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Jill_Marie
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GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

Welcome to the discussion of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell! This is the first time I've moderated a book discussion, so please be patient! I will be traveling from Georgia to California over the next couple weeks, so if I happen to fall behind because of that please excuse me. Other than that, let the discussion begin!!

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -Upton Sinclair
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Jill_Marie
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

One thing I noticed right away is the large presence of strong women in the novel: Mrs. O'Hara, Mrs. Tarleton, Scarlett, Mammy, etc. The Tarleton boys were afraid of their mother's discipline, as was Gerald of his wife. Along with this, I thought it was interesting that the O'Hara's had three daughters and that their three sons all died in infancy. Once again, the girls were stronger in this case. Did anyone else notice this?

"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it." -Upton Sinclair
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Fozzie
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

Can't wait to get started!  My book should arrive tomorrow, so I'll comment later in the week.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Mountain_Muse
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


Jill_Marie wrote:

Welcome to the discussion of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell! This is the first time I've moderated a book discussion, so please be patient! I will be traveling from Georgia to California over the next couple weeks, so if I happen to fall behind because of that please excuse me. Other than that, let the discussion begin!!



Look forward to reading with you during the next two months.  I will crack my copy tonight and hope to be able to post tomorrow.

Mtn Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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Fozzie
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

The last page of my book is "About the Author."  When asked what Gone With the Wind was about, the author said, "If the novel has a theme it is that of survival.  What makes some people come through catastrophes and others, apparently just as able, strong and brave go under?  It happens in every upheaval.  Some people survive; others don't.  What qualities are in those who fight their way through triumphantly that are lacking in those that go under?  I only know that survivors used to call that quality 'gumption.'  So I wrote about people who had gumption and people who didn't."  (1936)

 

After reading this, I expect to see characters in contrast to one another.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Mountain_Muse
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


Mountain_Muse wrote:

Jill_Marie wrote:

Welcome to the discussion of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell! This is the first time I've moderated a book discussion, so please be patient! I will be traveling from Georgia to California over the next couple weeks, so if I happen to fall behind because of that please excuse me. Other than that, let the discussion begin!!



Look forward to reading with you during the next two months.  I will crack my copy tonight and hope to be able to post tomorrow.

Mtn Muse


Whew....my 90 guests --- out the door this morning.... now I can seriously crack the books :smileyvery-happy:.  I am chomping.

 

Mtn Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

Jill,
I am going to spread out your questions so they are easier to address and then answer in between, if you don't mind.
Jill_Marie wrote:

One thing I noticed right away is the large presence of strong women in the novel:

What was the dominating strength in each of these women, and how did it affect their families in these first chapters?

Mrs. O'Hara?

Mrs. Tarleton?

Scarlett,?

Mammy?

Was there any one else?

The literal female strength of "survival of the fittest" as demonstrated in the O'Hara's had three daughters and that their three sons all died in infancy. The three girls were stronger in this case and survived. Did anyone else notice this?  How did this affect the family dynamics, or did it?


My comments:

This novel is definitely a feminist novel and a novel on women of the south.  It has been many years since I have read it and so it is almost like reading it "anew".

Yes, there are a lot of strong women in the novel.  But there are a lot of strong women in history.  Strong women tend to be married to strong men and have strong children.  I have always said, and I know I was not the originator of this thought, that a man is only as strong as the women who stand behind them.

I was brought up to believe that a woman does not have to dominate to be strong, nor does she have to dominate to bring strength to a marriage or relationship.  But, it takes a strong woman to survive in a marriage where the man is strong and domineering.  (Rabbit trail we won't go down.)

Mrs O'Hara - Ellen was the strength of her family.  She was the antithesis of her happy go-lucky brilliant behind his bluster husband.  But their marriage was a companionship not and partnership, ot a love affair, even after all the years.

Scarlett - Rich, spoiled, strong-willed, too smart for her britches, willful, always wants what isn't hers and she can't have....don't like the kid...just like my sister was when she was growing up...without the rich part.  

Mammy - like the lady....she would get Miss Scarlett in line if she had been given free reign....but she was "below the salt"

I think that Margaret has set the book up in these first few chapters to be a "woman's" book from a woman's view point, with some female domination from all point.....I may be wrong....we'll see.... I told you it has been 30 plus years since I read the book.

Mtn Muse 

 

 

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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willowy
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006

Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

The first seven chapters really showed what life and society was like in the pre-Civil War South. What stood out for me were the different social orders of that time, even among the slaves. The wealthy looked down on the poorer "white trash" as they called them, and the more established families looked down on the ones who were "new money" or were self made men.

 Among the slaves there is a social order as well. The domestic slaves look down on the field hands, and the slaves owned by more prosperous plantations owners look down on those owned by the families who can only afford a few slaves.

These chapters also gave a glimpse into the set roles of women and men of this time. Even though the women run and manage the household, the man takes credit for it. These women were praised for being seen and not heard and for being meek and these were the qualities that men looked for in their potential wives.

 It was interesting to see that Scarlett herself found it silly to have to appear weak, have fainting spells, and not speak your mind all to attract a man.

-----------Willowy----------
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Earth72
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

The first few chapters of GWTW were interesting. This is my first time reading the story and have never seen the movie. The descriptions brought back images of old family stories and photographs; however, I don’t have a personal connection with the culture at this point in the book. Maybe that is the point, Scarlett has not found her place in the world so the reader cannot find his or her place either.

 

I might be the minority, but I like Scarlett. I think that she is incredibly intelligent with a lot of potential. Every trait that Scarlett possesses, however, is quelled by her culture. I think that this causes Scarlett to lash out because of her frustration and—possibly—viewed attacks on her individuality. I feel that Scarlett’s lashing out comes in the form of “making her dimples deeper”, being the belle, and showing off her beauty. She is mockingly becoming the most popular girl by purposely thinking about what is expected of women, poising herself better than any other girl, and still maintaining her self-independence. By these standards, she should have won the man that she had chosen; thereby, doing her job as a woman marrying into the same or higher class. She is so young that she just doesn’t understand the breadth of cultural and societal expectations that she is fighting against.

 

As a side note, I feel that Scarlett may be a reflection of America at that time—young, arrogant, and trying to find structure.

 

As for the men in these chapters, I find that they are just as young and naïve as Scarlett. The men are singling out those to be part of the army and spouting the Yankees will be defeated in a couple of months (or something like that). It is more as if they are making a gentleman’s club than fighting for the rights of the southern states. 

"He's the idealist, he's the dreamer of a beautiful dream, and even if the dream doesn't come true, it's rather thrilling to have dreamt it" - W. Somerset Maugham
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Mountain_Muse
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


willowy wrote:

The first seven chapters really showed what life and society was like in the pre-Civil War South. What stood out for me were the different social orders of that time, even among the slaves. The wealthy looked down on the poorer "white trash" as they called them, and the more established families looked down on the ones who were "new money" or were self made men.

 Among the slaves there is a social order as well. The domestic slaves look down on the field hands, and the slaves owned by more prosperous plantations owners look down on those owned by the families who can only afford a few slaves.

These chapters also gave a glimpse into the set roles of women and men of this time. Even though the women run and manage the household, the man takes credit for it. These women were praised for being seen and not heard and for being meek and these were the qualities that men looked for in their potential wives.

 It was interesting to see that Scarlett herself found it silly to have to appear weak, have fainting spells, and not speak your mind all to attract a man.


Willowy,

 

I think you have done an excellent job of discussing the social implications of the first chapters in this book.  What is interesting to me is that these people came to America to escape the "classes" and in turn created their own "class" system that, in many ways, was more stringent and stilted than that of the aristocracy of Europe.   What do you think?

You know, it wasn't that long ago that women had to play themselves down in the south (in some areas this still happens).  Male domination.....grrrrrr.   The only ones that seem to take life seriously and wished to seek education and art to broaden their horizons were looked down on by the rest of the peers.  Isn't that just a little backwards?

 

Mtn Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


Earth72 wrote:

The first few chapters of GWTW were interesting. This is my first time reading the story and have never seen the movie. The descriptions brought back images of old family stories and photographs; however, I don’t have a personal connection with the culture at this point in the book. Maybe that is the point, Scarlett has not found her place in the world so the reader cannot find his or her place either.

 

I might be the minority, but I like Scarlett. I think that she is incredibly intelligent with a lot of potential. Every trait that Scarlett possesses, however, is quelled by her culture. I think that this causes Scarlett to lash out because of her frustration and—possibly—viewed attacks on her individuality. I feel that Scarlett’s lashing out comes in the form of “making her dimples deeper”, being the belle, and showing off her beauty. She is mockingly becoming the most popular girl by purposely thinking about what is expected of women, poising herself better than any other girl, and still maintaining her self-independence. By these standards, she should have won the man that she had chosen; thereby, doing her job as a woman marrying into the same or higher class. She is so young that she just doesn’t understand the breadth of cultural and societal expectations that she is fighting against.

 

As a side note, I feel that Scarlett may be a reflection of America at that time—young, arrogant, and trying to find structure.

 

As for the men in these chapters, I find that they are just as young and naïve as Scarlett. The men are singling out those to be part of the army and spouting the Yankees will be defeated in a couple of months (or something like that). It is more as if they are making a gentleman’s club than fighting for the rights of the southern states. 


Earth72,

 

I have never quite looked at Scarlett in this light....I'll have to go back and re-think her a little.  She has always reminded me of the spoiled get whatever I want, who I want, all the attention person.  Self discipline doesn't seem to be one of her plusses.  But it is great to have an opposing view.  Maybe we can sit on either of Scarlett's shoulders and whisper in her ear for the book...  What kind of person do you think she will be as an adult?  (I never watched the movie,... just the few sceen shots...and it has been 30 years since I read the book, so it is like reading it for the first time for me, too.)

I agree with you about the men.  The WAR is just another game for the new "club" that they are forming.  It is like they are setting up a fox hunt for next week.  No one is thinking about the ramifications or seems to take life more seriously than hunting, bar-b-ques, drinking, and racing horses....not a very mature outlook on life.  What do you think?

 

Mtn Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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Earth72
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

Mtn Muse,

 

“She has always reminded me of the spoiled get whatever I want, who I want, all the attention person.  Self discipline doesn't seem to be one of her plusses.”

 

I know where you are coming from, as the majority of the descriptions of Scarlett seem to show her as a self-centered, arrogant, and immature 16 year old. I think of Scarlett is different for a few reasons. Charles’ reaction at the BBQ when Scarlett flirted with him (p.116) makes me think that this sort of behavior was commonplace for girls at that time, where a girl's job was to be the belle and get a husband. Also, when she realized that her behavior might of actually prevented Ashley from knowing her feelings, she wracked her young brain on how to make him understand. Of course it is different that I would do it but to each her own!:smileyhappy:

 

 I can’t find the excerpt that compared Scarlett to her father to double check the voice, but I think she might actually be more like her mother. By this comment on page 21, “her manners had been imposed upon her by her mother’s gentle admonitions”, I think that her mother may have even realized that Scarlett was a lot like her as a child. Scarlett’s voice talked about her mother (p.58), “As far back as Scarlett could remember her mother had always been the same, voice soft and sweet…”; (p.59) “But Scarlett was wrong…”. Ellen acted similarly to Scarlett on P. 73, “If Ellen regretted her sudden decision to marry him, no one ever knew it…”

Ellen seems to be a very proper woman; however, she does not do only her duty as a wife for her husband (managing the property, etc). Ellen runs about helping the sick with a medical bag. It seems to me, that Ellen wanted to be a nurse and used her skills in etiquette and class standards to mask the ability to have a job outside the household. Ellen even returns late at night, which (I may be wrong) was not usually acceptable for a proper wife. I have the feeling that as she ages, Scarlett will be more like her mother. Just some thoughts, what do you guys think?

"He's the idealist, he's the dreamer of a beautiful dream, and even if the dream doesn't come true, it's rather thrilling to have dreamt it" - W. Somerset Maugham
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willowy
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


Mountain_Muse wrote:

 


 

"What is interesting to me is that these people came to America to escape the "classes" and in turn created their own "class" system that, in many ways, was more stringent and stilted than that of the aristocracy of Europe.   What do you think?"

 

Mtn Muse



That is an interesting point,  I hadn't thought of that! The South at that time certainly did seem to be a society that depended on a social hierarchy and expected it's people to follow it and it's rules to the letter. There are many parts where we see this to be true, like at the barbecue when Rhett shows up and the ladies are shocked because he isn't "received" in polite society, or even when Scarlett is picking a dress and has to consider that one shouldn't have bare arms before a certain time of day (though she goes ahead and does this!) or when she is forced to eat before going to the party because she shouldn't show an unlady like appetite when there....so many things, albeit silly things,  for ladies to worry about!

-----------Willowy----------
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willowy
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


Earth72 wrote:

"I can’t find the excerpt that compared Scarlett to her father to double check the voice, but I think she might actually be more like her mother. By this comment on page 21, “her manners had been imposed upon her by her mother’s gentle admonitions”, I think that her mother may have even realized that Scarlett was a lot like her as a child. Scarlett’s voice talked about her mother (p.58), “As far back as Scarlett could remember her mother had always been the same, voice soft and sweet…”; (p.59) “But Scarlett was wrong…”. Ellen acted similarly to Scarlett on P. 73, “If Ellen regretted her sudden decision to marry him, no one ever knew it…”

Ellen seems to be a very proper woman; however, she does not do only her duty as a wife for her husband (managing the property, etc). Ellen runs about helping the sick with a medical bag. It seems to me, that Ellen wanted to be a nurse and used her skills in etiquette and class standards to mask the ability to have a job outside the household. Ellen even returns late at night, which (I may be wrong) was not usually acceptable for a proper wife. I have the feeling that as she ages, Scarlett will be more like her mother. Just some thoughts, what do you guys think?"




Right now I think I find Scarlett to be a bit more like her father, she's willful and passionate and shares his temper and, we are starting to see, his love of tara ( or love of land as he puts it). I think she would like to be like her mother but her temperament just gets in the way. But I agree, I have a feeling as she matures she will draw more on the side of her that is like Ellen. I keep forgetting as I'm reading the book that she is only 16! She still has a lot of growing up to do

-----------Willowy----------
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Mountain_Muse
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


willowy wrote:

Earth72 wrote:

"I can’t find the excerpt that compared Scarlett to her father to double check the voice, but I think she might actually be more like her mother. By this comment on page 21, “her manners had been imposed upon her by her mother’s gentle admonitions”, I think that her mother may have even realized that Scarlett was a lot like her as a child. Scarlett’s voice talked about her mother (p.58), “As far back as Scarlett could remember her mother had always been the same, voice soft and sweet…”; (p.59) “But Scarlett was wrong…”. Ellen acted similarly to Scarlett on P. 73, “If Ellen regretted her sudden decision to marry him, no one ever knew it…”

Ellen seems to be a very proper woman; however, she does not do only her duty as a wife for her husband (managing the property, etc). Ellen runs about helping the sick with a medical bag. It seems to me, that Ellen wanted to be a nurse and used her skills in etiquette and class standards to mask the ability to have a job outside the household. Ellen even returns late at night, which (I may be wrong) was not usually acceptable for a proper wife. I have the feeling that as she ages, Scarlett will be more like her mother. Just some thoughts, what do you guys think?"




Right now I think I find Scarlett to be a bit more like her father, she's willful and passionate and shares his temper and, we are starting to see, his love of tara ( or love of land as he puts it). I think she would like to be like her mother but her temperament just gets in the way. But I agree, I have a feeling as she matures she will draw more on the side of her that is like Ellen. I keep forgetting as I'm reading the book that she is only 16! She still has a lot of growing up to do


Personally, I don't see much of Ellen in Scarlett, at all.  What you are calling "strength" in Scarlett is just strong willed spoiled selfishness.  I have yet to see her think of others or to demonstrate leadership or to do anything that is not designed to make things better for, draw attention to, or otherwise advance the cause of Scarlett O'Hare.  

There is a definite difference between willfulness and strength of character.  That is my personal opinion, of course.

Mtn Muse

A really good book is much like an artichoke. As you peel back each page of the of the book, you get closer and closer to the succulent heart of the story.
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Camoena
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

I would have to agree with Mtn Muse that Scarlett appears to me to have a lot of "strong-willed spoiled selfishness."  Has anyone ever read The Poisonwood Bible?  Scarlett reminds me so very much of the character Rachel in that novel.  I like Scarlett a little better, but perhaps only because of the context of GWTW.

 

There have been two comments made regarding Scarlett's character which may redeem her a little bit in my opinion:  first, that Scarlett is only sixteen years old, and there have been plenty of selfish, spoiled sixteen-year-old girls (probably even amongst those of us participating in this discussion); and second, that Scarlett is adhering to at least some of what she's been taught -- that is, that it is her duty to make herself attractive to men and thereby attain the best husband possible.

 

Still, even with this in mind, it is pretty awful of her to try to make every man in the County fall in love with her.  It is made apparent on multiple occasions that Scarlett delights in stealing others' beaux, including those of her own sisters.  And this is made even worse when one discovers that the entire time she is enticing every man within her reach, she believes she already has the man she really wants within her grasp.

 

Ellen may be present in Scarlett as a veneer, but underneath that Scarlett is very much Gerald's offspring....if Gerald were a sixteen-year-old girl in love with herself.

'A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.' --Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
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Camoena
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


What is interesting to me is that these people came to America to escape the "classes" and in turn created their own "class" system that, in many ways, was more stringent and stilted than that of the aristocracy of Europe.   What do you think?

 

Mtn Muse



I so forgot to comment on this little bit just a moment ago.  The class system presented in the first few chapters of GWTW is something I noticed when I was reading.  Young America was at least as bad with their castes, if you will, as any European society.  I believe someone has already addressed in their reply the many manifestations of the caste system in the Civil War era South.  Old money over new, those with many slaves over those with few, "middle class" over "white trash", whites over blacks, house slaves over field hands, rich man's slaves over the poor man's... 

 

I don't know that I'd necessarily say that the Southern culture created classes that were any more "stringent and stilted" than those of Europe, however.  I very much enjoy Brit Lit, and I would say that the British culture of the same time period was comparable to that of America.  Among the rich, those with new money were regarded with as much suspicion in Europe as in this book.  Men who began in lower classes and worked their way up through trade or what-have-you were not regarded in the same light as young men who were born to fortune.  European house servants had a hierarchy all of their own, and even house servants looked down upon other poor who had to take less favorable positions.

 

Perhaps the reason that young America so much resembled Europe is because that is all the people had ever known.  Or, perhaps it is just in human nature that we want to be anywhere but the very bottom -- if we can't be on top, at least we derive some sick pleasure and pride from knowing that we also are not the worst off.  I don't think this is necessarily something "Southern" or "European", but rather a universal truth.

'A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.' --Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!
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Fozzie
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


willowy wrote:

Mountain_Muse wrote:

 


 

"What is interesting to me is that these people came to America to escape the "classes" and in turn created their own "class" system that, in many ways, was more stringent and stilted than that of the aristocracy of Europe.   What do you think?"

 

 



That is an interesting point,  I hadn't thought of that! The South at that time certainly did seem to be a society that depended on a social hierarchy and expected it's people to follow it and it's rules to the letter. There are many parts where we see this to be true, like at the barbecue when Rhett shows up and the ladies are shocked because he isn't "received" in polite society, or even when Scarlett is picking a dress and has to consider that one shouldn't have bare arms before a certain time of day (though she goes ahead and does this!) or when she is forced to eat before going to the party because she shouldn't show an unlady like appetite when there....so many things, albeit silly things,  for ladies to worry about!


I think most people came to America to escape religious persecuation and to have better opportunities.  I can see what you mean that in order to have better opportunities, part of that may have to do with being able to escape the class system.  At least one of the families in the book had been in north Georgia for seven or eight generations, which, given the life expectancies of the time, would put them arriving in the 1600's.  At that time, I thought religious freedom was more of the goal.  I wonder if after seeking religious freedom, and abtaining it, they then didn't go on to create a society like that from which they had come.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS


Camoena wrote:

I would have to agree with Mtn Muse that Scarlett appears to me to have a lot of "strong-willed spoiled selfishness."  Has anyone ever read The Poisonwood Bible?  Scarlett reminds me so very much of the character Rachel in that novel.  I like Scarlett a little better, but perhaps only because of the context of GWTW.

 

 



Yes, I loved The Poisonwood Bible!  That is a great comparison.

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.
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Fozzie
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Re: GWTW: Week 1, 8/1-8/7, Ch. 1-7, NO SPOILERS

 

This is my first time reading Gone with the Wind and I have never seen the movie.  However, I do vividly remember the comedy sketch from The Carol Burnett show where Carol played Scarlett!  LOL!  I don’t want to say any more because it is a bit of a spoiler!

 

Yes, many of the women are strong characters.  I loved the back stories on both of Scarlett’s parents.  Both of them are very strong people!  I also liked getting a feel for the culture and norms of the time.  I found the expression in Chapter Six, “He isn’t received,” to be a very interesting way of describing Rhett Butler’s social status.

 

I don’t know about you all, but I felt almost physically jolted when I read the first sentence of Chapter Seven:  “Within two weeks Scarlett had become a wife, and within two months more she was a widow.”  The first six chapters of the book told of just two days, the day before the barbeque and the day of the barbeque, if I am remembering correctly.  Both the information contained in the first sentence of the chapter and the contrast in the pace of time as compared with the prior part of the book created a such a sense of abruptness that I found myself thinking about how abruptly and quickly Scarlett’s whole life changed.  This was a great technique used by the author!

Laura

Reading gives us someplace to go when we have to stay where we are.