[quote=""Margaret""]Interesting. Now that I reflect on it, she never seemed to offer much love to any of her children, and they all turned out to be self-centered. Suellen, for example, was every bit as selfish as Scarlett without the intelligence or creativity that gave Scarlett the capacity to grow (a little bit, anyway). Scarlett's father may have been a self-indulgent "Peter Pan" type, but he could be quite affectionate, especially with Scarlett. Although Ellen always behaved graciously, her disdain for him came across quite clearly. The relationship between her parents may have contributed to Scarlett's sense of shame at not being more like her mother. Scarlett and her father both had a spontaneous approach to life and a zest for action, qualities I found appealing in them, but which Ellen did not appreciate.[/quote] I totally agree. And although I didn't mention it in my earlier remarks, you bring up another aspect of Ellen which I certainly picked up on and which shaped my lukewarmness towards her. That is, I felt she always looked down on Gerald O'Hara (I don't mean physically, although she did that, too
) and didn't appreciate the life he had made for her; nor did she value his adoration.
[quote=""Ludmilla""]As Scarlett later realized, Melanie was good in a crisis. I didn't consider her weak, [/quote]
I never considered Melanie weak, either; in fact, I think she was the perfect example of a true "steel magnolia": soft, gentle and pliable on the outside, but with a strong steel core that only emerged in times of deepest crisis. Melanie's ability to always put a good spin on others' behavior was something I always envied and admired, because most of the time I am not wired that way. I don't think it was delusional or Pollyanna-ish; I think she was just a deeply good person, raised in a gentle and loving environment, and so she transferred that onto other people. Her finest moment, to me, was when she reached out to Scarlett at Ashley's birthday party.
I have many times encountered people who put a more positive spin on my words or actions than what I was actually feeling inside when I said or did it, and I have always found such a response humbling; it makes me want to be that more positive person. Perhaps this is what Melanie was doing, either consciously or subconsciously.
[quote=""Ash""]Great discussion here! I always liked Ellen, thought she was involved with her daughters. The fact that Scarlett often thinks back to her says that she made an influence on her, even if Ellen would have been appalled by some of the decisions Scarlett made.
[/quote] I think Scarlett's admiration of her mother was more that of adoration of a plaster saint or an unattainable paragon, than love of a flesh-and-blood mother. If Ellen hadn't been so distant and detached, she probably would have realized that Scarlett's ladylike-ness was just a thin veneer.
I admit, though, that my reaction to both Gerald and Ellen are strongly colored by my own life experiences, much more so than my reaction to any of the other characters.
Someone else mentioned (I forgot to add it to my quotes) that they disliked the depiction of happy, contented slaves in GWTW; I think this is a fairly common characteristic of pre-Civil Rights fiction, especially if it is set in the South or written from a Southern point of view. There is even a passage in Anya Seton's My Theodosia
that is cringeworthy; not because it talks about happy slaves, but just the way she describes the physical appearance of the slaves.