GWTW Read-Along: Chp. 51-63 Notes

gone-with-the-windAt the risk of being called a book abuser, I’ll admit that when I finished Gone with the Wind, I literally threw it across the room. My first thought was “That’s it? That’s the end!” and I was bitter, angry, disgruntled, etc.

Oh, by the way, spoilers abound.

As many of you already know, the ending was spoiled for me. However, once I started the last section, I was sucked right back in and completely forgot about it. I knew Rhett was going to walk away, but I didn’t know Rhett as going to walk away after Scarlett realized she never loved Ashley.

“Now she knew the haven she had sought in dreams, the place of warm safety which had always been hidden from her in the mist. It was not Ashley — oh, never Ashley! There was no more warmth in him than in a marsh light, no more security than in quicksand. It was Rhett — Rhett who had strong arms to hold her, a broad chest to pillow her tired head, jeering laughter to pull her affairs into proper perspective. And complete understanding, because he, like her, saw truth as truth, unobstructed by impractical notions of honor, sacrifice, or high belief in human nature. He loved her! Why hadn’t she realized that he loved her, for all his taunting remark to the contrary? Melanie had seen it and with her last breath had said, “Be kind to him.” {pg. 1021}

I didn’t know Rhett as going to walk away after she confesses her love for him.

“Oh, Rhett, I love you so, darling! I must have loved you for years and I was such a fool I didn’t know it. Rhett, you must believe me!” {pg. 1028}

Or that he was going to response the way he did to her announcement (besides, of course, his declaration that “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” {pg. 1035}).

“Did it ever occur you that I loved you as much as a man can love a woman? Loved you for ears before I finally got you? During the war I’d go away and try to forget you, but I couldn’t and I always had to come back. After the war I risked arrest, just to come back and find you. I cared so much I believe I would have killed Frank Kennedy if he hadn’t died when he did. I loved you but I couldn’t let you know it. You’re so brutal to those who love you, Scarlett. You take their love and hold it over their heads like a whip.” {pg. 1029}

“It was so obvious that we were meant for each other. So obvious that I was the only man of your acquaintance who could love you after knowing you as you really are — hard and greedy and unscrupulous, like me. I loved you and I took a chance. I thought Ashley would fad out of your mind. But,” he shrugged, “I tired everything I knew and nothing worked. And I loved you so, Scarlett. If you had only let me, I could have loved you as gently and as tenderly as ever a man loved a woman. But I couldn’t let you know, for I knew you’d think me weak and try to use my love against me. And always — always there was Ashley. It drove me crazy. I couldn’t sit across the table from you every night, knowing you wished Ashley was sitting there in my place. And I couldn’t hold you in my arms at night and know that — well, it doesn’t matter now.” {pg. 1031}

Yet, the more I think about it, the more I realize that this is the perfect ending for the novel. Yes, I wanted Rhett and Scarlett to ride off into the sunset and live happily ever after, but the overall conflicts in the novel are that (1) Scarlett thinks she loves Ashley and (2) she completely takes Melanie for granted because she believes her to be weak and feeble. And in the end, she realizes she doesn’t love Ashley and Melanie has always been her pillar of strength.

“Behind that door, Melanie was going and, with her, the strength upon which she had relied unknowingly for so many years. Why, oh, why has she not realized before this how much she loved and needed Melanie? But who would have thought of small plain Melanie was a tower of strength? Melanie who was shy to tears before strangers, timid about raising her voice in an opinion of her own, fearful of the disapproval of old ladies, Melanie who lacked the courage to say Boo to a goose? And yet –… Yes, Melanie had been there that day with a sword in her small hand, ready to do battle for her.” {pg. 1012}

It’s Melanie who saves Scarlett’s social standing and reputation after she and Ashley are caught in a compromising position. It’s Melanie who helps both her and Rhett — but mostly Rhett — cope with Bonnie’s death and Scarlett’s miscarriage.

“Ah say Miss Scarlett kin stan’ whut de Lawd sen’, kase she done has ter stan’ a-plen’y, but Mis’ Rhett — Miss Melly, he ain’ never had ter stan’ nuthin’ he din’ wanter stan’, not nuthin’. It’s him. It’s him Ah come ter see you ’bout.” {pg. 992}

Scarlett and Rhett’s life is marred by tragedy — Scarlett’s miscarriage, Bonnie’s death, Melanie’s death — and really, for them, there is no happily ever after. But I do I believe they will wind up together again because, in the past, when they are separated, they always find a way back to one another.

“After all, tomorrow is another day.” {pg. 1037}

Thanks to Matt for hosting this read-along and for encourage us all pick up this classic. I’m so glad I did.

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2 thoughts on “GWTW Read-Along: Chp. 51-63 Notes

  1. I’m glad I did, too. And although I would also like to think that one day Rhett and Scarlett may get back together, I loved the ending, it was perfect literary-wise. As usual, I’ll be linking your post to mine.

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  2. I always knew that scarlett will realise one day but alongwith that i also hoped that rhett will forgive her.But i never thought the ending would be like this.Anyways we all get to learn one thing that we should never take someone for granted,we should hold every person close to our heart because we might wake up one day and realise that we’ve lost a diamond while we were too busy collecting stones………

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