The Lessons I Learned From Reading Gone With the Wind

Anita Durairaj
2 min readJun 20, 2022

Classic, historical, and absolutely racist

Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unsplash

My college roommate loved the classics. Gone With the Wind was one of her favorite books. The 1939 movie was also her favorite movie of all time.

I never got tired of hearing about the character Rhett Butler and how dashing and handsome the actor Clark Gable looked in his movie attire.

My roommate highly recommended that I read Gone With the Wind and I readily agreed as I love reading fiction and literature.

I read Gone With the Wind and I loved and hated it in equal measures. I loved it for its romanticism, optimism, and its heroine, Scarlett O’Hara.

However, I also hated it for its blatant racism and the names that were used to denote black people and everyone else who wasn’t of a lily-white heritage.

I understand that the book was written a long time ago when racism was accepted and perhaps one could argue that white people didn’t know better.

Just the same, in the present time, the book is blatantly racist.

As for the three surprising lessons, I learned from reading the book, it would be that anything written a long time ago can be controversial but also given a pass if it appeals to the masses.

Secondly, Gone With the Wind may be a historical saga but the historical aspects may not all be accurate as it was told through the lens of one viewpoint — that of the Confederacy.

Last, a true classic should inspire, entertain, and be timeless. Gone with the Wind may be entertaining and timeless as a historical novel but it failed to inspire. In fact, it does the opposite for me.

I felt tainted after reading it and wondered if I was in the wrong to read a book that promoted racism. I definitely know I would have hated to live in that period of time in the U.S. as a non-white person.

Have you read Gone With the Wind? What are your thoughts?