[Part 4] Gone With The Wind – Reconstruction

“We’re not wheat, we’re buckwheat! When a storm comes along it flattens ripe wheat because it’s dry and can’t bend with the wind. But ripe buckwheat’s got sap in it and it bends. And when the wind has passed, it springs up almost as straight and strong as before.” (p.782 of Indonesian edition)

At the near end of part 3, there was a new person at Tara which I haven’t mentioned in the third updated post. He was a soldier that suffering for pneumonia, and was helped and cared by the O’Haras. Will Benteen–that soldiers, had no family anymore, and after his recovery he was able to help the works on Tara, so they let him stay. Will’s role was quite significant. He could lift some of Scarlett’s burdens. Although Scarlett still set things up, Will’s presence was very helpful.

In part 4, the first problems arose after the war was the tax for Tara. The Yankees raised the tax that made Tara’s ownership was threatened. In the midst of despair because no men at the house had a solution to this problem, Scarlett decided to seduce Rhett Butler–the only people who still had money at that time–to marry her.

Arrived in Atlanta, Scarlett found out that Rhett was imprisoned. She visited him secretly, performed her plans, but unfortunately at the tip of her succeed, Rhett realized that Scarlett just wanted to use his money. Failed to Rhett, Scarlett accidentally met Frank Kennedy–her sister’s, Suellen, lover–which was quite success with his shop. Scarlett seduced Frank to marry her, because she was sure that if Frank marry Suellen, her sister wouldn’t think about Tara though she has money for it.

After marrying Frank, Scarlett began to meddle in her husband’s business–thing that Frank didn’t like. It was in the hands of Scarlett, Frank’s business developed faster. But by doing so, Scarlett broke the espoused boundaries of society at the time. She bought sawmill and managed it by herself. She drove to and fro, doing business with the Yankees, while the current state of Atlanta was not safe. Free negroes were getting insolent. Even when she was pregnant, Scarlett couldn’t trust anybody to manage her sawmill. She drove alone because Frank had to manage the shop and she had had an argue with her slave. At that times, Rhett often appeared and accompanied her, it made other women became more annoying at Scarlett on her behaviour that had crossed the line.

Shocking news came from Tara, Gerald suddenly died. Everybody blamed Suellen for his death, because a reason. Only Will and Melanie defended her, for other reasons. Even Will said that he wanted to marry Suellen–though it was Carreen that he loved. One of the reason was because Ashley wanted to move from Tara. There would be noone except Will that could manage Tara, and it would be easier if he become a part of the family. Didn’t want to be far away from Ashley, Scarlett persuaded him to manage one of her sawmill.

In the chaotic and insecure situation in Atlanta, there was a nocturnal organization called the Ku Klux Klan. The Klan secretly moved when there were bad things happened to white women, to avenge the insolence of the Yankees and free negroes. Atlanta women defended themselves not to ‘invite’ any insolent, so that the Klan didn’t need to act. It’s because it could be dangerous to the Klan, which were noone but their husbands, fathers, sons, or their brothers. Same reason that made them didn’t like Scarlett, because she made their gentlemen into dangerous position. Unexpectedly (or obviously) it happened, Scarlett was almost raped by a free negro because she drove alone at dangerous area when the sun had set. That night, the Klan acted, and apparently the Yankees had been predicted those reactions. The costs were very expensive, one of them was the life of Scarlett’s husband, Frank Kennedy. At the end of part 4, Rhett admitted his love for Scarlett and asked her to marry
him.

Part 4 also showed us the principle gap between Northerners and Southerners. While the Northerners fought to abolish the slavery, they still couldn’t accept negroes on equal level to themselves. In fact, according to Mitchell, black slaves in the south felt more comfortable with their previous lives, which were
regulated and handled by their white employers. The negroes who eventually chose to be free seemed just a nuisance to the stability of society, because they were not ready for it. They were trained to follow orders, then when they were released, they didn’t know what to do. They weren’t educated enough, I think that was the thing the Northerners didn’t predict (or didn’t care).

Since part 3, my judgment on Scarlett has begun to change. Similarly, in part 4, I could appreciate all the things she had done. Scarlett had experienced bad things—worst, in fact–because she did not have money, because she did not have food, and because she was almost homeless. She had been grown up in comfortable environment, and then when everything suddenly were taken away from her, she must adapt to survive. But unfortunately, the way she chose to survive couldn’t be accepted by the society at that time–even now.

By contrast, Ashley–who also had been grown up in comfortable environment–in the reconstruction time after war could not adjust himself. Everything he did couldn’t be any significant matters.

“But, Ashley, what are you afraid of?”
“Oh, nameless things. Things which sound very silly when they are put into words. Mostly of having life suddenly become too real, of being brought into personal, too personal, contact with some of the simple facts of life. It isn’t that I mind splitting logs here in the mud, but I do mind what it stands for. I do mind, very much, the loss of the beauty of the old life I loved. Scarlett, before the war, life was beautiful. There was a glamor to it, a perfection and a completeness and a symmetry to it like Grecian art. Maybe it wasn’t so to everyone. I know that now. But to me, living at Twelve Oaks, there was a real beauty to living. I belonged in that life. I was a part of it. And now it is gone and I am out of place in this new life, and I am afraid. Now, I know that in the old days it was a shadow show I watched. I avoided everything which was not shadowy, people and situations which were too real, too vital. I resented their intrusion. I tried to avoid you too, Scarlett. You were too full of living and too real and I was cowardly enough to prefer shadows and dreams.” (p.579-580 of Indonesian edition)

However, there were values ​​that had to be maintained by the society at that time. They did not want to be defeated morally, therefore the gentlemen who worked hard with modest incomes were satisfied enough of what they did. Their families didn’t feel the urge to demand more. That’s what distinguished Scarlett with the people around her. Scarlett knew how to get a lot of money, and she didn’t stop despite how it would harm any others. She had been at her lowest, and she didn’t want to experience it again, even just one second.

She could not ignore life. She had to live it and it was too brutal, too hostile, for her even to try to gloss over its harshness with a smile. Of the sweetness and courage and unyielding pride of her friends, Scarlett saw nothing. She saw only a silly stiffneckedness which observed facts but smiled and refused to look them in the face. (p.666 of Indonesian edition)

So, how should I judge Scarlett? Wait until I finished part 5, the last part.

One response to “[Part 4] Gone With The Wind – Reconstruction

  1. Pingback: Gone With The Wind – Margaret Mitchell « Bacaan B.Zee

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