And we’re back! Welcome to all things ‘Gone with the Wind’! Well, just the plot and setting this time. If you want to know my thoughts on the characters, you can find it here.
What I really enjoyed about this book (and why it has snuck its way into the top books of 2022), was the setting. ‘Gone with the Wind’ is set during the Civil War and the Reconstruction era. While it isn’t a book about the way persay, it is about the effect the war had on the south, and what happened afterwards.
Through Scarlett O’Hara’s eyes we see the worst of the Civil War, the soldiers without shoes because the Confederacy can’t make it through the blockade to get them some. The soldiers without food during the last half of the war because the government can’t afford the give them food. The women and children left behind wondering where their next meal is coming from.
The Confederacy was a country under siege, watching as the best and brightest among them were killed off one by one. Most of Scarlett’s beaus in the beginning of the book die on the front lines or with camp fever, including her first husband. Every family loses a son, father, or husband. Some women lose all of them.
It opened my eyes to the horror of war, and most especially the Civil War. I won’t argue with the people who say it should have been fought. But war, no matter why it was fought, has a terrible price on everyone involved.
Now, the book does not go into any details about the politics of the war and what decision the leaders made and all that. This was from Scarlett’s point of view, and she didn’t care about any of that unless it had a direct impact upon her ability to put food on the table. As such, she resented the war because it brought shortages, hated the Union soldiers because they killed her friends, and despised the Reconstruction because it made her business harder to maintain. But she didn’t try to understand why there were shortages, Union and Confederate soldiers, or a Reconstruction. They got in her way, so she didn’t like them.
Because of the narrator, I didn’t take everything told in the book to heart. Heh.
However, it was interesting to see what the Reconstruction was like from a southern point of view. It was an era glossed over in my history books, mentioned a few times and then on to the next bit of history. ‘Gone with the Wind’ is a snap shot of what happened during the Reconstruction to the people who had survived the war, survived their homes being burned and their food taken for soldiers, and now had to survive a Union government who hated the South as much as the South hated them.
It isn’t a pretty picture. Basically, the Union, or the American government, treated the South like a conquered country. Including less to no rights for the conquered people. A good portion of whom were widows and orphans.
I don’t agree with the Southern culture before the war. It was built on the backs of slaves, and it needed to end. But I wonder what would have happened if our government had been a little gentler with the South after the war. Treated them more like long lost friends than a conquered country. Would we have avoided some of the tension we still feel today? I don’t know. It is food for thought, and books that make me think are my favorite.
Phew! Thanks for bearing with me through that! I hope you enjoyed this rather long book review.