“gumption” in Gone With The Wind

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, I’ve been making frequent posts about short stories.  That’s because I’m still reading Gone With The Wind.  I’m on page 852 to be exact – about 600 more to go.  As I’ve mentioned before, I haven’t seen the movie, either, so I don’t know how everything will end, yet.

The “about the author” section of my book reveals that Margaret Mitchell’s motivation in writing this novel was to portray people who survive as opposed to people who don’t.  Her word for this ability to keep going was “gumption”.  Unless the novel takes a strange turn in the last 600 pages, Scarlett O’Hara will rank up there as one of my favorite literary heroines – and there’s no doubt that she is a survivor:  one with gumption.  I’m still uncertain about Melanie Wilkes, Scarlett’s sister-in-law.  Her almost altruistic character raises some questions in my mind about what Mitchell thought it takes to survive.  What makes up gumption?  Is selfishness or selflessness a part of it or does it take a little of both?  It was a pleasant surprise when Melanie grabbed the feet of the Yankee that Scarlett killed and dragged his body out of Tara with his head clunking on the porch steps.  Scarlett was impressed, too.   She recognized a “steel” in Melanie that until then had been unrecognizable.  Right now, I’m rooting for both of them.


8 responses to ““gumption” in Gone With The Wind

  1. Hi Dale,

    Isn’t “gumption” a wonderful word? It was frequently used in my Mom’s side of the family (more “southern” as in West Virginia/Virginia), but I don’t hear it often here in Indiana. I didn’t realize until I looked it up just now that it has a second meaning which is synonymous with “common sense” or “horse sense.”

    My favorite chess author, Jonathan Rowson, & a brilliant mind in not only chess, is fascinated with the term and was contemplating writing a book somehow about it. I don’t think he has yet, though.


  2. Jay, I don’t hear the word much either, but I have more or less known what it means so I must have heard it somewhere. I lived in South Carolina during part of my growing up, maybe that’s where I heard it. I think I would really like a book about the word ‘gumption’.

  3. New follower here. I’ll be happy to read your final review of this book which is one of my favorites. Not surprising given Mitchell’s motivation for writing the book that she wrote it during the height of the Great Depression.

    • Donna, I’m on page 1338 (of 1440)so I hope to finish it soon. So far, I’ve found Scarlett and Melanie’s ability to not give up very inspiring. I’m looking forward to seeing how things turn out. Thanks for stopping by and I’d love to hear more of your thoughts on the book.


  4. Pingback: Book Report: January & February 2013 | Maple & a Quill

  5. Pingback: “…tomorrow is another day.” | Mirror w/ Clouds

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