Sunday, April 12, 2009

Swept away by a storm (My alternate title)

When I was mentally planning my trip to Australia, one of my top priorities was reading.

I love to read. I find that since I've become very involved in the Status community, my reading somewhat decreased due that increase in my social life. Therefore, I made a vow to myself to read unceasingly on this trip, when time was plentiful and books many.

I've failed. Miserably. I find that spare time is spent online (when available) or chatting with M, W, or both. A bonus is that some of that time has been followed up with discipline in my Spirituality. But I have only completed 1 book since I left the States (for those of you who care, it was Angels & Demons, which I was re-reading before the movie came out.)

Despite all of this, I recently picked up the 1000+ page book, Gone with the Wind, which I lovingly stole from my mom when I was in Georgia this winter. My mom is an English teacher who has thousands of books, so it would be years (or never) before she realized it was gone. I must add that any time I read a book she owns (that she has found time to read), I learn much from it due to her markings, scribblings, and highlighting. Enlightenment.

I'm about 1/3 of the way through this book. Disclaimer: for those of you who haven't read it and want to read it, you might not want to continue. I have many thoughts on it which might give away plot points.

I've just arrived at the point in the book where Scarlett has arrived back home at Tara, following her departure from Atlanta, which was under attack by the Yankees. She has only just been told that her mother is dead and that Tara was spared, but desolated, by the Yankee army.

This book fascinates me, while depressing me thoroughly.

I grew up in the Atlanta area - the deep South. I understand the Southern sense of pride, their attitude towards the war in general, their attitude towards the North in general, etc. Particularly the older generations, of which my grandparents were part.

I suppose that I should feel more appalled at the situation that the South found itself in; however, this novel is not designed to question the morality of slavery.

Well, at least not by page 400, which is where I'm at.

I have been wrecked by the significant, massive separation of my world and the world of the late 19th century, the Civil War world.

First, the South was ablaze with tradition, politeness, and what many would call ignorance. They wouldn't tell women truths much of the time, for fear that women couldn't (physically, mentally) handle the truth. Women were not allowed to show their bosom before 3 pm. Women in mourning were not allowed to go to parties, or to dance, or to see other men, for many years after the death of their husband. It was shameful for a woman to talk about being pregnant with a man other than her husband.

These traditions seem ludicrous in this liberal world in which we live. White Lies? Separation and Hierarchy? And yet, there is so much history in these ideas. Misguided, ignorant, maybe, but history and reality nonetheless.

Second, I am astounded at the South's pride. Mind you, I've told you that I grew up amongst people who were very prideful of their heritage. Georgia's state flag has incorporated, and still proudly displays, the Confederate Flag. But the sense that the author would write "One confederate soldier is worth 12 Yankees!" is outrageous. They were confident without much reason, as far as I can see. I will never forget my grandmother telling me that her great grandmother believed the war would quickly be over, with a Southern victory easily at hand.

This very reason is that I adore Rhett Butler's entrance into the era before the War began. His character isn't concerned with what society thinks of him, but instead is set upon wreaking havoc (polite havoc?) amongst these haughty and intolerant, yet beautiful and family-oriented Southerners. Rhett loves Scarlett because he sees a bit of his rebellious nature in her, and he works endlessly to bring these qualities from the confines of her subconscious into the reality of her culture.

And yet, I must interject here that the personalities and the characters - feeling as though I'm their friend, or at least an associate - their ideas, their misguided notions, their methods of thinking - they all give me a more sympathetic and understanding insight into this world which I was once so quick to logically write off.

Thirdly, I am incredibly frustrated by the senseless death that this war brought about. The conditions of a 19th century war are so far removed from modern wars. The same can be said even for WWII, but the vast difference in the methods of strategy is blatantly evident. I must confess that I am a bit ignorant myself about the real reasons that the North was adamant about keeping the South as part of this nation - I do intend to do follow up research on this very topic. However, both sides appear to have been so very quick to jump into a battle, to believe in their own rights, their own superiority. And this stupidity on both parts frustrates me.

I believe the largest American death toll of any war is the Civil War - some 600,000+. While in one sense, this is logical (being that we were fighting both sides of the war), in another it's completely ridiculous. The statement of brothers fighting brothers and neighbors fighting neighbors is 100% grounded in reality.

That is shocking and disturbing.

There are many other things that strike me about the war, the environment, etc just from reading this book; these are the main ideas at this time. I continue to be depressed as I read about this young girl's journey before, through and after the war. It's a heavy topic, a real topic that can't be waved away by the mere idea of fiction.

I should also reference the book The Unvanquished, by Faulkner. I read this book at my mom's this past holiday season and was absolutely fascinated Civil War fiction. (It spawned my interest in GWTW.) Again, the idea that the literal ending of the war was not known by the public, particularly the remote regions of the South, for the longest time (due to differences in technology) blew my mind. I think I even blogged about it on this blog before.

I highly recommend reading GWTW if you haven't. And if you know of any literature that is similar, but written from the Union's perspective, PLEASE recommend. I am so curious to read something from that mindset, from those ideals, from that culture from the same period.


About Me

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I live amongst the dragons and the warriors of the 21st century. I surround myself with both the peasants, the aristocrats; the knights and the maidens. For a long time (now quite in the past), I wove the structure of my life around the mold others saw for me. I've since learned to live for God and myself. Freedom comes and goes as I remember this lesson of mine. But my life is MY life: a series of events and remembering such. And this, this beautiful montage, is why I wake up every morning. God willing.