I love to read and I have many favorite books. But when asked what my favorite book is, I always say Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. It was the first “grown-up” book I ever read. I was around 12 the first time that I read it, and I hated Scarlett O’Hara. She was selfish and spoiled, and loved Ashley Wilkes when she should have loved Rhett Butler. But what I considered to be the most unforgivable was her neglect of her children. I was a kid, and I didn’t understand a mother not caring for her children.
Now that I am an adult, and have read Gone with the Wind many times, I see things differently. I truly admire Scarlett. She always did what she had to do to ensure the survival of herself, her family and Tara. She went from a sheltered spoiled brat to a strong and tough woman, who lived life by her own rules. I see now, what I couldn’t see as a kid. Scarlett did care for her children, in the best way that she knew how. She didn’t always have time for them, but she did all she could to provide for them. Scarlett wasn’t a great Mother; she wasn’t even a good person, but I like her anyway.
However, Scarlett’s love for Ashley will always annoy me. Why would you want Ashley, when you can have Rhett Butler? If I could find one thing that I admired about Ashley, maybe it wouldn’t annoy me, but I can’t. He is weak and too stupid to really love Melanie the way she deserves.
Rhett, on the other hand, is awesome! He knows exactly what kind of person Scarlett is, but loves her anyway. He does as he pleases, says what he wants, is a complete scoundrel and he doesn’t try to hide it. But underneath all of that, he has a good heart. Rhett’s treatment of Scarlett’s children and his regard for Melanie prove that.
Melanie Wilkes is one of my favorite characters of all time. In some ways, she is exactly as she appears to be; which is, a truly good and sweet person. But she is so much more! It was Melanie who came running, carrying a sword, when she heard Scarlett shoot the Yankee soldier. It was Melanie who came back to help Scarlett fight the fire that threatened Tara. It was Melanie who stood by Scarlett when everyone else shunned her. Melanie appears to be timid, but she is just as strong and brave, if not more so, than Scarlett. What I love best about her, is her ability to always see and believe the best about those she loves.
I’m probably one of the few people completely satisfied with the ending. I don’t see it as a cliffhanger. I don’t wonder what happens next. This is where the story ends. Scarlett doesn’t get her man, and I’m okay with that.
Are you a fan of Gone With the Wind? Did you like the ending? What’s you favorite book? Let me know in the comments!
This post originally ran on July 16, 2010.