Saturday, May 22, 2010

Locus Focus

This meme is from the awesome blog Shredded Cheddar and it's all about location! location! location! Obviously the place a book happens is just as important as the characters and storyline and this is the place to write about the settings of the awesome books you've read.

My place this week: Margaret Mitchell's Tara.

The novel and the movie Gone with the Wind would not have been the same without Tara Plantation. Won in a poker game by Irish immigrant Gerald O'Hara, he marries Miss Ellen Robillard, an aristocratic girl from Savannah and builds Tara, the beautiful plantation home that would become the heart and soul of the O'Hara family and of the book.

So why is Tara important? Because Gerald teaches Scarlett that land the only thing worth working, fighting, and dying for and because the plantation itself mirrors what is happening in the story. Its where we first meet the young and vain Scarlett who wants nothing more than to go to parties and be admired. Its where after the war reaches Atlanta and the Yankees burn almost every other plantation to the ground, Scarlett returns. It's where we see her do everything in her power to pay the taxes on it so it won't be taken away by corrupt Yankees. In the book when Scarlett has suffered greatly-the death of her mother, the madness of her father, the not knowing what the future holds and what has happened to the people that she loved, the grinding poverty and the daily struggles just to get by-we see her rise up for love of Tara and the land around it. Utterly exhausted, hungry, and nearly bereft of the spirit that has carried her so far she collapses to the ground and makes her final stand.

"Hunger gnawed at her empty stomach again and she said aloud: 'As God is my witness, and God is my witness, the Yankees aren't going to lick me. I'm going to live through this, and when it's over, I'm never going to be hungry again. No, nor any of my folks. If I have to steal or kill - as God is my witness, I'm never going to be hungry again.'"

I don't know about anyone else but this was the "you go girl!" moment of the whole novel for me.

When things do turn around for her Scarlett again thinks of Tara. After marrying Rhett Butler she uses their money to restore it. After Rhett leaves her Tara is the first thing she thinks of. Tomorrow is another day. She'll return home to Tara and she'll think about how to get Rhett back. Tara the comfort zone, the place that a woman (who at times seems like she has no love in her heart) loves the most. Tara.


  1. +JMJ+

    What a great setting! I love your post, especially the last line about the one thing a woman who doesn't seem to know love does love. I think it's impossible to appreciate Scarlett properly without considering what Tara means to her.

    In the "official" sequel Scarlett, which was commissioned by Margaret Mitchell's estate (if I remember correctly), Scarlett actually stops thinking of Tara as home and tries to build a new life in Ireland! At the end, when she and Rhett are reconciled (which I hope is not a terrible spoiler, because it does seem obvious that the demand for a sequel was the demand for a reconciliation), Scarlett moans that she doesn't know where she belongs any longer because even Tara has become so alien. Which gives Rhett the perfect opening for, "You belong with me, of course!" or some such line.

    Thanks for taking part this week, Holly! =)

  2. This is such a good post! Reading and watching Gone with the Wind made me want to visit the American South.

  3. Not having read the book (nor seen the movie properly) I didn't know all that was in there (and rather wondered what the big deal was)! Reminds me a little of The Good Earth.

  4. Enbrethiliel-I read Scarlett. It was commissioned by MM's estate but after I read it I wasn't sure they made a good choice there. That book just didn't seem like it stayed true to the characters and it was kind of disappointing for me. I did love that Scarlett and Rhett were reunited. I think the only way a sequel really would have worked was if Margaret Mitchell wrote it herself which she refused to do.

    Marg-I first saw the movie and read the book in high school and wanted to move to Atlanta because of it. Of course the city looks nothing like that now but I'd love to take a vacation down that way and tour the old plantation houses.

    Belfry-I've never read the Good Earth. I'll have to check it out sometime to see if I can pick out the similarities.

  5. Never read the book or saw the movie, but Tara sounds like a special place

  6. I've always backed away from reading the book and watching the film because every time I think about either, images of the film pop into my head and I think "opulent costume drama" and so get no further.

    But you've piqued my interest. One of the greatest things to read about, or watch on film, is people building up something or fighting to preserve it. Like Swiss Family Robinson...