Discuss Mammy's characterization in Gone With the Wind is reflective of how the novel displays people of color.

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I think that Mammy might be reflective of how Mitchell depicts people of color in the context of the old South and the changing domain of the Civil War South. Mammy is shown to be loyal and dutiful to the O'Hara family.  Mammy rejects the idea that race is to define her being.  Rather, she is shown to be someone who comes to define herself by her loyalty to the family.  The characters of color such as Pork, Prissy, or Big Sam are individuals who remain loyal to the O'Hara family, even though the result of the Civil War is to give freedom to these individuals.  I think that this becomes one of the central characterizations regarding people of color in the novel.  Race is subjugated to personal loyalty.  There is little in way of identifying race and slavery as issues to the people of color in the novel.  Mitchell presents race in an almost invisible manner, instead arguing that the central focus of the narrative is this "Old South" gallantry, something towards which all "true" Southerners, White and Black, can align themselves.  It is here where I think that Mitchell's depiction of people of color is more based on a nostalgic and almost Romantic reading as opposed to something substantive and more authentically reflected.


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