People who know me really well know that there is one book I read over and over, in fact I have read it once a year, every year, since I was sixteen years old. It is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, I read the book way before I saw the movie. I didn’t see the movie until I was 21 years old. By that time, I had already read the book 5 times. Before I get started, I would like to state, once again, this is my opinion, remember, you are in Angie World now.
I, like everyone else assumes that the heroine of the story is Scarlett, it shows her perseverance in the face of war, adversity, depravation, starvation and utter destruction of her homeland. However, the past few years I have seen her differently, she is stubborn, childish and selfish, everything Scarlett does is to benefit her directly and then her family.
The past few years I have been reading it from Melanie’s point of view, from her experiences and the reactions to what is going on around her. She is steadfast, loyal, survivor and has a grace and dignity that cannot be matched.
Take for instance the part where Scarlett is told specifically not to drive through shanty town by herself, it was dangerous, especially for a woman. In her stubbornness and headstrong view, no one would dare harm her, she was an O’Hara of Tara. So of course off she goes, and of course something happens, she is attacked. Saved at the last minute by Big Sam, before anyone could do serious harm to her.
Big Sam takes her home; he cannot go back to shanty town as he killed a man to protect Scarlett. So Frank, Scarlett’s second husband, gives him money and tells him to hightail it to Texas.
Let’s stop and take a moment to count the consequences so far, a man a dead and one is on the run, all because she didn’t want to listen to reason.
Ok, so back to the story, then Frank tells her she is going to Melanie’s because he is going to a men’s meeting. She is livid, shouldn’t Frank stay home to take care of her, make sure she is alright. Of course she’s alright! She is over it the minute it happened. Anyway, this is the only time Frank puts his foot down and off she goes.
She is really the only wife there that is ignorant of what is really going on, Melanie reads from David Copperfield while everyone does their mending or needle work. Scarlett is fuming because she would rather not be in the company of any of these women. Especially with India making snide comments all night.
Then they hear it, their men coming in the door apparently drunk, with a Union soldier hot on their trail. They enter, Scarlett really believes they are drunk and immediately starts complaining, never once asking where her husband is. To add insult to injury to the women they are with Rhett Butler, read the book to find out why that is an insult. The soldier demands to know where the men were, Rhett says they were with him at Belle Watling’s. The women are aghast, Melanie is as cool as a cucumber. The soldier leaves and then it is revealed that Ashley has been wounded.
Melanie takes full control, ordering those women around, and they obeyed without hesitation. Selfish Scarlett doesn’t remember to ask where her husband is until Rhett reminds her.
Then she finds out he is dead and he died trying to protect her honor, all of the men went out to find the second man who had attacked her.
So, let’s do a body count shall we, Big Sam, exiled, a stranger is dead, her husband is dead and one man is wounded. And all of the men have risked their lives and their reputations and now they owe Rhett Butler.
Melanie is the heroine of this story and all throughout GWtW we see her bravery, her calmness, her loyalty, her steadfastness and her belief in the good of all around her. Melanie was a true Ruth, Scarlett was not her true relative, Scarlett was married to her brother and her brother died. Melanie could have very easily stayed with her aunt or followed her when she left Atlanta before the burning of said city.
My mother was a Melanie, quietly going about her business, making sure all around her were taken care of, her home, her family and most of all her husband. She did it all without fanfare, without expecting anything in return.
We should all celebrate the Melanie’s in our life, they are a rare breed, Scarlett’s are very common and we see them everywhere, especially in today’s society.
With the advent of the internet and social media we see more Scarlett’s taking over every day. Scarlett didn’t appreciate Melanie until she died, then she realized what she had lost. Most of us don’t appreciate the Melanie’s in our lives until they are gone.
If you are lucky enough to have a Melanie, tell her you love her and recognize what she has done for you in your life and that you see how she quietly goes about doing for her family and the ones lucky enough to be in her life.