Thursday, February 19, 2015

Book Review: Gone With the Wind

Many years ago my mom convinced me to watch the film version of Gone With the Wind.  I remembered two things about it; it was unfathomably long and I could not stand Scarlett O'Hara.  Well, about a month ago I was alone at my mom's house waiting for the laundry to finish so I could head home.  I meandered through my mom's books and saw Gone With the Wind.  I had actually started it once when I was in college but I didn't get too far.  This time I thought...why not?  I had time to kill and I probably wouldn't finish it anyway.  Surprisingly I couldn't put it down!
I took the book home with me but a bunch of pages were falling out.  I asked Kwacha if I could buy it  for my Kindle on Amazon since the price wasn't too shabby for a 1037 page book.  (I think it might be the longest book I have ever read, second to the Bible.)  Thankfully he said yes.

I think it was the way that Margaret Mitchell described the characters that initially drew me in.  Once I really got into it though, Scarlett O'Hara was bugging me just as much as I remembered, if not more!  And this continued on and on.  I don't think it's ever pleasant to see someone else's sins and realize that those same sins reside in your own heart, even if it may not come out in the same way.  Pride, vanity, way too much self-reliance and rudeness are just some of the words one might use to describe Scarlett's character.  

Rhett Butler wasn't much better.  And don't get me started on Ashley Wilkes, the weak-hearted weasel!  Ahem...anyway.  Melanie Wilkes was one of the few redeeming characters in the book.  She is the reason I kept on reading.  Well, partly.  As much as I couldn't stand Scarlett O'Hara, I sympathized with her many times, especially after the Civil War started and her parents died and she struggled to help her family survive hunger and thievery from the Yankees.  I kept reading in hopes that these trials would cause her to change, and they started to, but then she started gaining wealth and she married Rhett and her love for money turned her into a monster.  

One of the things that surprised me most in reading the book was the Southern perspective on the Civil War.  I think most people grow up learning about the Civil War through the Northern perspective.  You can't help but siding with the Yankees.  Of course, I don't know how true to life the book is, but if it is, there were certainly some atrocities played out by the Union.  In many cases, obviously, slavery was a horrible thing.  But there were also a number of slaves that loved the families they served and even when they were given the opportunity for freedom, they remained with the families.  It seems that the Union put many former slaves in the legislature whether they were qualified or not.  And many of the Yankees did not care for the people at all and still didn't see them as equal, even though they fought for their freedom.  (A side note: I know extremely little about politics, I will admit, so take what I say here with a grain of salt.)  All that to say, I was fascinated at reading about the Civil War through a new lens.

As I said before, my favorite character is Melanie. She is so full of love for Scarlett that she never believes any evil of her (which believe me, there was plenty!). Her character truly lives out 1 Corinthians 13, that love believes all things and hopes all things. She portrays a gentle and quiet spirit  without fear. The horrible thing is that Scarlett hated her in return because she married the man she was "in love" with. However, Melanie's relentless love for Scarlett wins her over in the end. When Melanie dies at the end of the book, Scarlett realizes that she does indeed love her and that Melanie was truly one of the few people that loved Scarlett. She realizes how much she depended on her and she's devastated over her death. But it's Melanie's death that helps wake Scarlett up to the truth. She finally sees Ashley for who he really is and she realizes that she actually doesn't love him. She really  loves Rhett but by this time it's too late. Rhett had finally had enough and leaves. Throughout the book Scarlett deals with every trial she faces by saying, "I'll think about it tomorrow." So the book ends with her planning how to get Rhett back "tomorrow." Because after all, "Tomorrow is another day."

I don't think I'll read another book of this length for a looooong time, BUT, it did leave me with the truth that God alone satisfies. Scarlett found no satisfaction in money or people. Her love for money ruined her life just as 1 Timothy tells us it will. Her best friend died and her husband left her. We must always put our hope and trust in God alone.

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