Do you remember the Book to Movie Challenge? I think I failed to generate consistent interest and participation in the challenge, so at this stage I think I’ll start all over again in January and hopefully do a better job.
In the meantime, it may have taken 4 months of on-and-off reading, but I finally finished Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell for the read-along hosted by Corinne and Brona way back in May, and words aren’t enough to say how much I adored this book. I also watched the movie adaptation from 1939 starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable.
First published in 1936, Gone With the Wind remains the only novel published by Margaret Mitchell. The novel was a winner right out of the gate, topping bestseller lists for two years straight, with Margaret Mitchell winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1937. To this day, Gone With the Wind remains one of the most popular American novels of all time following the Bible.
Gone With the Wind follows the trials and tribulations of Scarlett O’Hara, a young and beautiful Southern belle from a cotton plantation in Georgia during the American Civil War and the Reconstruction Era. Scarlett comes of age in the story as she faces the terror of war and death, the loss of family and friends, the desperation of poverty, and the disappearance of a way of life that defined the South.
* CONTAINS SPOILERS
Gone With the Wind has everything I could ever want in a great read: a dramatic setting; unforgettable characters who make you fall in love with them despite their flaws; and a riveting plot with colossal historical and social context. The book is very long, but I became captivated by Scarlett’s rebelliousness and how she defied society’s expectations of her to become independent and control her own destiny.
Unfortunately, the secondary black characters in the book are one-dimensional stereotypes and depicted as simple-minded or even stupid. This leads, of course, to the portrayal of racism in Gone With the Wind. The racism and language is definitely offensive and explains much of the controversy that is still attached to the book and movie today.
Although the movie doesn’t stay completely true to the novel and removed numerous details, I still thought the adaptation successfully captured the scope of the novel’s epic story. Most importantly, the right actors were cast to play Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, our less than perfect couple.
Gone With the Wind is not a historical romance nor a Civil War epic. The story is about survival, independence and identity featuring one of the most love-hated heroines of all time, and the most quotable (“As God as my witness … “Fiddle-dee-dee!” … “…for tomorrow is another day”). You can’t read Gone With the Wind without confronting the issues of black slavery and racism; however, is it possible to write about this era without including the racist attitudes of that time? I think not and believe generations of readers have taken this into consideration, choosing to see what can be learned about the past in order to change the future, and continue to love Gone With the Wind for all of its literary greatness.
Book = 5/5 Stars
Movie = 4/5 Stars