The Great Gone With the Wind Readalong – Part 3 (Chapters 17-30)
And…we’re back. Welcome to The Great Gone With the Wind Readalong, Part 3!
Before We Get Started | Chapter 17 | Chapter 18 | Chapter 19 | Chapter 20 | Chapter 21 | Chapter 22 | Chapter 23 | Chapter 24 | Chapter 25 | Chapter 26 | Chapter 27 | Chapter 28 | Chapter 29 | Chapter 30 | Discussion Prompts
Huge question…are we going too slowly? When you respond, please let me know and I will weigh the options. Right now we are scheduled to discuss Part 4 (Chapters 31-47) on Monday, September 26, but if the consensus is that we are going too slowly, I will move it up a week. Let me know!
Secondly, thanks to the many people (too many to count) who have responded and participated thus far. What an amazing group! Congratulations to Sarah Williams, who won a copy of The Authentic South of Gone With the Wind! This week’s prize is a signed copy of Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind: A Bestseller’s Odyssey, by the incomparable Ellen F. Brown and John Wiley. This book is as fascinating as GWTW itself and belongs on any fan’s bookshelf…thanks, Ellen and John, for donating a copy! I’ll choose a random commenter before the next week’s installment.
Things really pick up in this section…and this time, just to change things up, I’m going to summarize each chapter with a notable quote.
“I won’t go back to the hospital if they hang me! My goodness, I didn’t start this war and I don’t see any reason why I should be worked to death and–”
Scarlett ditches her hospital duties, sees slaves from Tara, and faces the idea of a siege in Atlanta. Read more about The Atlanta Campaign.
“Good heavens, Miss Pitty! This is war time. We can’t think of the proprieties now. We must think of Miss Melly.”
Pitty ditches Scarlett and Scarlett faces the idea of delivering Melly’s baby in Atlanta. More information about Civil War-era maternity and pregnancy.
Dear,” he said quietly, “I am complimenting your intelligence by asking you to be my mistress without having first seduced you.”
Rhett makes Scarlett an indecent proposal in what has got to be one of the sexiest moments in non-explicit literature. For an idea of just how inappropriate/unheard-of his proposal was, check out this description of courtship rituals in the antebellum South.
“If I should die, will you take my baby?”
Melly enters labor pains in a hushed, humid Atlanta.
“Fo’ Gawd, Miss Scarlett! We’s got ter have a doctah. Ah — Ah — Miss Scarlett, Ah doan know nuthin’ ’bout bringin’ babies.”
Scarlett visits the railroad depot to find Doctor Meade and must face the fact that Melly’s baby will be brought by her and Prissy’s inexpert hands. Railroad depot, 1864.
“Yes, Ma’am. You see, the Yankees are coming.”
The baby is brought, and it’s time to escape! The baby boy delivered, Scarlett sends Prissy to find Captain Butler.
“I will go home!” she cried. “I will! I will!”
Scarlett ropes Captain Butler into escorting her, Melly, Wade, Prissy and the baby out of Atlanta…he obliges, to a point, and leaves her on the road to Rough and Ready after a breathtaking declaration. What about the people who stayed in Atlanta? Some of them camped out in “bombproofs” to escape bombardment.
“Just a few more steps,” hummed her brain, over and over, “just a few more steps for to tote the weary load.”
Scarlett makes it to Tara…only to find utter devastation. “Tote the weary load” is a lyric from My Old Kentucky Home, which Rhett sings with Scarlett, and was considered by MM as a potential book title.
“If I have to steal or kill — as God is my witness, I’m never going to be hungry again.”
Scarlett awakens to assess the wreckage of Tara and her life and resolves that the family plantation is worth fighting for.
She had killed a man, she who took care never to be in at the kill on a hunt, she who could not bear the squealing of a hog at slaughter or the squeak of a rabbit in a snare. Murder! she thought dully. I’ve done murder. Oh, this can’t be happening to me!
Scarlett kills a Yankee deserter…and is helped by an unlikely ally. And on a visit to Grandma Fontaine, she learns that facing the worst that can happen can change a woman. Fascinating article on desertion in the Rebel and Yankee ranks.
“Be a little man, Wade. They’re only a passel of damn Yankees.”
Yankees return to Tara and burn what they don’t take. Melanie saves Scarlett, who must admit that she’s good in a pinch. Slave perspectives post-Civil War explained, briefly.
“Daytime is enough like a nightmare without my dreaming things.”
Scarlett encounters a recurring dream about hunger, and entertains Frank Kennedy over Christmas. First-hand accounts of the surrender at Appomattox.
“Melly,” she said, “What’s going to happen to Southern girls?”
The war is over, and the neighbors respond. Fascinating portrait of Civil War widows.
“After all, he’s her husband, ain’t he?”
Will Benteen comes to Tara…and Ashley returns to Melanie.
Feel free to respond to some of these questions to get the discussion going. There’s no right or wrong answer!
Thoughts on Part 3? It is rumored that Margaret Mitchell wrote this entire section in one big chunk, and it certainly reads that way. I can very well remember looking up after reading this section for the first time and being amazed that it wasn’t a sultry summer’s evening.
Siege: The war finally in her backyard, Scarlett is forced to flee. What does the war do to Scarlett? What about her renewed love of Tara?
Trauma:This is probably one of the more traumatic sections of the book. How did the trauma affect you, the reader? What do you make of the nightmarish quality of this section? How does trauma affect the characters?
Slavery: MM’s portrayal of Prissy is controversial at best. What do you think of Prissy and the other slave characters in this section?
Sex: Talk about sexy…Rhett finally declares himself in infuriating fashion. What do you make of it? And what do you make of Scarlett’s terror of childbirth even though she herself has a child?
The little details: More details…which ones stood out?
Minor Characters: The neighbors and the slaves are back…which ones did you love/hate/wonder about?