Southern Daughter Essay - Critical Essays

Southern Daughter

Like her mother and her maternal grandmother, the two women who most influenced her, Margaret Mitchell was both a Southern lady and a born rebel. In his biography of the author of GONE WITH THE WIND, Darden Asbury Pyron explains how Mitchell’s search for her own identity led to her writing one of the best-known novels of the twentieth century. Although it was set in the Civil War and the Reconstruction period, GONE WITH THE WIND also reflected the conflicts in Mitchell’s own life. Her unconventional conduct caused her to be spurned by the Atlanta Junior League, but she found it impossible, once she had become famous, to preserve her privacy, and even her health, by refusing to act as a gracious hostess to the strangers who besieged her.

Although the sheer weight of documentation could have caused Pyron’s work to be as unreadable as too many other scholarly biographies, his concentration on Mitchell’s lifelong search for her own identity makes SOUTHERN DAUGHTER as gripping as a novel. In this monumental work, Pyron offers convincing arguments to prove that however it may have been misinterpreted by sentimental readers and by filmmakers, GONE WITH THE WIND was written to deny the traditional view of the antebellum South and to defy the assumptions about women which have held sway for centuries.

Sources for Further Study

Atlanta Journal Constitution. September 22, 1991, p. M4.

Booklist. LXXXVII, August, 1991, p. 2092.

Chicago Tribune. October 15, 1991, V, p. 3.

The Guardian. September 26, 1991, p. 24.

Kirkus Reviews. LIX, June 1, 1991, p. 717.

Library Journal. CXVI, June 15, 1991, p. 79.

Los Angeles Times Book Review. October 13, 1991, p. 2.

The New York Times Book Review. XCVI, October 27, 1991, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly. CCXXXVIII, August 2, 1991, p. 56.

The Washington Post Book World. XXI, September 29, 1991, p. 4.