Book Review: Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell

gone_with_the_windHistorical fiction, the fabled nightmare of our literature! So they say, but most are quite gripping once you’ve delved in. This was the case for me with Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

I admit, I started this classic for my social studies class. However, once I got past the first few chapters, the rest of the pages blew by quickly.
Setting the scene during the civil war, this story tells of Scarlett O’Hara, daughter of rich Southern plantation owners. Flirty and frivolous, she spends her early life attending parties and breaking boys’ hearts. There is small talk of civil war, but she pays no heed. When her “true love” turns her down, a series of events places her in Atlanta. Suddenly, the war is much more realistic and closer to home. Thousands enlist to join the Confederate army, and hospitals begin working overtime. With a harsh blockade, life within the city becomes stricter, but she manages. Finally, the Union breaks through the last defenses, and storms the city. Fleeing to her old ransacked home, Scarlett struggles to hold together the family and rebuild her life. Gradually, she raises her social status, recovering along with the rest of the world.

This historical fiction gives detailed descriptions of Civil War era life. From the daily life in the city to the social hierarchy, nothing is left out. What makes it so interesting is that Mitchell tells the story from a Southerner’s point of view. Usually the South is portrayed as a single-faced bad guy, but Gone With the Wind gives us two viewpoints. Many average people were just defending their homeland rather than preserving slavery. It really sheds a new light on Union General Sherman’s March to the Sea, in which thousands of homes and towns were pillaged. The history in this book makes it especially interesting, as it places everything in context of real events.

Gone With the Wind gained most of its fame as an acclaimed love story. Sadly, I just don’t see it. I feel like it wasn’t really romantic at all until near the very end of the book. Even then, it seemed like Scarlett and her lover, Rhett Butler, weren’t truly in love. Her first failed marriages were purely out of self interest, and her original love never returned any feelings. I think there are probably lots of better love stories out there. But don’t take my word for it, read it yourself! This timeless classic is a must for any avid reader. Soon, you won’t even mind the history part. Enjoy!

-Phillip X., 8th grade

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