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 ...
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...tt 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.
"Gone With the Wind" Mitchell, Margaret. The Macmillan Company, New York Seventy-ninth printing, 1968.
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