Gone With The Wind Gone With the Wind : Born Survivors Gone With the Wind is a novel written by Margaret Mitchell which focuses on the life of a Southern belle during the Civil War. The underlying focus in Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind is that only those who are born survivors will really prosper during times of true hardship. A born survivor is one who will do anything to survive, at any cost. They will get down in the dirt and work like a dog just for a day’s meal; they will take something from someone else just so that they and their own can live. These people may have social advantages or they may be poor farmers.
The key element in their make-up is that they want to survive, they need to survive. Not only do these people live, they prosper as well. They take whatever they can find and mold it into something that will help them get ahead in life. These are the born survivors. Those who are not born survivors are lacking that one key element; they don’t have the need or the want to get down and dirty and get the job done. Most of these people will either fall through the cracks or they will live out the rest of their lives on a hand to mouth basis. They aren’t able to look ahead, to plan, to scrimp and scavenge and do whatever it takes to survive.
Most of the Southern gentlemen in Gone With the Wind are not born survivors. And raising good cotton, riding well, shooting straight, dancing lightly, squiring the ladies with elegance and carrying one’s liquor like a gentleman were the things that mattered (4). One such gentleman is Ashley Wilkes. While Ashley is adept at the things that matter, he was born of a line of men who used their leisure for thinking, not doing, for spinning brightly colored dreams that had in them no touch of reality (26). Ashley comes home from the war a changed person.
He tries to help Scarlett and the others with the farm work, but he just isn’t able. ‘I wonder not only what will become of us at Tara but what will become of everybody in the South ‘ (526). ‘In the end what will happen will be what has happened whenever a civilization breaks up. The people who have brains and courage come through and the one’s who haven’t are winnowed out ‘ (527). Ashley realizes that he doesn’t belong in this new life, the new South.
He knows that he is out of place and it scares him. While Ashley Wilkes is scared of his new life, Scarlett O’ Hara is not. ‘ You, Scarlett are taking life by the horns and twisting it to your will ‘ (529). Early in the story Scarlett is portrayed as a pampered Southern belle. Her soft white hands are soon calloused and freckled, though.
Scarlett does everything when the war is over. Her mother is dead, so Scarlett not only does the menial work, but she also supervises the household as well. ‘ I’ve struggled for food and for money and I’ve weeded and hoed and picked cotton and I’ve even plowed until I can’t stand it another minute ‘ (531). Scarlett does stand it however, because she is a born survivor and she will stand anything to keep her land and her folks safe. Later in the story, Scarlett is living in Atlanta.
She buys two saw mills as a money making project, because she is still needing to survive. Scarlett is willing to risk social standing to survive; because she is successful the matrons of society look down on her. Rhett Butler tells Scarlett, ‘ All you’ve done is be different from other women and you’ve made a little success at it. As I’ve told you before, that is the unforgivable sin in any society. Be different and be damned! Scarlett, the mere fact that you’ve made a success of your mill is an insult to every man who hasn’t succeeded ‘ (678).
Scarlett, a born survivor, is succeeding where others are failing. Another example of a born survivor is Rhett Butler. Rhett believes that people can either sit and whine about their circumstances or they can do something about it. This philosophy is why Rhett succeeds at surviving when his father kicks him out at the age of sixteen. Instead of perishing, Rhett uses his talent as a gambler to support himself. Eventually, the war starts and Rhett finds other means of surviving. During the war, Rhett survives by being a blockade runner.
He also tries speculating and profiteering, both of which he is highly successful at. The matrons of Atlanta are highly disturbed by Rhett’s success. He is involved in many unscrupulous activities, but he thinks nothing of it. Scarlett observes of Rhett, ‘ All you ever do is finance Carpetbaggers in their thieving and take half the profits and bribe Yankee officials to let you in on schemes to rob us taxpayers ‘ (763). Rhett knows that there is money to be made during the building of a civilization and during the fall.
Rhett is willing to risk his neck participating in unscrupulous activities to survive an get ahead in the new South. Some of the characters in Gone With the Wind are born survivors and some are not. Ashley is lost without his world of hazy dreams while Scarlett and Rhett take things and use them to their advantage. Scarlett and Rhett, born survivors, will live and prosper, and Ashley will simply fall by the wayside because he is not a born survivor. Works Cited Gone With the Wind Mitchell, Margaret.
The Macmillan Company, New York Seventy-ninth printing English Essays.