I am continuing to enjoy Erin Blakemore’s readalong. It’s been so long since I’ve read this book that I’m finding all of these delightful details that I’d forgotten or have mixed together because of the movie.
Part II contained the scene at the Atlanta Bazaar where Rhett gets Scarlett, a young widow in mourning – but not really, out on the dance floor and enjoying life once again. The interaction between these two there is nothing short of delightful. As if that weren’t fun enough, you’ve got the old guard women in the background judging every wink and nod. There’s a war going on not all that far away and these women have no more important concerns than gossiping about the social behavior of a very young woman whose husband was dead within three months of their marriage. I suppose you could consider Rhett a bad influence. The more Scarlett entertains him the further away she moves from her upbringing. Her upbringing wasn’t something she ever took to heart, though. For her, it was pure artifice. Life is too short to live confined within convention when it is meaningless to you. It’s better to be true to yourself.
Part III is all about the war as it heads to, through and from Atlanta. Scarlett realizes that before she is forced to flee Atlanta with a woman who is deathly ill from having just given birth to a child her body wasn’t meant to bare that she was playacting at being an adult. When the full weight of responsibility of Tara and its operations falls on her shoulders, she understands true burden. What stood out to me the most in this section was that while Scarlett becomes capable of running what’s left of Tara and even protecting the lives and property of all who live there, there is still immaturity there. She finds that the Fontaines still have their home because they lived far enough off of the main road that the Yankees didn’t find them. When Scarlett visits them, she doesn’t want to mention that her mother had passed or that her father had lost his mind in his grief. She doesn’t want to cry in front of Mrs. Fontaine. What she never grasps about Mrs. Fontaine is that she’s not harsh unnecessarily. She has a great deal of wisdom to impart if only Scarlett was open to it. Her story about the tragedy with her family was an incredible story. She was giving Scarlett a great gift by telling her about this. The fact that she bothered to tell Scarlett at all was a high honor. It was lost on her, though. She didn’t see how there was any connection to the here and now so she tuned the woman out. I wanted to shake Scarlett by the shoulders in frustration. Ah well, I love her anyway.
At the end of Part III we’re about half way through the book. Reconstruction and all of its complexities are coming next.