When I was thirteen years old and on a family trip to Disney World, we pulled over at a Wal-Mart and my mom bought this book for me. At first, as most people are, I was startled by how long it was and then I really looked at the cover. It was that classic picture of Scarlett and Rhett locked in an embrace as Atlanta burns behind them, and I will admit I judged the book by its cover. At thirteen it was the most risqué cover I had seen and I couldn’t believe my mom was going to let me read it. I was excited and then I read the first line. Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm,” I was hooked. And then somewhere between Louisiana and Florida I fell in love with the novel.
Scarlett O’Hara will stand out through time as one of the greatest characters of all time. Scarlett is childish and vivacious and catty and alive and strong. I know that she isn’t what most people would consider a great female role model. She marries men when she’s in love with someone else. She lusts after men. She doesn’t follow society’s rules. But she’s strong and determined. In a world where girls are reading about depressing teenagers trying to decide between simpering vampires and petulant werewolves, give me a flawed woman with strength of character to do what she wants and keep her family afloat any day.
Margaret Mitchell writes characters that are so human that they seem like people that you run into every day but that are so memorable that they stick with you forever. When you read it pay attention to the dynamic between Mellie and Scarlett; watch how the characteristics that they see in each other are really the characteristics they themselves have, both good and bad.
As I got older and read it over and over again I noticed nuances in the literature that I missed the reading before. I still have that copy I got when I was thirteen years old. The cover that captivated me has long since disappeared and been replaced with a title page covered in clear packaging tape and I’ve started underlining lines that I love. It is one of the most amazing stories that I’ve read.
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