Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Forty-Five - Gone With The Wind - Part Five

First post about Scarlett plus a bit of history, and, oh yeah, Ellen was Scarlett's mother.
Ellen’s life was not easy, nor was it happy, but she did not expect life to be easy, and, if it was not happy, that was woman’s lot. It was a man’s world, and she accepted it as such. The man owned the property, and the woman managed it. The man took the credit for the management, and the woman praised his cleverness. The man roared like a bull when a splinter was in his finger, and the woman muffled the moans of childbirth, lest she disturb him. Men were rough of speech and often drunk. Women ignored the lapses of speech and put the drunkards to bed without bitter words. Men were rude and outspoken, women were always kind, gracious and forgiving.
COME ON!!! Surely some women didn't buy into this. But what options did they have? Mitchell even makes a point of illustrating that, once a pregnant woman begins to show beyond what clothing can masquerade, she is confined to the house, just as Sense and Sensibility’s Charlotte Palmer was confined. A pregnant (that word was never uttered!) woman couldn’t go anywhere because someone would know she had s-e-x with her husband! OMG!!! But when she has the baby, it’s time to PARTY! Everyone is happy! Okay, but um, like, isn’t a baby also indicative of sex?
Also, Scarlett was not kind, gracious or forgiving. She sometimes felt badly that she didn’t measure up to her mother but sometimes resented her mother for not seeing the future and preparing Scarlett to live during a war rather than continuing her life as a belle in the Old South. Miss Scarlett could be irrational, that’s for sure.  Yet sometimes she was the most rational and practical person in the room.
When she arose at last and saw again the black ruins of Twelve Oaks, her head was raised high and something that was youth and beauty and potential tenderness had gone out of her face forever. What was past was past. Those who were dead were dead. The lazy luxury of the old days was gone, never to return. And, as Scarlett settled the heavy basket across her arm, she had settled her own mind and her own life.

There was no going back and she was going forward.

Throughout the South for fifty years there would be bitter-eyed women who looked backward, to dead times, to dead men, evoking memories that hurt and were futile, bearing poverty with bitter pride because they had those memories. But Scarlett was never to look back.
She put food on the table, picked and planted cotton, and organized everyone else at Tara. Well, bullied them, actually, but they all worked hard.

Her "I won’t think about that now" mantra is actually a survival strategy. If she stops to think about the enormity of what’s happening, she won’t be able to DO anything. Rather than fall apart and be useless, she postpones thinking about the awful things until she can stand it. There are things that can be helped and she concentrates upon those things. Excellent plan in a crisis.

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