Rhett Butler doesn't give a damn, but oh, I do

I’ve just finished Gone With the Wind and I can’t handle my emotions. So, I thought I’d like to talk about it here, with all y’all. First of all, I knew the ending already but that didn’t keep me from sobbing like a thing possessed. My heart broke when Bonnie died, when Scarlett miscarried, when Rhett wasted away. But the ending took the wind from my body, as I was expecting it to. I cheered for Scarlett when she finally realized her love for Melanie and lost her love for Ashley. For me, Scarlett’s ability to love and her selfish honesty were the best things about her, complicated creature she is. I admired her so much, but at the end, I really couldn’t blame Rhett for this:

“But, Scarlett, did it ever occur to you that even the most deathless love could wear out?”

She looked at him speechless, her mouth a round O.

“Mine wore out,” he went on, “against Ashley Wilkes and your insane obstinacy that makes you hold on like a bulldog to anything you think you want…Mine wore out.”

“But love can’t wear out!”

gone with the windThe thing is, I need closure. The romantic in me wants desperately to believe Scarlett “wins him back” but the practical side of me knows it isn’t likely. But—I can’t live with that because I know Scarlett won’t live with that, and I know her too well to think she won’t try to get him back, and I love her too well to imagine her wasting away for love of him. Rhett is as good as his word. He doesn’t love Scarlett anymore. She wore him out.

Rhett changed. Scarlett has to change as well. As always when the ending of a book has me fit to wring the author’s neck, I have to find a way to finish the story, as the author would have if she weren’t the devil incarnate (yes, Mitchell, I’m looking at you). In my head, I think the story continues like this:

Scarlett undoubtedly schemes to get Rhett back but it doesn’t work. I think she finds strength with Beau and in taking care of the loose baggage that is Ashley Wilkes. I think, after years alone, I think she becomes more like Melanie. I dare to dream she imbibes a little of Melanie’s stalwart goodness, mixing it with her own O’Hara obstinacy. I think she grows up and sheds her childish greed, or maybe just a teeny ounce of it. Scarlett truly lost everything when she lost Rhett. I think that changes a person.

I dare to dream that after years, Rhett Butler comes back to Atlanta with his New Orleans son, a different man. I dare to dream they meet again. And even if Rhett doesn’t believe in clean slates, I do.

“After all, tomorrow is another day.”

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  • I read this under the covers with a flashlight (and cried under the covers) when I was a teenager and then promptly and stupidly read the so-called sequel, Scarlett. Do yourself a favor and don’t read the sequel. It’s highly disappointing after such an amazing piece of literature to read something so poorly written. I wish someone else had been chosen to write the sequel. Apparently, the Mitchell estate felt the same way and were fairly embarrassed by it. It only sold so well because poor dupes like me snatched it up the minute it was off the presses, hoping that it was going to be as wonderful as the original. It would be nice if they would find an appropriate writer and try a sequel again, but I’m guessing they won’t.

    • Ugh, the sequel. I read about it and then quickly discredited it. The only sequel I need is in my own stubborn, sentimental head 🙂

  • Rebecca

    This is my favorite book! Actually there is a sequel. It isn’t written by Margaret Mitchell, but it does provide some happy closure and was a fun and great read. It’s called Scarlett if you are ever interested!