Racism In Margaret Butler's Gone With The Wind

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Rhett Butler’s words in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind (1936) reflect the notion of the ‘South’ in America as it prides itself on a certain lifestyle. It is an extremely popular novel which clutched at American hearts for its romantic portrayal of the South and its ‘Lost Cause’. It remains prevalent in spite of the ambivalent form of criticism against the novel and the author of being flawed and racist. Mitchell takes an iconic moment in American History and by setting it in the South, she retains a certain image of the ‘Old South’ while depicting a change brought about by the Civil War. This is problematized by her depiction of African-Americans in the novel as it includes the act of Slavery as a normative practice in the ‘South’ and the life of slaves on a Southern plantation. The critique of this novel generally steers away from the matter of race as it focusses on the protagonist – Scarlett O’Hara and her femininity in a deeply patriarchal society. But, race is an equally important aspect especially in terms of a modern critical reasoning. GWTW is set in Northern Georgia, the heart of the ‘South’ during the Reconstruction Era and the Civil War – an event which shook America and changed it in a way that could never be restored. Before the War, there was a certain lifestyle associated with the ‘South’: one of luxury and leisure. The Southern Culture was a certain, developed aura of gentility and nobleness based on an intricate system of Slavery in the Antebellum

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