Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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

Margaret Mitchell

Let's talk Captain Rhett Butler, shall we? My goodness, yes. Captain Butler was "not received" in decent homes. I rather like that designation. Apparently he was out with a young woman after dark and refused to marry her! So Rhett is not received into decent society. Except for the Wilkes, who invited him to the barbecue at which Scarlett met him. Captain Butler knew a thing or ten about women. At one point, Scarlett has a bit of a rant about Rhett and his friendship with a Lady of the Evening--
Bad women and all they involved were mysterious and revolting matters to her. She knew that men patronized these women for purposes which no lady should mention — or, if she did mention them, in whispers and by indirection and euphemism. She had always thought that only common vulgar men visited such women. Before this moment, it had never occurred to her that nice men — that is, men she met at nice homes and with whom she danced — could possibly do such things. It opened up an entirely new field of thought and one that was horrifying. Perhaps all men did this! It was bad enough that they forced their wives to go through such indecent performances but to actually seek out low women and pay them for such accommodation! Oh, men were so vile, and Rhett Butler was the worst of them all!
Remember that any mention of "indecent performances" was considered trashy. Apparently it gave women the vapors. One more-- 
She could hear him chuckling softly. Sometimes he was odious. In fact, most of the time he was odious. It was awful for a man to know what women really thought about and talked about. It made a girl feel positively undressed. And no man ever learned such things from good women either. She was indignant that he had read her mind. She liked to believe herself a thing of mystery to men, but she knew Rhett thought her as transparent as glass.
Scarlett saw that as a bad thing; she was taught to always keep men guessing. Mitchell was making a point about how naive women of the late 19th century were in comparison to those of the early 20th. My, how far we have come. I'm not a huge fan of Kierkegaard but I do like "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards." Unless one has, say, a time-turner or something. (I was given one as a gift but it doesn't work properly.)

I haven't "southernized" (not a real word) Scarlett's words here, and neither did Mitchell--though she did use the dialect of the slaves/former slaves. It was distracting and a bit tedious to have to read a sentence several times to comprehend its meaning. 

Back to Captain Butler... Rhett saw much of the world, both good and bad. He loved intensely and showed a great deal of wisdom.

"All wars are sacred,” he said. “To those who have to fight them. If the people who started wars didn’t make them sacred, who would be foolish enough to fight? But, no matter what rallying cries the orators give to the idiots who fight, no matter what noble purposes they assign to wars, there is never but one reason for a war. And that is money. All wars are in reality money squabbles. But so few people ever realize it."
When I was a young college student, I heard from a military man that wars are fought for economic reasons. I disagreed, for I had bought into the propaganda. But no longer. "Wait a minute!" I hear you say. "What about WWII?" I would say that is the exception which proves the rule but I don't believe that old saying--doesn't it simply mean that those creating the rule didn't find a big enough rule? Or has it come to mean something beyond the original intent? In any case, I don't have an answer about WWII. 

Bet Rhett would know.


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