement of her house, which overlooked the dense growth out back, she gathered gaggles of these children and spun the stories that still had the power to spook after twenty-five years" (Pyron 55). Drama became the chief focus of her adolescent creative energies. When she was fifteen she was influenced by Thomas Dixon’s book The Traitor, and D. W. Griffith’s movie Birth of a Nation so much so that she produced her own rendition of the book that was performed in front of audiences.

It is interesting to note that her father only mentioned to her the importance of not plagiarizing other’s work and nothing about the actual contents of the work she plagiarized from. Considering that The Traitor was blatant propaganda for white supremacy and the creation of a new Klan and Birth of a Nation was nothing more than a recruiting film for the Klan, one would suppose this would be inappropriate material for such an impressionable girl. But, nothing that has been written about this incident suggests that her parents were the slightest bit concerned by this influence.

Because Atlanta was segregated during this time period, the only real interactions that Margaret had with blacks were with domestic workers. Her parents always had servants in their house, as did her relatives. When she was on the farm, she interacted with the black field workers. There is no mention about her feelings of segregation or the black race at all, except when she was attending Smith College in Massachusetts. It seems that Smith did admit a few black women every year. This proved to be a problem for Margaret. She found out that she would be sharing her history class with one of these young women. "She slammed her books on the table and pronounced her anathemas on the teacher, and vowed and declared that she would go and see the dean or the president if she had to, but she was not going back into that class!" (Pyron 84-85). She was moved to another history class by the first of the week.

All of this had an impact on Margaret. She grew up thinking that the old ways were the best for everyone. She grew up in a very segregated time in history. She herself enforced the segregation. Margaret Mitchell was an avowed racist. She proves this with the only novel she would go on to write. It is remarkably similar to the movie Birth of a Nation. Both her novel and the movie start off in the Antebellum South, where everyone, slaves included, are happy. Then the devastation of the war is given in great detail. Next are the hardships the Southerners suffered during Reconstruction under Yankee dominion. But the most important similarity is the depiction of the Ku Klux Klan. It is shown to be a tragic necessity, created to protect and avenge honor. In both the movie and the novel, a black man threatens a white woman with rape. The Southern men have no choice but to avenge the woman’s honor.

By the end of her first college year in 1917, she came home. Her mother had died from influenza and both her father and her brother did not want her to receive a "northern" education. They thought that the teachings were crude and vulgar. Margaret would not learn how to be a true lady by attending school in the north. Besides, her father needed her home to keep house for him. She found it rough going. She had household duties that included oversight of an entire establishment. Domestic help freed her from actual labor, but managing servants proved to be another kind of burden. She got a reputation for being a slave driver. "After two days of labor, both for me and him – it was hard work making him work!" (Pyron 101). Here she is referring to one of the household helpers. She felt the need to be in complete control of every situation. She found no sympathy from her family. Her brother did not think that she had a very hard life. After all, "she did have Susie the cook and Charlie the chauffeur/yardman" (Pyron 102). She kept doing it, though, out of respect and to the memory of her mother, until her marriage to Red Upshaw.

But writing was in her blood. She had been putting pen to paper since she learned how to write. Her two best classes in school were composition and English. In fact, after her divorce from Red, she got a job as a newspaper reporter until her second marriage. It was only with the encouragement of her second husband that she began to write her first, and what was to be her only, novel. Still, it took her seven years to complete it. Her research consisted of all the stories that she was told as a child, and going to the library in Atlanta, where she read all about the history of the war and of the city.

Because of all the "research" that Margaret did to write Gone with the Wind, I feel that she was deliberately passing on a way of thinking that was distorted. There were books that told the correct story of the Civil War and of the Reconstruction period that she could have drawn on. Yet she chooses to tell the story that she heard growing up; the story of the unbeaten South. Also, it is too coincidental that her novel is so similar to the film, Birth of a Nation. That alone should be a major clue to where her sympathies lay. I think that Margaret Mitchell used the movie as a blueprint for her novel.

All of this had a part to play in the creation of Gone with the Wind, as did the time period in which the novel was written. It was the 1930’s, which was a time of great hardship for the nation. America was going through a depression, which lasted for almost an entire decade. Many people were out of work, many banks had failed and many people lost all their money. The basic necessities were scarce and hard to come by. The government set up soup kitchens to help alleviate the problem. It was not until World War II that America was able to pull itself out of it.

Life in the South had remained pretty much the same since the Civil War, largely an agricultural community. It remained behind the North technologically, economically, educationally. Mostly poor tenant farmers and sharecroppers, who were just making a living, farmed the land. The majority of these were black. "Economically the Negro found himself in the latter part of the nineteenth century suspended between slavery and tenant farmer peonage" (Clark xxii). However, by the 1930’s the lack of diversity and overuse of the land lead to the end of farming as a way of life, which correlated with the Great Depression. The tenant farmers, who were just making a living, either managed to stick it out, or were kicked off the land.

It was only through the passage of the Tennessee Valley Authority Act that helped alleviate the depression in the South. "The South was in the throes of a depression which perhaps bit deeper into the lives of people than it did in most other parts of the Nation. Moreover the land suffered from misuse and abuse. Resources were dangerously near exhaustion, and floods annually took their tolls of life and property. If the region was to progress, it had to have plentiful electric power, to develop a dependable source of chemical fertilizer, and to bring about a massive program of reforestation and forest management" (Clark 131).

The North represented progress. Most Southerners were afraid of change. Their way of life had remained since the end of the Civil War, and few wanted to change it. The educational system was greatly lacking, there was no industry, and farming had remained the same. Even though the blacks were freed, the laws suppressed them as if they were still slaves.

During all of this, many Americans turned to various forms of entertainment to escape the dreariness and hopelessness of their situations. These took many shapes, ranging from reading, listening to the radio and going to the movies. For most of the country, the radio kept the people informed of what was going on, and connected with the world. "Social workers found that Americans would sooner sell their refrigerators, bath tubs, telephones, and beds to make rent payments, than part with the box that connected them with the world" (Gerdes 161). Listeners came to regard radio less as a medium for the transmission of culture and education and more as a way to escape their condition. The performers of the most popular radio program of the time earned "more than the President of the United States" (Gerdes 162).

Americans also turned to the movies for escapist entertainment. The introduction of sound technology helped make the movies even more inviting. Many of the movies being made at the time were tough gangster films, musicals, biographies, and child star vehicles. "Shirley Temple’s popularity soon surpassed that of Greta Garbo and other female luminaries of the decade. Her seven years and twenty-three films at Fox established Shirley Temple as the indisputable child star of motion pictures, a reputation which has yet to be seriously challenged" (Gerdes 286). To avoid failure, the studios narrowed their pictures to the type that the public would go and see. Since they were going to the movies to escape their reality, if just for a short period of time, they wanted to see lavish, star-oriented films that took them out of the normal into a totally different world.

I believe that there were many contributing factors for the popularity of the novel. Since the hard times felt by America during the great depression resembled what the South went through during Reconstruction, it is possible that many people turned to Margaret Mitchell’s book to see if there was a light at the end of the tunnel. After all, if the country went through something similar before and survived, then it could do it again. Another reason for the popularity of the novel might be the fact that it contained a strong female protagonist. During a time when many families were separated due to financial hardships and women were taking on new, unfamiliar roles, many of them could relate to Scarlett because of the added responsibilities placed on them. She was a role model, so to speak. She not only entered a male-dominated world, but she did it successfully. If she could succeed in a world dominated by men, then so could any woman.

Unfortunately, most people were probably drawn to the novel because it was massively promoted. "By advance word, bookstores and libraries tried to place frantic orders to fill requests of the book." "It was chosen Book of the Month for July of 1936." "The first printing sold ten thousand copies and one hundred thousand copies were shipped around the country" (Bridges 6). The Southern propaganda system wished to promote this particular message. Racists and the South at that time had been falsifying history since the end of the Civil War. Because they did not win the war physically, they decided to win the war through other means. This included rewriting history to benefit the Southerners and their way of living. This book was a boon for them, considering how sympathetic it was toward their cause. Racism is apparent on virtually every page. It was definitely written from a Confederate point of view.

The making of the novel into a movie was icing on the cake. It became The Birth of a Nation of its time. The studio spared no expense to promote this movie. The outpouring of people was tremendous. "Letters poured into the studio from every quarter. Housewives, ladies clubs, newspaper columnists, radio commentators, magazine writers and moviegoers at large deluged Selznick with fervent casting requests" (Bridges 16). Millions showed up at Atlanta for the premiere. The movie went on to win 10 Academy awards. Groups such as the NAACP protested the movie because of its portrayal of the black characters. Selznick was "in frequent communication with Mr. Walter White, of the Society for the Advancement of Colored People, and have accepted his suggestions concerning the elimination of the word ‘nigger’ from our picture. We have, moreover, gone further than this and have portrayed important Negro characters as lovable, faithful, high-typed people – so picturized that they can leave no impression but a very nice one" (Harmetz 144).

Gone with the Wind became a blockbuster hit the year it premiered. It is considered to be one of the best all-time films, achieving legendary status. The movie retained many of the incidents and much of the tone of the novel, even seeming to be just as long to watch as it was to read.


Chapter Three – Gone with the Wind

Gone With the Wind is a historical fiction novel with vivid descriptions of the Old South, the Civil War and the Reconstruction period. It is ultimately the story of one person, Scarlett O’Hara. It is through her perspective that the reader is told not only her story, but also the story of the South. As the protagonist of this novel, Scarlett O’Hara is a headstrong, stubborn, spoiled Southern Belle. She grows up in the magnificent old South on the family plantation, Tara, and their scores of Negro slaves are lovable and happy. Scarlett is the belle of the county and that is all that matters to her. In fact, she is not happy until all the gentlemen like her, and if she had to steal a beau from her own sister, so be it. Unfortunately, her reign is cut short when war breaks out. Scarlett then declares to her neighbor, Ashley Wilkes her love for him. He does not return her affections, and they have a disagreement. All this is overheard by the visiting outcast, Rhett Butler. Out of a misguided attempt to upset Ashley, Scarlett marries Charles Hamilton on the rebound. Sadly for her but fortunately for Ashley, he marries Charles’ sister, the sweet and loveable Melanie.

All the men go off to war because they are fiercely loyal to the South. The women stay at home and tend to the daily running of the plantations. Scarlett, at the tender age of sixteen, becomes both a mother and a widow. Charles has died of pneumonia, following an attack of measles in a war training camp before reaching any battlefront. She is upset about being a widow because she feels her life is over. She does not feel any grief over Charles’s death. She then takes the baby to visit Charles’s family, Melanie and Aunt Pittypat, in Atlanta where they live. Even though Scarlett loathes both ladies, she grows to love Atlanta for the social life it affords her. Here she can almost forget that she is a widow. Because the city is the center for the railroad, there is much hustle and bustle going on. Troops of men constantly come and go, which lead to many social events for the ladies.

Through all of this is talk of the war. Even though the city goes on as if nothing has happened, the fighting continues. Scarlett even remarks that the war gets in the way. She keeps in touch with her family at Tara, and continues to have a grand time in Atlanta. In fact, Rhett Butler is there to encourage her in outraging society. He loses no time in pointing out the futility of the Confederate cause every chance he gets. The fact that she does not love Charles Hamilton and must mourn him for years is quite inconvenient for Scarlett. This only makes it easier for Rhett to feed her vanity. Predictably, the war comes to Atlanta, and it becomes impossible for them to stay. Food is almost nonexistent and the fear of the city being overrun by the Yankees is constant. Yet, it is too dangerous for them to leave because Melanie is pregnant. She goes into labor during the worst battle of Atlanta, and Scarlett must deal with it.

Knowing that they will not be safe in the city, Scarlett begs Rhett to get them away to Tara. Considering that the fighting is taking place in the area between Atlanta and Tara, he thinks it is a suicidal mission. Scarlett does not care; she needs to get home to her mother. He leaves them on the road to go join the Confederate army, knowing that it is a lost cause. The small group still has to deal with the dangers of meeting up with the Yankee army. The women press on and make it to Tara. There, Scarlett learns that everyone is looking to her to be the leader. Her mother has died from the fever, her father has lost his mind and the few servants who stayed expect her to take charge. The once great plantation has been stripped bare; everything of value taken by the Yankees and the departing slaves. In an instant, Scarlett uses what becomes her trademark. Whenever she is faced with her conscience, is not sure how to handle a situation, or must deal with something painful, she says, "I will think about it tomorrow. Tomorrow is another day."

This is where they spend the last days of the war, and the days after, trying to eke out a small living, growing food to support them and growing cotton to sell for tax money. Now that the war has ended, the Yankee carpetbaggers have taken over the government, along with the freed blacks, to wreak havoc on the defeated South. This is brought home to Scarlett when their former overseer raises the taxes on Tara in order to force the family out so he can buy it. In desperation, Scarlett turns to Rhett Butler for the money, but he is in jail and cannot help. Because there is no way in hell that she is going to let that "white trash" have Tara, she starts on her road to do whatever it takes by stealing and marrying her sister’s beau, Frank Kennedy in order to secure the tax money.

Scarlett manages to save Tara, but she does not want to be put in that position again. The importance of owning the property never left her. It was where she can go whenever she needs to gain strength. Despite the disapproval of her husband, she borrows money from the newly released Rhett and buys a lumber mill. Determined to never suffer again the deprivations felt during the war, she violates all conventions of Southern womanhood by unethical business practices, fighting, and drinking with the Yankee overlords. Yet no matter what Scarlett does, Melanie supports her. Even if it means her own alienation from society, she fiercely stands by Scarlett. In order to keep Ashley close by, Scarlett enlists Melanie’s help to convince him to stay in Atlanta and become her overseer. She must drive by a shantytown to reach the mill, and as a woman it is dangerous for Scarlett to drive alone. Rhett accompanies her on her rounds, but he is not always there. Because she refuses to stop going to check on her mill, she runs into trouble. Only with the help of a former slave does she escape from being attacked. The men, including Ashley and Frank, must ride to avenge her honor. This is because, according to Mitchell, the Yankee government encourages the freed blacks to such actions, and then does not punish them. The men are almost caught in a trap and Frank is fatally shot. Once again, Scarlett is widowed.

Finally Rhett decides that he has waited long enough for her and he proposes marriage. They marry after Scarlett spends a year of mourning for Frank. Rhett showers her with whatever she wants. This does not make her happy because she thinks that she is still in love with Ashley, and without being able to express her love openly, she cannot be truly happy. Life would have continued on in this same vein with the exception of two things. The first is the death of Bonnie, Rhett and Scarlett’s child. The pair is already estranged when this happens. The child’s death ends the pretense as each goes their own way. The second event is the death of Melanie. Scarlett realizes that she does not love Ashley after all. It is Rhett whom she loves. By that time it is too late for Rhett. His love died with Bonnie and he has none left to give to Scarlett. The final scene is Scarlett preparing to go to Tara, because after all, tomorrow is another day.

The message of this novel is appalling. The author presents it very subtly and does a good job. She truly wanted the readers to believe that the whites of the South were the innocent victims of the horrendous actions of the North. All the plantation owners were wonderful masters, treating their slaves with kindness and generosity. This is proven by the loyalty shown by the few slaves who stay with the family, through the war and after it. Then we see Reconstruction through the eyes of the Southerners. They are treated like dirt. The Southern white men are not allowed to vote, and must stand by helplessly while their states are taken over by Northerners and former slaves. Not only that, but they are overtaxed and can barely scrape together enough just to survive. Because they keep their pride and dignity, however, they manage to rise above the squalor they are forced to live in.

But the one thing that the men cannot sit back and take however is the outrageous treatment of their women by the freed black slaves. The Yankee government allows the blacks to laze about and not work. Idle hands are the devil’s workshop, and since white women are so desirable and irresistible, the black men cannot help themselves. Thus, the Ku Klux Klan is born. Of course, it is only to protect white women’s honor, and to help those who have been taken advantage of by the carpetbaggers and scalawags. This justifies their "lawless reign of terror" in which "blacks were whipped, beaten, shot, and killed" (Ingalls 12). Their actions made it seems like they were less concerned with upholding the criminal code than with enforcing white supremacy. But since Ashley was a part of this "noble" group, it must be okay.

All the characters shut their eyes to what really is going on. Although it is only Scarlett that continuously says, "I won’t think about it now. I’ll think about it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day." By tomorrow, she has forgotten the unpleasantness. I feel that the author was showing how Southerners were able to ignore the inherent evils of their system. They didn’t think about the bad parts, just the good parts. This was obvious from her own background. She did not know the South lost the Civil War until she was ten. She grew up on stories of the great Southern generals and their winning battles. By writing this novel, Margaret Mitchell was paying tribute to the men and women of the South, who never surrendered. Instead of taking responsibility for their actions and admitting that they were in the wrong, the Southern people instead turned a blind eye just like Scarlett in dealing with unpleasant situations.

Through it all, the characters all remain the same. Even though several years unfold in the novel, it doesn’t seem like there is any maturity. Scarlett stays headstrong and stubborn, as well as very selfish. All that she does is for her benefit. If others profit, great; if not, oh well. Yet through it all she is not inherently evil. She shows grudging respect for Melanie several times. Much of her behavior reminded me of a child. Very simply, she acted as she thought she needed in order to survive. Because she did not have an authority figure as well as checks and balances, she did not behave according to society’s rules. She turns to Ashley to be that authority figure, but he is not able to be one for her. When she marries Rhett, he indulges her every whim. She, just like a child, needs boundaries, and because she was not getting them, runs wild. Just like a child, she gives respect to those who earn it, as Melanie does. Her so-called love for Ashley is a child’s love. He is something denied her, so that makes her want it more.

It is the same with the other characters. Ashley does not learn how to survive on his own in the new emerging South. He relies on both Scarlett and Melanie to keep him going. He realizes this, but does nothing to change it. He cannot even stand up to Scarlett and tell her that it is Melanie who he truly loves. He, simply put, just lusts after Scarlett’s body. Because he is the honorable gentleman, he does nothing about it. Melanie stays the same, only seeing the good in everyone, the only exception being the Yankees. This is particularly brought home with her blind devotion to Scarlett. Even when she is told of Ashley and Scarlett’s supposed betrayal by India, her sister-in-law, Melanie remains on Scarlett’s side, ostracizing her sister-in-law. But because she makes mature, adult decisions, this is considered a good thing, especially for Scarlett. Even Rhett does not grow in the course of the novel. He waltzes through life without a care, especially concerning society. He relishes making fun of all society’s rules, and any time he can make the authority figures look like fools, he does. The only time that he does care is when he realizes that his actions may hinder his daughter. But when she dies, he goes back to his devil may care attitude.

Each character fits a stereotype. The author did this to better make her point about the lost glories. The slaves were all faithful and loyal. Scarlett’s example is what happens when people in the South compromised the old ways and the gender boundaries. They may succeed monetarily, but that is all they have. At the end, Scarlett is left all alone, having no friends or family that would claim her. Melanie is the essence of all genteel Southern women. She is everything good and kind, with a spine of steel especially when it comes to keeping up the old ways and traditions. She makes it okay to be poor. She is a true lady while Scarlett’s natural impulses are unladylike.

"The Cult of the Lost Cause reworked the war to Southern advantage. ‘They may have won,’ the defeated South avowed, ‘but we remained gentlemen’" (Clinton 19). Ashley is the epitome of a Southern gentleman. He is chivalrous, honorable and dignified. Rhett is the typical Southern rogue, the one all the ladies are warned away from, but find fascinating. He is the reason why there are all those rules to follow. He is not a gentleman. By using such stock characters, and playing them off of one another, Margaret Mitchell was able to focus on depicting the Old South as she imagined it.

In the course of transcribing novels into films, it is inevitable that not everything is transferable. It seems that as long as the major elements are retained, then the transfer is considered successful. The transfer of the novel, Gone with the Wind to movie form was successful in the sense that it retained many of the incidents and much of the tone of the novel. In fact, the opening credits seemed to say it all. "There was a land of Cavaliers and cotton fields called the Old South. Here in this pretty world Gallantry took its last bow. Here was the last ever to be seen of knights and their ladies Fair, of Master and of Slave. Look for it only in books, for it is no more than a dream remembered. A civilization gone with the wind." Margaret Mitchell could not have said it better.

There are some noticeable differences between the novel and film. I feel that the film was considerably watered down from the novel. The film focused on the romance between Rhett and Scarlett. The controversial issues were there, but were not presented as strong as in the novel. By changing the focus, the whole message is changed. There are various reasons for the change, but the major reason would have to be monetary. The director wanted to appeal to every market in order to make the most money from the film, therefore the transfer needed to be watered down.

Some situations were completely changed to avoid potentially explosive situations, an example being the KKK activities. There was considerably more mentioned about it in the novel. Many of the characters and situations that helped to move the plot along were cut out. An example of this is Scarlett’s carpetbagger friends and the parties she threw for them during her marriage to Rhett. In fact, the whole Reconstruction period is not as expanded on in the film as it is in the novel. By cutting out the inflammatory parts of the novel, the movie becomes just another generic love story.

The first difference is Scarlett herself. When we are introduced to her in the novel, we see a strong-willed young lady. She maintains this throughout the ensuing years. When she decides on a course, she sticks to it no matter what. An example is her love for Ashley. Another example is doing what it takes, no matter what the cost from her or the others, in keeping Tara. When they finally make it to Tara after the arduous ride from Atlanta, she is the one who took charge after finding out that her mother was dead and her father was mad. She goes through an inventory list with Pork and moves on from there. She is the one who deals with the Army deserter. When the Yankee raiders are coming, she is the one who takes charge and gives everyone a job to do. Then she calmly faces them and even manages to save her child’s sword for him. This is not even in the movie. The filmgoers do not get to see Scarlett standing up to the Yankees.

She turns to Ashley once, for the tax money and he can offer her nothing but apologies for not being able to handle all the changes. As a "gentleman" he was not raised to deal with such matters. Therefore, Scarlett never turns to Ashley again and she finds a way to get it. She continues on this course for the rest of the novel. When the Old Guard disapproves of how she makes her money, she just ignores them. Even when she marries Rhett, her craving for wealth does not diminish. Her greatest desire is to have enough money so she can insult the Yankees with no fear of reprisals. She scoffs at the others that are getting by with their genteel poverty rather than consort with the Yankees. In fact, it is only through Melanie’s intervention that the Old Guard does not cut off Scarlett entirely. Even at the end, when Rhett walks out on her, she remains strong.

The movie made her pettier and not as strong. She and her sister act like children in the beginning, fighting over who will wear what dress. In fact, she accuses Ashley of leading her to believe that he would marry her. Plus she only has one child, Bonnie, in the movie. In the novel she has three children, one with each husband. Because the movie does not have all of the characters from the novel, a lot of Scarlett’s motivation is lost in the movie. Also, we do not see much of the Old Guard and how Melanie saves her from total disgrace. Because we are not privy to Scarlett’s thoughts in the movie like we are in the novel and because we do not see all of her actions from the novel transferred to the big screen, she comes off as very cold and selfish. At least in the novel, there were somewhat good reasons for what she did.

The second difference is the slaves. In the novel, they all had a prominent role to fill. Each had a sense of dignity and pride. Mammy was in charge of the children, or young ladies, but more than that, she ruled the house, next to Ellen, with an iron fist. Pork was Gerald O’Hara’s manservant, and moved with quiet dignity. Uncle Peter took his role as Aunt Pittypat’s protector very seriously. Dilcey stayed after the war out of a sense of honor, because Gerald O’Hara bought her daughter as well as her, even though he did not have to. None were meant to serve as comic relief. In the movie, this is the role that they are given. They are mere caricatures of how they were in the novel. Yet the producer, David O. Selznick gave directions to his chief writer "to be awfully careful that the Negroes come out decidedly on the right side of the ledger, which I do not think should be difficult" (Kirby 74).

In Mammy’s first scene she is hanging out the window, shouting at Scarlett. In every scene that she is in, her lines are supposed to be funny. In the novel, she is serious. When Scarlett is getting ready to go to Atlanta, Mammy says that she does not think that it is wise for her to go because she "will be sitting there waiting for him just like a spider" (referring to Ashley Wilkes when he came home on leave). Scarlett just tells her to pack her bags. Mammy certainly is not very dignified in the movie. Even after Rhett wins her over and she is wearing the petticoat that he gives her, she just titters and calls him a "bad man." The only time that she is anything like in the novel is when Bonnie dies and we see her grief.

She was the only slave to be given much screen time. Pork, who in the novel plays key role, was given a role of a man who has to ask about everything. He seems much simpler in the movie than in the novel, perhaps because there is more character development in the novel than in the movie. Scarlett wants him to help pick cotton and he refuses. He is not a field hand, but a house servant. The movie does not even give him these lines. His wife, Dilcey whom Gerald bought from Twelve Oaks along with her daughter, Prissy is not even in the movie. The movie doesn’t even allow for that good deed to be brought to light. Prissy remained in the movie, but was a part of the O’Hara household from the beginning. In fact hers was the only role to remain the same. She was the same silly, stupid servant both in the novel and in the book.

But the saddest alteration is Uncle Peter’s. In the novel, he is the protector of Aunt Pittypat. He is the one that they all turn to for advice. He is the one in charge of that household, even though he is a slave. He moves around with dignity. In the movie, he is nothing like he is in the book. We see almost nothing of him, and when we do, he is chasing a rooster around for "a present for the white folks." Another time he is driving the carriage. He is reduced to just a carriage driver. When Melanie and Scarlett emerge from working at the hospital, Belle Watling approaches them. Uncle Peter says, "Go away you trash." This is not keeping in the role the movie has placed him in. Uncle Peter in the novel would not have demeaned himself in that manner. He would not have talked to her at all.

The third major difference between the novel and the film is the treatment of the Ku Klux Klan. In the novel it is referred to several times and talked about sympathetically. The Klan thought nothing of lynching black man simply because they could. Yet, the only reason that Scarlett did not like it was her fear that it might hurt her business with the Yankees. "Let other women be proud that their husbands belonged" (Mitchell 661). Not just that, when Rhett Butler is in jail, it is for murder. He admitted to Scarlett that he did commit it and it was justified because it is a black man who dishonored a white woman. He is even confident that he will go free because of his connections. Frank talks about going to "political" meetings all the time to Scarlett and the other women seemed to fully understand what that means. On the nights that Frank goes to these meetings, Scarlett stays at the Wilkes’ home until he comes to pick her up. Her beloved Ashley is also involved with the meetings as well.

Yet in the movie, Rhett is in jail on trumped up charges simply so the Yankees can get at his money. Nothing is mentioned about what the charges are, whether a murder or not. Also, the only time that Frank goes to a "political" meeting is the night after Scarlett is attacked by Shantytown. Ashley goes as well. Melanie mentions that Scarlett did what she felt she must do and the men are only doing what they feel they must to "protect their women’s honor." India Wilkes accuses Scarlett of placing the men in danger because of her actions. This implies that it was a one-time deal that the men went out at night, to go to their "meeting."

The fact of the matter is the movie downplayed the role of the Klan purposely. The director, Selznick felt that it would be dangerous to include the stalwart Klan and their defense of white womanhood. They were quite adamant about the supremacy of the white race. In the South, especially, it was dangerous for the black population to step out of line, so to speak. There was always the fear of reprisals. After all, in 1937, "African-Americans were still being lynched in the South" (Harmetz 33). If they included pointed references to the Klan, they would alienate the black public, which is something that Selznick did not want to do. But it was important to include this scene, since it is when Frank dies. He felt that they could transfer to the screen the attack that happens after Scarlett’s near rape without calling in the Klan to avenge her. After all, "A group of men can go out to ‘get’ the perpetrators of an attempted rape without having long white sheets over them" (Harmetz 33).

One final difference between the novel and the movie is how the relationship between Scarlett and Rhett grows. In the novel, the reader is shown the growing relationship. When Scarlett is in Atlanta during the war, he comes to Aunt Pittypat’s house all the time and entertains the ladies. Plus, he brings them all gifts. When Scarlett’s father comes from Tara to take Scarlett home, it is Rhett who persuades him not to. After Scarlett is married to Frank Kennedy, it is Rhett who lends Scarlett the money to buy the mill and drives with Scarlett to and from the mill. It is he who warns her about the dangers of making the drive alone. He is the one who tells her that she would never be happy with Ashley. It is Rhett who understands Scarlett because they are alike. He finally marries her, but it is the beginning of the end. A marriage built on power struggles, communication difficulties and personality clashes between two fiercely independent and frustrated individuals can only lead to the inevitable break-up. Perhaps they are too much alike to live peacefully together. However the fact that Scarlett never treats him as if she loves him probably is a major factor. By the time she finally realizes she does love him, it is too late.

The movie does not even give a sense of a developing relationship between these two. In the novel, at least one could somewhat understand what Rhett saw in Scarlett. We saw the relationship develop. Since there is no relationship developing in the movie, it is difficult to understand why Rhett wants Scarlett, beyond the physical sense. In fact he declares that he loves her, several times. In the novel, Rhett does not tell Scarlett that because he thinks it will give her power over him that he does not want her to have. Considering the minimal quality time they are together in the movie, as compared to the novel, it is not easy to see how he falls in love with her. In fact, Rhett offers to take Scarlett away from the war, to Europe, leaving everything behind, including Melanie. He would have never done that in the novel because he truly respects and cares for Mrs. Wilkes, and since she is pregnant and alone except for Scarlett, he would not have offered to take her away.

Both the novel and the book end in the same manner, Scarlett planning on returning to Tara to gain strength. This is where she always goes when her problems are too much for her to bear. Tara is her haven. She finally understands what her father meant about the land being the only constant. She does whatever she can to hold on to it, and she is able to look to it for comfort. It is the only thing she has left.

Chapter Four – Purpose of the Novel

I believe that the novel is trying to convey four distinct points to the reading audience. Much has been said about taking both the novel and the period in which it was written into consideration, but bearing in mind the popularity of the novel in these modern times, it is important to take a look at these points. The four points are the glory of the Old South, the slavery issue, the evils of Reconstruction, and the necessity of the Ku Klux Klan. As I cannot examine all four points in this essay, I will be focusing on just the second point, the slavery issue. By using examples from the novel, I will show how the author supported each point, and then show what really happened historically.

The novel is trying to make slavery acceptable, implying that it is unavoidable when talking about the antebellum South. Much of the success of the plantations and farms depended on a large labor force. Because cheap labor meant more profit for the owners, slaves were brought in. The main point the author is trying to get across in Gone with the Wind is that slavery was an ideal social structure whose passing is to be lamented. After all, the slaves were treated well, given food, clothing and shelter. Not only that but many were treated like members of the family with only few minor differences. An example of this in the novel is Mammy. She is second in command, under Ellen. She also wields great power with the girls and how they are being brought up. She is the one that scolds them and makes them conform to what she says they should be doing as proper young misses. "Suellen and Carreen were clay in her powerful hands and harkened respectfully to her warning" (Mitchell, p. 77). Though Mammy is a strong character, she needs her white masters. She cannot manage Tara after the war without the guidance of Ellen. When Scarlett manages to come home, instead of having Ellen and Mammy to lean on, she finds Mammy expecting to lean on her.

"With unerring African instinct, the Negroes had all discovered that Gerald has a loud bark and no bite at all, and they took shameless advantage of him. The air was always thick with threats of selling slaves south and of direful whippings, but there never had been a slave sold from Tara and only one whipping" (Mitchell, p. 51). In fact when Gerald’s manservant Pork gets married to a slave from a neighboring plantation, he buys her and her daughter in order to make Pork happy. He does not have to do that. Pork could have made the weekly trip to see his new wife. But Gerald wants to please Pork.

One of the examples in the novel that convincingly show this family feeling among the white masters and their slaves is when Scarlett goes to stay in Atlanta with Melanie and Aunt Pittypat, and she is introduced to Uncle Peter, Aunt Pittypat’s manservant. "He is the smartest old darky I’ve ever seen and about the most devoted. The only trouble with him is that he owns the three of us, body and soul, and he knows it" (Mitchell 144). Regardless of the fact that Uncle Peter is a black slave, he is the one who "tells" Aunt Pittypat what to do all the time. With no questions asked, or even a look of astonishment at the audacity of his forward behavior, she does what he says. He also supervises the raising of both Charles and Melanie and is planning on the same for Charles’ only son. Uncle Peter treated is like he is their real uncle.

It is easy to see how readers could get taken in by Margaret Mitchell’s subtle message that this, meaning slavery, is a system worth mourning. After all, each slave seemed to be a part of the family and was treated accordingly. It is no accident that these examples are of house servants. Because the masters often had little contact with the field hands, it is almost always the house servant who is portrayed as the epitome of loyalty. Often the master and slave lived and worked together on such intimate terms that they developed affection for each other. "On plantations where they were treated humanely, the slaves sometimes looked upon their master almost as a kindly father" (Blassingame 193). One former slave described his master as "more like a father to his slaves that anything else" (Blassingame 193). Generally the master’s kindness, confidence and trust were repaid by faithful work on the part of the slave.

But lest these warm and fuzzy feelings overtake us about the one big happy family that the South was, there is another point to consider. If the whites treated the blacks like family, why then did they need to be slaves? Families do not sell, beat or rape other family members. Families do not keep their "loved" ones in ignorance. The truth of the matter is most of the white population, both North and South, considered blacks to be inferior and simple, needing direction in all matters. "How stupid Negroes were! They never thought of anything unless they were told. And the Yankees wanted to free them" (Mitchell 409). This type of thinking is evident in the novel. This is even included with Ellen’s training for her girls. Scarlett constantly remembers her mother’s sayings, especially in regards to the treatment of the blacks. "Always remember, dear," Ellen had said, "you are responsible for the moral as well as the physical welfare of the darkies God has entrusted to your care. You must realize that they are like children and must be guarded from themselves like children, and you must always set them a good example" (Mitchell 472-473).

Also the notion that whites are superior to blacks. "Be firm but be gentle with inferiors, especially darkies" (Mitchell 432). This is shown over and over, that the blacks are just like little children who must be told what to do every step of the way. When Scarlett is in Atlanta before it falls, she comes across field hands from Tara who have been commandeered to dig trenches. She speaks to them like children. "Be good and do what Captain Randall tells you" (Mitchell 308). When she meets up with one of them after the war, he is so happy to see her, "his whole body and his joyful contortions were as ludicrous as the gamboling of a mastiff" (Mitchell, p. 779). When Scarlett agrees to send him back to Tara, "his face glowed with relief at once more having someone to tell him what to do" (Mitchell 783).

Because it made it easier on the conscience of the slaveholder, they believed that "Africans were ignoble savages who were innately barbaric, imitative, passive, cheerful, immoral, and stupid. They were endowed with a will so weak, passions so easily subdued, and dispositions so gentle and affectionate that they had an instinctive feeling of obedience to the stronger will of the white man" (Blassingame 136). Reading this, it would seem that the black race was handpicked to be the servants of the white race. "Without the productive power of the African whom an ‘all-wise Creator’ had perfectly adapted to the labor needs of the South, its lands would have remained ‘a howling wilderness’" (Stampp 7). These God-fearing men managed to make the practice of owning slaves a religious right as well. They believed that "slavery is of God" (Sagan 365). "God intended them for their misery. The Holy Bible, as countless passages confirmed, condoned slavery" (Sagan 355). So, not only is slavery condoned by their religion, but by nature as well.

The truth of the matter is, no matter how good and kind the master was, the black people were slaves. They were considered property and as such, could be bought, sold, used and abused, and treated like chattel, not people. The slaves were not free. They had no legal rights, because they were not a person under the law. Their "owners" had complete control of their lives. They were not free to go anywhere or do anything without their master’s approval. The master had the right to separate husband and wife, parents and children. It was very rare that an entire slave family would remain intact. There was always the fear of being sold. Because of death or bankruptcy, families were separated and sold to fulfill wills or debts. Often, the masters would sell a slave as punishment. It was not unusual for a slave to have had more than one owner. After all, the slaves were considered property, and as such their feelings and emotions did not mean a thing.

The women had it worse. If a white man desired her, he could take her, regardless of how she felt about it. In fact, if she resisted, he could beat her for disobedience. They were never free to accept or deny the attentions being shown them. "There were no safeguards to protect them from being sexually stalked, harassed or raped, or to be used as long-term concubines by masters and overseers"(Africans in America). Not only were they abused by the white men, but usually by their mistresses as well. She would be jealous of the attention paid to the slave, yet because of their society’s rules, the mistress was required to look the other way. The majority of the time, her anger and humiliation were taken out on the slave. "For this reason, a Texas judge was sympathetic when a master conveyed his slave mistress and two mulatto children to a relative, in order to separate them from his ‘infuriated wife, who would possibly, yea, probably, inflict severity, cruelty and hardship on them’" (Stampp 360).

The master had the right to administer whatever punishment he felt was necessary, even if it meant death in some cases. "The whip was used very frequently and freely, and a small offence on the part of a slave furnished an occasion for its use" (Blassingame 162). This type of punishment was used on men, women and children. Even the most humane masters thought little of the brutality of flogging. "Many slaves reported that they were flogged severely, had iron weights with bells on them placed on their necks, or were shackled" (Blassingame 162). Margaret Mitchell said, "All the events in the book had their basis in fact." She "had to water down the more horrible ones (facts). They were too strong to be swallowed" (Bridges 7). Perhaps she was referring to the discipline and punishments that the slaves experienced. Nothing except vague threats was mentioned in the novel, and the only form of physical punishment that is shown is when Scarlett slaps Prissy after she finds out that Prissy lied about her midwife skills.

There are many accounts from former slaves that attest to the brutality of their masters towards them. His mistress beat Lewis Clarke as a child. "(My mistress’s) instruments of torture were ordinarily the raw hide or a bunch of hickory – sprouts seasoned in the fire and tied together. But if these were not at hand, nothing came amiss. She could relish a beating with a chair, the broom, tongs, shovel, shears, knife-handle, the heavy heel of her slipper, or a bunch of keys; her zeal was so active in these barbarous inflictions, and her invention was wonderfully quick" (Mintz). Another example is of Moses Roper. He was born into slavery and tried several times to run away. He was caught and punished. "He (the owner) took me up to the log-house, stripped me quite naked, fastened a rail up very high, tied my hands to the rail, fastened my feet together, put a rail between my feet and stood at the end of it to hold me down. The two sons then gave me fifty lashes, the son-in-law another fifty and Mr. Gooch himself fifty more. (Another time) He put the fingers of my hands into a vice and squeezed all the nails off. He then had my feet put on an anvil and ordered a man to beat my toes, till he smashed my nails off" (Minz). The public and private records that remain suggest that acts such as these were not as "exceptional" as proslavery writers claimed (Stampp 181).

The master had the right to lodge them as cheaply as possible. "They lived in crudely built one-room log cabins with dirt floors and too many cracks in them to permit much comfort during the winter months. The wind and rain would come in and the smoke would not go out" (Blassingame 159). The cabins were often crowded as well as poorly built. Usually two families shared a cabin, consisting of six to ten people in one cabin. The slaves were also dependent on the master for food. But the ration of food sufficient for one man is not necessarily enough for another man. "Most of the black autobiographers complained that they had at least one owner who did not give them enough food" (Blassingame 158-159). Some were allowed to supplement their rations with a small garden of their own. They also fished and hunted whenever possible. Most slaves resorted to thievery to get enough food just for daily sustenance.

The owners also had the right to work their slaves in whatever way they wanted. Americans today complain if they have to work longer than the accepted workday. Then if they do, they want overtime pay. The unions would have a fit if any employer tried to get what was considered a slave’s workday out of the current workforce. "Most field hands rose before dawn, prepared their meals, fed the livestock, and then rushed to the fields before sunrise. Failure to reach the field on time often brought the overseer’s lash into play. Depending upon the season or the crop, the laborer would grub and hoe the field, pick worms off the plants, build fences, cut down trees, construct dikes, pull fodder, clear new land, plant rice, sugar, tobacco, cotton, and corn, and then harvest the crop. Frequently, after working from dawn to sunset, the weary slaves then had to care for the livestock, put away tools, and cook their meals before the horn sounded bedtime in the quarters" (Blassingame 155). Not only were they expected to complete all of this work in one day, they had an overseer to make sure that they did it without slacking. "It is this unrelenting, brutalizing, drive, drive, watch and whip" (Stampp 181). It is no wonder that so many would rather die trying to escape than to continue to lead such a degrading life.

No matter how easy the slaves were shown to have life in the novel, it was not real life. There are too many accounts from slaves themselves of abuse. Also, no matter how well they were treated, they were not free. To have that knowledge that at any time, for any reason, they could be punished, abused, overworked, sold, torn away from loved ones. "It is a great heaviness on a person’s mind to be a slave" (Stampp 382).

Chapter Five – Conclusion

Slavery and its aftermath is a horrible legacy for America to have. To see it romantized in Gone with the Wind is unconscionable. The truth is a small number of people grew rich through the sufferings and backbreaking work of a large group of people. Then to compound this horrible deed, they continued to make them suffer even after a war was fought and they were freed. All in the name of the Cause.

When the novel Scarlett came out in 1991, Gone with the Wind was re-released at the same time and "once again topped the best-seller lists" (Carnes 132). It is a testament to how far race relations in this country have come that a novel that is a declaration for white supremacy is a best seller. Most people would argue that it is the romance of Scarlett and Rhett that has held everyone’s fascination for so long. Also, the grit and fortitude that it took to beat the odds, as Scarlett did, is a tribute of human determination.

However, one cannot isolate these two points from the novel without seeing the rest. It is a racist piece of propaganda, done in a very subtle way. The author managed to get her agenda accomplished and continues to influence our thinking to this very day. Gone with the Wind has been touted as being historically accurate. Perhaps in the minds of Southerners it is accurate, but historically it is not.

After reading the novel and doing just a little bit of research, I found that it was not accurate. It goes along with the teachings of "planter paternalism, asserting that slavery was a benign institution – benevolent slave owners created a ‘plantation school’ to educate backward blacks to the virtues of discipline and productivity" (Clinton 21). I hope that I was able to show where the novel was incorrect historically. Anyone who believes that Gone with the Wind is just a harmless piece of literature obviously does not understand its message. Perhaps they can think on it tomorrow. After all, tomorrow is another day.



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Student Papers


Interdisciplinary Studies Program  Wayne State  University