Saturday, 25 July 2015

Gone With the Wind - check in

So close...the end is in sight...only three chapters to go.

But for now, this is the official check-in post for chapters 51-60 of Margaret Mitchell's Pulitzer Prize winning Gone With the Wind.

The birth of Bonnie sees lots of changes occurring in the Butler household. Mammy has finally accepted Rhett and Rhett has been smitten by his beautiful baby girl. After a rather compromising afternoon with Ashley, Scarlett decides that she does not want any more babies (to preserve her 17 inch waist and to enjoy a similar marriage to Ashley and Melanie). So Rhett is banished to the spare bedroom.

Wade is upset because he is not invited to the birthday parties of the Atlanta old guard families. Rhett decides that Bonnie will never know this kind of pain and he sets out to win over all the old families.

Scarlett continues on her self-absorbed, self-obsessed path and finds herself alone once again with Ashley. Curiously she has discovered that her feelings for him are no longer of the raging passion kind, but more of a loving, comfortable friend. But it still looks very bad, when India and Mrs Elsing walk in on Scarlett being comforted in the arms of Ashley at the lumber mill.

What follows is one of the most uncomfortable, awkward birthday parties in the history of mankind at Melanie's. Scarlett desperately tries to get out of it, but Rhett forces her to attend to face her shame. But, of course, dear, loving, unsuspecting Melly stands by Scarlett with ferocious tenacity.

At home, a night of unbridled, drunken, rough sex leaves Scarlett bewildered and slightly shamed by how much she enjoyed herself. Rhett's drunken declaration of love satisfies her age old desire to finally have Rhett exactly where she wants so she can manipulate him. Except that things don't go exactly to plan.

Poor Scarlett is still as bewildered by other people as she has ever been. She is completely unable to see other people's perspective or understand that other people have different motivations to herself. As a result, everything that happens is always a surprise or a shock to her and everyone is mystery.

Rhett ups and leaves her, taking Bonnie on an extended holiday to visit family in Charleston. Melly sticks to Scarlett like glue to ensure that the Old Guard of society continue to accept Scarlett on Melly's terms.

After a few months Scarlett realises she is pregnant again, but for the first time, with a child she is actually looking forward to having. She thinks a boy might appease Rhett and return their marriage to what it was before.

Sadly, when he does return home, miscommunication, fear and an argument result in Scarlett falling down the stairs. For a while she is gravely ill, suffering a miscarriage, broken ribs and a high fever. Rhett is distraught with guilt, fear and love.

Scarlett's recovery is slow, but after a brief visit to Tara she comes back home, pale and still weak, but much better in mind and spirits.

In the meantime, young Bonnie has been learning to ride her pony. Bonnie has become quite willful and spoilt and she insists on taking a jump that is too high for her pony. Tragically, she falls and breaks her neck.

Rhett, in his grief, shots the pony before getting rip roaring drunk. Scarlett blames Rhett for Bonnie's death and lashes out with her bitter, cruel words, sending Rhett into a downward spiral of grief, self-hatred and drunkenness.

Mammy has to call on Miss Melly's help when Rhett refuses to allow Bonnie to be buried because she will be scared of the dark. Scarlett and Rhett are unable to comfort each other as their marriage cracks wide open under the pressure. Rhett turns to alcohol and Belle Watling for support and Scarlett realises that she has nobody but Melly to turn to.

This section is full of tragedy and despair.

Watching Rhett and Scarlett's marriage disintegrate is heart-breaking because they both do actually love each other and are so alike it should be easy for them. But pride, fear and an inability to be open and honest drives wedge after wedge between them. They continually bring the worst out in each other and they seem to enjoy baiting each other with their cruel, spiteful words.

The frustration continues to be Scarlett.

Her inability to assess, evaluate or understand anyone's point of view except her own has moved me from pity to infuriating impatience to eventually not giving a damn (sound familiar?)
She might be spunky and determined and hard-working, but sadly her selfishness, manipulative behaviours and outright meanness makes these good qualities count for naught (in my opinion). There even comes a point when you believe that she is finally getting what she deserves! She doesn't even bring out the best in her readers (& I am no Miss Melly)!!

Of course, Scarlett is a brilliant protagonist.

Full of drama, contradictions and provocations, she is a constant source of light, dark and movement. We don't have to like her; I'm not sure we're even meant to, but we can admire her at times, even if that admiration is grudging and tinged with disbelief at times.

How is your relationship with Scarlett progressing?

If you have missed any of the previous check-ins but would like to post your latest link here, please feel free to add them. Sorry this post is a bit rushed, but as regulars to my blog will be aware, we are in the middle of moving house. Finishing this post today has been my little treat/break inbetween boxes and cleaning out the shed (ugh!!)

I've left this linky open for a month to give folks plenty of time to jump on in.

With only three chapters to go until the end, let me add here how much I have enjoyed this readalong. Being able to read such a huge chunkster in such fine company with such a generous time frame between each check-in, has made this a very easy and do-able event.

Would anyone else like to host the last check-in and wrap-up post on the 1st August? I may have time next weekend or I may just be a blubbering mess curled up amongst the detritus of packing boxes!
Please let us know in the comments below if you'd like to host so we all know where to head to when we're finished.

I'm using #gwtwreadalong on Instagram if anyone wants to post pics of where they've been reading GWTW.


Schedule

Friday May 1: first post – just to enthuse about how excited we are to begin. 
Saturday May 16: first check-in on Chapters One through Ten
Saturday May 30:  check-in on Chapters Eleven through Twenty
Saturday June 13:  check-in on Chapters Twenty-One through Thirty
Saturday June 27:  check-in on Chapters Thirty-One through Forty
Saturday July 11:  check-in on Chapters Forty-One through Fifty
Saturday July 25:  check-in on Chapters Fifty-One through Sixty
Saturday August 1:  check-in on Chapters Sixty-One through Sixty-Three (final discussion)

3 comments:

  1. Sorry, Brona, I didn't get to write my check-in post this weekend. I'll do the last one next Saturday, ok? Your observations regarding Scarlett are spot-on. And you are right, we don't have to like her to realize what a great character she is. My feelings towards her have varied widely during the read-along, and by now I am pretty much where I was at the beginning: mostly annoyed by her inability and unwillingness to consider anyone other than herself. Her disintegrating marriage to Rhett was sad to read about. They are so right and also so wrong for each other. And Bonnie's death... so tragic. I'm not sure you could pack much else into this book; there's some of everything in it. And lots to think about. See you next Saturday!

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  2. You're so sweet to host this while is the throes of packing. x Also, I continue to absolutely adore all things Scarlett O'Hara. :)

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  3. Scarlett really is a brilliant protagonist. She is so selfish. I remember reread this a couple years ago and seeing her selfishness really come out in her treatment of her firstborn. It was heartbreaking to see his timidity. I love this book so much!

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