January 19, 2012

The Gone With The Wind Reading Journal Entries

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These entries are copy+pasted lifted right from the Reading Buddy threads over at Goodreads. This is the fourth time (The Handmaid's Tale, A Passage To India, The Grapes of Wrath) I've participated in a reading buddy arrangement (or a read-along, as other book bloggers/readers would call it). I don't actually know what happens to the threads when the discussions are over, but when my attention was called to the fact that some threads are being deleted (without notification), I decided to save this one last thread that I found (in which I participated) by cross-posting my entries over here. These are, after all, my thoughts on the book. I think I would want to save them.
This is also the third time I teamed up with the best reading buddy in the world, Angus. I love ya, buddy. ;)

Day 1: Chapters 1 & 2

The first two chapters are descriptions of people: Scarlett, the Tarleton twins, Scarlett's father. Scarlett is heartbroken at the news that Ashley will wed Melanie, and Scarlett declares that she loves Ashley, and that the latter is supposed to be in love with her.

My impression of Scarlett O'Hara is that she is a flighty, finicky and self-absorbed girl, as evident from the fact that she wants all of the young men in their Georgia town to be in love with her. She is beautiful, and she knows it, and she will use that beauty to get what she wants.


Day 2: Chapters 3, 4, 5

GERALD O'HARA: is a person to be admired. He's a self-made man, with just the tiniest stroke of luck to help him start out. It's so easy to understand where he's coming from, and why his character and attitude towards his family and peers is a certain way.

ELLEN O'HARA: is likewise a person to be admired, but in a completely different way. Like you said, she's classy, and totally headstrong. She can be a loving mother to her kids, attending to their needs, and although I find the "Mr. O'Hara" and "Mrs. O'Hara" thing as too formal for my taste, it is clear that she respects her husband, which the latter finds enough.

SCARLETT O'HARA: is getting on my nerves. She is the personification of my favorite quote from Al Pacino's and Keanu Reeves' late '90s movie, "The Devil's Advocate", which goes: Vanity is my favorite sin. She harps on and on about Ashley, and yet she wants all the guys to pine after her!

I understand her determination to go on and tell Ashley how she feels, as she thought that the reason why the latter was marrying Melanie was because he didn't know she, Scarlett, loved him. But this begs the question: does she really know what she wants?

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Day 3: Chapters 6 & 7

Oh, Scarlett, you are so irritating and annoying, and yet at the end of Chapter 6, I wanted to laugh out loud!

Miss Vanity. You consider every man a proper conquest, with no regard to other women's feelings (ratiocinating to yourself, crookedly, that they probably didn't deserve these men if they couldn't hold on to them properly) even if they are engaged.

Serves you right that Ashley didn't fall for your charms. Hah!

And then, your poor spare tire, Charles, goes flat. I think you didn't deserve the poor guy; better for him to be dead.

And I don't want to say this, but: serves you right!! *evil laugh*

I think I'm getting a pretty good idea of how the relationship between Scarlett and Rhett will turn out. Let's see.

Start of Part 2~
Day 4: Chapters 8 & 9

I wish I could find it in my heart to take pity on Scarlett, having gone from every man's darling to wife to widow and mother in the span of less than a year, but I couldn't. She is such an annoying, unthinking girl, and I could only think that she deserves what she gets.

Her experiences however haven't changed her a bit: she is still the coquettish airhead that she portrayed from the very beginning. She has no regard for proprieties, the reputation of her parents and their social standing, and only cared about herself. A selfish brat!

Which is why I loved how Rhett Butler made fun of her during the social. I loved how Rhett can see right through her, predicted her every retort and reaction, and baited her, for which she fell hook, line and sinker. Oh, this is going to be one very interesting book I'm sure!

Day 5: 10, 11, 12

Ang sarap sabunutan ni Scarlett!!!!! Pardon my overuse of the exclamation point, but I couldn't stress my point just enough. She represents everything that I don't like about a person: selfish, materialistic, imprudent, spoiled brat!

Rhett is portrayed as a "bad boy", but it's obvious to me that he's just hamming it up, doing things on purpose, inviting trouble. I like him very much because to me, the "bad boy" image feels like a front; there's so much more to him than the tough exterior. Remember how he treats Melanie differently than all the other women in their circle (to which the stupid and vain Scarlett retorted, why, when she's so much prettier than Melanie anyway??)? It's because when it comes down to it, Rhett actually knows how to appreciate people, and their good deeds, too. (Remember how Melanie readily gave up her wedding ring because she thought Scarlett gave hers away despite her, uh, love for Charles?) Besides, I love a man who is deep like that. :P

The narrative on the wars and the Confederacy is getting really boring, so I will be honest and say that I merely endure them. How about you Angus? Enjoying the war aspect so far? :)

Day 6: Chapters 13, 14, 15, 16

Is it just me, or is the book getting just a tad too boring with all the war talk? Although, for what it's worth, I quite agree that there is nothing to be gained, and everything to lose, in war. I am also pleasantly surprised to learn that the Battle of Gettysburg that I've only been hearing remotely from other books is actually a part of this particular civil war.

The highlights of the book for me, so far, are the exchanges between Rhett and Scarlett: the former with his sarcastic, witty, and dry comments, and the latter with her stupid remarks, so transparent and predictable that anyone with a hare brain can see right through them. How can anyone be so shallow as to be bought by a bonnet, no matter how expensive or stylish it may be, disregarding all the proprieties that her own mother has attempted to instill in her?

Rhett had a point when he said that it was he who motivated Scarlett to do everything that she was just dying to do, but restrained by the dictates of society. Personally, I wouldn't want to be prevailed upon by anyone, if I want to do something. But I also try to be prudent in my decisions - something that Scarlett doesn't appear to have imbibed from her mother.

HALIPAROT! Kissing a married man, and with all malice, too, she cannot deny that. I don't know what to say anymore about Scarlett. She is just too much for me.

I agree with you; that part where the prostitute gave some gold coins to Melanie was indeed very touching. But I couldn't help but think if Rhett, whose handkerchief was used to bundle the coins, gave the money to the prostitute on purpose, knowing that the kerchief would somehow find its way to Scarlett's attention. An attempt to elicit jealousy, perhaps? :)

Day 7: Chapters 17 & 18

With all the details of the civil war, I am beginning to think that this novel is actually more of a memoir/history book than a romance, that it's more a reference book with a fictional love story just to spice things up a bit. Haha. But that's not a bad thing, is it? :)

Rhett represents the hard, bitter pill to swallow that are the repercussions of war. His occasional tiff and display of sarcasm towards Scarlett are but a side show to enjoy.

And yes, Scarlett still hasn't changed. Always the girl with the ulterior motives, always the girl who puts her own welfare over and way beyond any other's. Nakakaloka sya, ha.

Unfortunately, I haven't read War and Peace yet, so I can't make the same observations that you have. Although from a more general point of view, aren't all war stories the same? Don't they follow a particular formulae?

Oh, and Thermopylae - Scarlett drawing a blank, that was the highlight of these two chapters! :D

Day 08: 19, 20, 21, 22

And then there's more fighting, more lives wasted, for a senseless war.

Oh, I pity little Wade! Between an uncaring mother in Scarlett and the war on their heels, what else can go wrong?

It breaks my heart to read about how many lives were turned upside down – yes, even our bruhilda of a heroine, Scarlett – because of the war, lives that will be scarred for life and will never be the same, ever.

But then, a mistress....! Oh, little presumptuous Scarlett, to have her thoughts read like a book, and whose ego took a beating with Rhett's hilarious proposal.... to be his mistress! Serves her right! :D

For all of Scarlett's impertinences, I hope that nothing bad will happen to Ellen, Gerald, and the rest of the O'Haras, and to Tara, as well, now that the war is getting too close for comfort.

The Yankees are coming! And oh, a baby for Melanie. Somehow, I find something symbolic in the war and the birth of a baby.

Day 09: 23, 24

Reading these 2 chapters was heartbreaking. The desolation, picking up the pieces of what the war had shattered. But, for what it was worth, credit must be given to Scarlett for the things she'd done for Melanie and the baby. For all the effects of the war, there is just one teeny good thing that came out of it: it made a woman out of Scarlett.

Of course, there's still the underlying reason for her good deeds. After all, she wouldn't have nursed and taken care of Melanie if it were not for Ashley. But, I will no longer dwell on the ulterior motive - even if Scarlett merely did all those things because she was left with no choice, she still did it, and that's what matters.

Oh, and the darkies remind me too much of the help at home. Ingrates!

And Rhett, why has he gone to join the war?? Now I'm beginning to see how the title fits into the story. :)

Day 10: 25, 26, 27

Yes, Scarlett is definitely growing up and maturing. The war may have forced her to, but it's a good thing nonetheless. And she may have been compelled under the circumstances to murder a Yankee, but that's just it: she was compelled, in defense of the only people and things left for her.

I am also starting to appreciate that she appreciates Melanie now, for the woman that the latter is. There may be the vestiges of her ulterior motive that is Ashley, but again, the war can truly make people do and feel things they won't feel under normal circumstances. The war has truly changed Scarlett.

The book is beginning to get depressing, with all the talk of death, hunger, war, Gerald's getting cuckoo, etc etc. I understand where Scarlett is coming from, when she over-stresses her authority at Tara and says things that may no longer be necessary. I take it as part of Scarlett's getting matured.

Where could Rhett be? I wonder what happened to him.

Day 11: 28, 29, 30

The war is over, thankfully. This gives our characters a sliver of hope for the future, but times are still difficult.

Scarlett has taken up the cudgels of the mistress of the house, and she has truly matured a lot since helping Melanie give birth until their arrival at Tara. One of the better effects of the war?

Will Benteen is one interesting character. Just when I think that he's just a bland war survivor, he goes and voices out what Scarlett ought to hear: duh, Ashley is Melanie's husband, ain't he?

Day 12: 31, 32, 33

I quite agree with your observation that this is the height of Scarlett's coquetry. Just when I think she's gotten so much better, here she comes again with the usual airhead-y, talandi ways that are just so her. Oh Scarlett. How I love hating you!

And Ashley, my goodness. Pumatol na si Pogi! For all his declarations of loyalty to Melanie, he'd end up thinking with his balls rather than his brains.

I hope the O'Haras won't lose Tara. That would be the saddest thing, especially since it's all they've got left after the war. I don't know exactly what to think about Scarlett's decision to marry Rhett just to save Tara, but I would like to think it honorable of her to do so. (I have to think so, otherwise there would be no redeeming factor for Scarlett, at all. Haha.)

That scene with Slatterys, though, I completely cheered on Scarlett, hehe. I would do exactly the same thing if I were her. :)

Day 13: 34, 35

Oh, desperate times call for desperate moves! And Scarlett is no exception to this. Although I pity her, in that she had to swallow her pride and force herself to endure Rhett's cruel words, I thought that she deserved it.

But then, for some reason, when Rhett refused to loan give her the money even after she grovelled and offered herself to him as "collateral", I thought that there should have been a point when it should have been enough. Maawa ba kay Scarlett?? Haha!

And then all traces of pity vanished - POOF! - when she attempted to steal Frank, the fiance of her very own sister Suellen. I mean, just how low can you go?? Has she no dignity left in her? And then she justifies her actions by thinking that Suellen doesn't deserve Frank, that her sister was stupid anyway. My goodness. Scarlett is one heroine that I just love to hate!

Day 14: 36, 37

These chapters added more to my dislike for Scarlett. Well, she proceeds to marry Frank, disregarding Suellen and all for the sake of Tara, but the way in which she manipulated Frank into marrying her was just disgusting. The guy, on the other hand, couldn't decipher Scarlett's true intentions for what they were. So, I don't know which one is more disgusting: Scarlett for her manipulative, insensitive, selfish, and deceptive actions, or Frank for falling for them hook, line and sinker.

I just love how Rhett always manages to stump Scarlett by voicing out exactly what the latter thinks and feels! That's why Scarlett is always mad at Rhett: he knows perfectly how her mind operates, and she can't deny it. For this reason, I am a huge, huge fan of Rhett. Hehe.

Can poverty and Scarlett's experiences during the war really cause a person to crave for nothing else but money? Because some people are content, happy with whatever they have. In Scarlett's case, she justifies all her decisions by ratiocinating that she experienced so much poverty during the war - plowing the fields, bereft of shoes or sandals with which to cover her feet, rationing whatever food they had to feed several mouths, etc. - all of which she never wanted to experience again. That's quite understandable, but to sacrifice each and every principle that has ever been inculcated in you (if any) for money??? What's your opinion on this, Angus? :)

Scarlett's concern over the goings-on in Tara is still mainly focused on one person: Ashley, who, in Rhett's words, obviously did not love Scarlett as he claimed to be. (In this regard, I completely agree with Rhett, and have come to hate Ashley, too. Haha.) And the woman is pregnant again! Well. Considering that she is a married woman, I don't think there's a problem with that.

The upheavals and issues with the blacks have begun. Since this is the late 1900s, I am not at all shocked, but actually thankful that that part of history is over.

Day 16: 40, 41

Next to Rhett, Will would have to be my next favorite character. He is a strong, level-headed and smart person, and Scarlett should be grateful - as she was - to him for everything he did for Tara. I don't see anything wrong with him marrying Suellen. If their future children would be anything like him, then I'd say Suellen is truly blessed.

On the Ashley-Scarlett part: frankly, their "affair" is getting too old, and I'm getting tired of it. Scarlett is a bimbo - come on, girl, you're heavy with child, and you're still flirting and enticing another man with a job offer - oh, a co-owner offer pala! - just so you could be near him? Nakakainis na talaga. Hmpf.

Melanie is so full of good intentions and so equally clueless about Scarlett's real motive behind offering Ashley one of the sawmills, I don't know whether to pity her or be miffed at her. But I love that she came to shine on her own when they got back to Atlanta; she deserves it.

I am hoping to read more of Rhett in the next chapters, though.

Day 17: 42, 43, 44

Poor Ella Lorena, having Scarlett for a mother.

Another very witty and sarcastic conversation between Rhett and Scarlett, in which the former simply trumps the latter. Rhett's arguments about Ashley, on why he pities Ashley (because he should already be dead!) and why he was so resentful knowing that Scarlett has taken Ashley under her employ are all very well taken. Scarlett is just too stupid and too in love - can she be really??? - with Ashley that she fails to see him for what he's worth - or not.

On the other hand, there's a chapter where Rhett reveals more about his personal life to Scarlett, shedding light on why he is what he is. And there's another part - I forget which one - where Scarlett once more showed how stupid and tonta she is. Ah, these are the chapters I love most in the novel! She wasn't even remotely aware of what Amendment has been the subject of the negroes' upheavals!

Finally, Scarlett's greed for money has taken a new low: "leasing" convicts to work in the sawmills. Plus, the fact that she had already discovered the brutalities of Johnnie, and yet, she was merely going to shave off $20 from his salary for having stolen and sold the supplies, shows just how selfish she is. If you ask me, she's more cruel to those men than Johnnie.

I couldn't stop smiling every time I read about Archie, the white ex-con whom Melanie sent to Scarlett and who later became her and several other ladies' chauffeur. It's because Archie is my husband's name too. Haha. :)

Day 18: 45, 46, 47

I can't believe how, during those times, the Ku Klux Klan would be made up of respectable Southerners such as Ashley, Frank, Dr. Meade, and their contemporaries. The Klan still exists to this day, and although times have since changed, their anti-negro activities have not.

As I was reading the part where Scarlett grew a conscience was having a beating from her conscience (*gasp* I didn't even know she had one!) and was having a drinking session by her lonesome, I couldn't help but feel that she deserved to be condemned by everyone. For, it cannot be denied that it was she who might as well have had Ashley shot and Frank killed - Frank, whose only fault was that he had too much good faith for his own good. Yes, Scarlett did everything herself, inadvertently or otherwise.

So, Rhett becomes Husband #3. But despite his declarations to the contrary, I think Rhett does love Scarlett, and he merely endlessly torments her as defense mechanism, knowing somebody else owns (supposedly) Scarlett's heart. He just loves Scarlett that much that he's asking her to marry him despite knowing that his feelings aren't reciprocated. And if I'm right that Rhett really loves Scarlett, then it is the purest love of all, for the simple reason that he loves her despite whatever and whoever she is, was, or will turn out to be.

Day 19: 48, 49, 50, 51

Rhett's image just upped a notch in these chapters, for me. I always admire a man who is devoted and who adores his children, especially those who know how to handle their quirks - in Rhett's case, when Wade had been asking about his mother and if Rhett truly meant what he said when he was Rhett's "son". That was so very touching, my heart melted. :)

Evidently, Scarlett married Rhett only for his money, as can be seen in the way she spent it left and right. But Rhett, despite the way he's been acting, is in love with Scarlett. I'm almost sure of it, despite what he said about taking care of his "investment" in the person of Scarlett.

Trouble in paradise so soon? Why can't Scarlett just wake up from her schoolgirl infatuation over Ashley? Hay naku. Magsama kayong dalawa.

Day 20: 52, 53, 54

Finally, Scarlett took a whipping from Rhett because of her Ashley-infatuation. Apart from Rhett being a model father to Bonnie and stepfather to Wade, he has shown the indiscreet Scarlett the error of her ways. Yes, he used cruel words and insulted her terribly, but, again, Scarlett deserved no less. And even if the uncompromising position in which she and Ashley had been found by India and Archie was no more than they thought it was, I thought that Scarlett had it a long time coming. Finally, her coquettish ways have boomeranged on her.

I think I can understand where Rhett is coming from. He's using harsh words and insults to make Scarlett feel his fury, jealousy, and yes, even pain. And I hope that before the book ends, Scarlett realizes how fortunate she has been and make amends with Rhett.

Day 21: 55, 56, 57, 58

I hate Scarlett, but not to the point when she had to have an accident, sustain broken ribs and suffer a miscarriage. Not even Scarlett deserved that. On the other hand, I still couldn't bring myself to blame Rhett for what happened. He had all the right in the world to be angry at his wife, and it was just in his constitution to utter hateful things to make Scarlett feel his wrath. Or maybe I just like Rhett's character too much? Haha. :)

The decision for Scarlett to spend some time in Tara to recover was a good idea. I had hoped that when she came back, fully recuperated, her relationship with Rhett would change, but I guess that's too much to ask for.

Ashley's refusal to use the convicts for the mills is the only thing about him that bears my stamp of approval. And Scarlett's insistence that she's happy with her money – money earned from convict labor – only goes to show that she only cares about material things and proves how shallow she is. Why, didn't she marry Rhett for his money and the security that it offered?

Rhett and Bonnie are a wonderful pair. Scarlett ought to be jealous. I couldn't even fathom why Scarlett, being the mother, isn't as close to her daughter as is expected, or normal. Scarlett has so much to learn about life, and it doesn't look like the war has made her any better!

Day 22: 59, 60, 61, 62, 63

I feel for Rhett. If I were in his place, I'd certainly lose my mind! Having to bury a child is something I do not want to experience, ever.

Scarlett still feels so detached from everything. Is she really Bonnie's mother? I've finished reading the book, and in hindsight, the only redeeming factor of Scarlett's that I could think of was the part when she helped a sick Melanie and a newborn Beau get home to Tara in the heat of the war. Oh, but even that was tainted with a hidden agenda - Scarlett did it all for Ashley, and not out of the goodness of her heart.

My heart breaks more for Rhett than for Scarlett - imagine having a wife for all those years but not really having her. You know? It's like what they always say, so close and yet so far. How can Rhett truly own Scarlett when she is still so infatuated with Ashley, so she fails to see how much Rhett truly loved her? And when that love fizzled out, as it did, she had no one to blame but herself.

I loved the ending! It was not what I expected, but I loved it nonetheless. I want to pity Scarlett, but I can't. She brought everything upon herself.

And Melanie, I admire the woman.

2 comments:

angus25 said...

I'd definitely revisit this post from time to time. More good books to read and to buddy read! :)

Monique said...

Hi Angus! I copied only my entries and left yours out. I thought you might have your own, um, strategy on how to preserve them. :)

Cheers to more book buddy reads!