After being (too young) a widow with one baby boy Wade, the distressed Scarlett headed to Atlanta to visit Charles Hamilton’s relative: Aunt Pittypat. There she stayed with Melanie (Ashley’s wife) who was staying there too during the war. At this part Mitchell took us to see the other side of the war. Atlanta was flooding with wounded men at hospitals, and women volunteered in hospital committees to take care of them. Here we can imagine how Scarlett’s life has been turned over so quickly. Just before the war she was a young innocent girl whose purpose in life is to appear as beautifully as she could and to attract as many young men as possible. Now, she was a widow—and being a widow at that time meant women should wear black dress without accessories, and must appeared always in mourning state, and stayed away from parties and other amusement events. If in Part 1 Scarlett tried to ignore the upcoming civil war, now she must face it; she even took part in it.
Rather annoyingly, Mitchell wrote quite much about how Scarlett hated war because she must knit, sew, and work hard at hospitals, while all she wanted was dancing at the parties; and how she felt her life was unfair because she was a widow, while other girls at her age—even who was much less attractive than her—could dance and flirt freely. I can hardly keep on reading this, and must skip several pages until the situation have changed. It happened at a fund-raising bazaar, held to get fund for financing the war, where Scarlett met Rhett Butler—a blockade runner who supplied luxuries supplies for Atlanta. Mitchell gave Rhett a bigger portion at this part, we got to know him by appearance (which reminded me to stereotypical Harlequin’s male protagonists) as well as his liberal way of thinking.
Then Rhett slowly reshape Scarlett’s mind, by starting to ask her to dance at the bazaar, which naturally shocked everybody. Here the rebellious character of Scarlett started to appear, she did not afraid of what people said about her, she just wanted to do what she liked. In the middle of Scarlett’s transformation (from a mourning widow to a radiant young woman), we could see the dreadful effect of the war which was beginning to creep in. The tension grew when the Confederate armies experienced some losses, and took many lives of people whom Scarlett knew well. Now she began to realize the terrible shape of the war.
Even though Ashley did not have large portion in this part, he is still my favorite character so far. My favorite passage of this part was what Ashley wrote in his letter to Melanie—which Scarlett secretly read but failed to understand the meaning because she focused only to search any signs that Ashley still loved her… oh poor-silly-Scarlet :(
“I am not afraid of danger or capture or wounds or even death, if death must come, but I do fear that once this war is over, we will never get back to the old times. And I belong in those old times. I do not belong in this mad present of killing and I fear I will not fit into any future, try though I may. I do not know what the future will bring, but it cannot be as beautiful or as satisfying as the past.”
When eventually the armies went home for Christmas, poor Scarlett (once again) began her longing for Ashley’s attention to make sure whether he still loved her. She could finally have a moment to speak privately, only to hear that Ashley begged her to look after Melanie during his absent. After that Confederate kept losing battle, and in one of it Ashley got captures by the Yankee while Melanie was getting pregnant. Life began to get harder for Scarlett… And meanwhile, prices began to rise, foods were rare, and Atlanta struggled from the war. This was what Rhett has tried to explain to Southern people who took war as a glorious way to prove that they were better than the other. Here Scarlett began to understand the meaning of Ashley’s letter, for he had the same idea as Rhett’s about the war. When Scarlett asked Rhett, why Ashley kept fighting at the war while he has already known the truth, Rhett simply said that it was because Ashley’s a gentleman. Well, I can’t say who’s right or wrong, for I always admire people who hold their principles, but if I had to choose between Rhett and Ashley, I would choose Ashley :) At least until this Part 2…
Part 2 is a slightly better reading than part 1, with the war coming. Scarlett still showed her selfish, indifferent character, but her life was not full of fun anymore, now she began to struggle from the war—although it was all still in her own mind frame. I was still often annoyed at her, but I really hope she would gradually learn her lessons and transform to a more reasonable woman in next parts!
What about you? How do you think about this Part 2? Don’t forget to share your thoughts in the Update Posts page, and see what others thought about it.