What is the theme of the novel "Gone with the Wind"?

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sullymonster | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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This novel encompasses so much: love, history, class relationships, gender relationships, race relations, prejudice.  However, if we examine the storyline surrounding the protagonist - Scarlett - the over-reaching theme is survival.  Scarlett begins by surviving the loss of her beloved to another.  She then survives the death of her mother.  Then, as the war intensifies, Scarlett must face her own mortality and the destruction of her lifestyle, and she must learn to survive through these blows.  She survives poverty, bad marriages, the death of her daughter, her own failings, the loss of her friend... and her personal repeated refrain reinforces this theme:

"Tomorrow is another day!"

One of the most famous scenes from the book illustrates Scarlett's survival.  Having been forced to farm in own land in order to survive, Scarlett insists,

"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."

And she never is.  She is able to go from poor to rich on the skill of her own cunning and business sense.  She finally begins to lose interest in Ashley Wilkes after Melanie's death because she understands that he is NOT a survivor.  This disgusts her, and she understands why she loves Rhett Butler so much, and why Melanie was so special.


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