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April 2011 BOTM: Gone with the Wind

A monthly discussion on varying themes guided by our members. (Book of the Month discussions through December 2011 can be found in this section too.)
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Ludmilla
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Post by Ludmilla » Fri April 15th, 2011, 1:40 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Uncle Peter, who had the shaping of his three white owners (remember Melly said he practically raised herself, her brother, and Aunt Pitty) did his level best to make them completely dependent on him. I wonder how much he had to do with forcing Pitty's brother off the scene.
[/quote]

Good observation. I wondered about that myself.

I meant to ask and forgot, but did anyone think Rhett's ward in New Orleans was Belle's son? I can't remember if the various clues in the latter part of the novel confirm that, but the thought did occur to me when the boy was first mentioned.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Fri April 15th, 2011, 3:25 pm

I haven't gotten to that part in this round of re-reads, but I always assumed it. the clues were laid on thick enough that even a teenager picked that one up.
Other hints about the boy's behavior came when Rhett commented that he preferred girls to boys at Bonnie's birth. And Belle gave plenty of hints herself.

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Michy
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Post by Michy » Fri April 15th, 2011, 8:16 pm

[quote=""MLE""]Uncle Peter, who had the shaping of his three white owners (remember Melly said he practically raised herself, her brother, and Aunt Pitty) did his level best to make them completely dependent on him. I wonder how much he had to do with forcing Pitty's brother off the scene. [/quote] I did pick up a sense of this in this in a scene I read last night -- where Peter came to Tara with the intention of taking Scarlett and Melanie back to Atlanta. Mammy tells him they are needed more at Tara, and doesn't Aunt Pitty have her brother Henry to help her? And Peter gave her a pretty withering look and response.


[quote=""Ludmilla""]I meant to ask and forgot, but did anyone think Rhett's ward in New Orleans was Belle's son? I can't remember if the various clues in the latter part of the novel confirm that, but the thought did occur to me when the boy was first mentioned.[/quote] I'm not there yet, and I have absolutely no recollection of this part of the story from previous reads. For all that I do remember with absolute clarity, it has surprised me how much I've forgotten. There is just so much detail in this book. Anyway, when I get there I'll let you know what I think.
And the women folded their feet under and wrapped them so that they could hardly walk.
I saw a picture once of the (unbound) feet of old Chinese women whose feet had been bound all their lives. It was so grotesque it almost made me lose my lunch.

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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Fri April 15th, 2011, 11:51 pm

anybody who sits around all day like the upper class depicted in GWTW did, people with many slaves to do all the work, and wears a corset that ruins her body on top of that, is going to be frailer than somebody who works hard all day.
Exactly. The same principle is in effect today, just in different ways. Women who wear high-heeled shoes with tiny, pointy toe-boxes deform their feet, too, if not nearly so much as with the Chinese foot-binding system. Same principle, though - it is considered more elegant and beautiful if a women dresses in a way that limits her strength and freedom of movement. People who sit around and watch TV all day aren't very strong, and in fact the U.S. military has had real problems finding recruits who are fit enough to serve, because of our junk food/couch potato culture. Oddly enough, some of the fitness vs. frailness status symbols are flipping these days, now that so many low-paid jobs involve sitting in cubicles all day. The wealthy find it easier to join fitness clubs and find time to work out than people working low-paid jobs.
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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sat April 16th, 2011, 1:01 am

[quote=""Margaret""]Oddly enough, some of the fitness vs. frailness status symbols are flipping these days, now that so many low-paid jobs involve sitting in cubicles all day. The wealthy find it easier to join fitness clubs and find time to work out than people working low-paid jobs.[/quote]
LOL! Also the idea that having untanned skin means you are wealthy. Now, it's having the tan that proves you have time to lie around doing nothing.

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Interest in HF: started in childhood with the classics, which, IMHO are HF even if they were contemporary when written.
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Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Sun April 17th, 2011, 2:27 pm

I'm reading through the reconstruction period now, and finding myself acutely uncomfortable at the discussion of "trashy free issue niggers" and the positive spin put on the KKK. This was always my least favorite part of the book. When Scarlett is 'stared at insolently' by blacks in Atlanta, I wonder how often those same people were stared at insolently of pushed off the street by whites. And as to the killings -- !

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Divia
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Post by Divia » Sun April 17th, 2011, 4:09 pm

Yeah, but whites were the ruling class, and now you have blacks being free. Some carrying guns! Sometimes they even out number you. What a scary thought for anyone who used to have the upper hand! I'm sure in the back of their minds they thought about Nat Turner and what he did. What could a group of them do now?

I'm not shocked the KKK was invented nor the positive spin on them. And entire social structure was destroyed and now the whites are scared, or nervous or downright pissed off. They need to protect what they had, or so they believe. They need to protect their rights and their women.

It must be hard when you are a white woman from the upper class and you could walk down the street without being leered at, now you have these people (whom you always believed were less than human) looking at you, not bowing their head or looking away. They stare at you with lust or hatred in their eyes. You were told they were animals, capable of anything, and now these animals are free, able to do whatever they wanted with you. So I can see how many white women were nervous and scared during Reconstruction. And not to mention you have Yankee soldiers walking around in charge!
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Margaret
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Post by Margaret » Sun April 17th, 2011, 7:37 pm

That part of the novel made me feel very uncomfortable as well. But it was probably one of the parts that was most enlightening for me, because it reflected something I had never thought about - why a lot of people supported the KKK. Fear that arises out of guilt can make people do terrible things. I read a book awhile back that explained the witch persecutions in this way. I'm afraid I don't recall the title or author, but it based its conclusions on a study of a particular witch persecution in France (detailed trial transcripts were available), in which the typical accusation involved a poor women who approached someone and begged for food or alms and was turned away with a refusal. The accuser (usually a woman) typically recalled the beggar looking at her in a certain way after being refused and interpreted it as the evil eye. The first bad thing that happened to her afterward was interpreted as being caused by the "witch" getting revenge for have been turned away empty-handed.
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Michy
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Post by Michy » Mon April 18th, 2011, 2:17 am

I am at this part as well, and while it is somewhat challenging to relate to the attitudes of the whites, I think Divia has articulated it pretty well. Rhett admits he killed a black man just for being "uppity" to a white woman. And he killed a Yankee, too. And then there were the Scallawags who were trying to move in and confiscate the property of the former landed class. Southern society was definitely a seething cauldron during this time.

What's puzzling to me, though, is how Mammy could call other blacks "free issue niggers." I can understand why she and others in her caste may have chosen to stay with their white folks as servants rather than seek a life on their own, but I don't quite understand how or why they would despise other black people who chose freedom. Unless it was because the free issue "trash" consisted mainly of field slaves and those lower in the former caste system - ?

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Favourite HF book: Prince of Foxes, by Samuel Shellabarger
Preferred HF: Currently prefer 1600 and earlier, but I'll read anything that keeps me turning the page.
Location: California Bay Area

Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Mon April 18th, 2011, 2:21 am

Michy, it's just human nature to denigrate people who have made choices directly opposite your own. Especially when their choices threaten the future you envision for yourself.

Sort of like liberals and conservatives. Actually, Mammy is nicer to the 'free-issue niggers' who threaten her way of life that most political enemies are to each other in our own time.

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