Race, Gender and the Southern Imagination
in Gone with the Wind

by Mai Kondo  / January 2017




I would first like to express my sincere gratitude to Professor Takayuki Tatsumi of Keio University for the continuous support of this thesis, for his patience, motivation, and immense knowledge. The door to his office was always open and he is always willing to help me whenever I ran into trouble or had a question about my research. Since so many graduates of Tatsumi seminar had written a thesis on the subject of Gone with the Wind until now and also there is an enormous amount of preceding study, it was a big challenge for me to tackle Gone with the Wind in my original way. When I got stuck on research direction or writing of this thesis, his guidance and insight greatly helped and enlightened me all the time. I could not have imagined having a better advisor and mentor for my study. Thank you very much for letting me study Gone with the Wind and the legacy inherited by a number of graduates of Tatsumi seminar.

In addition, I feel indebted to some of splendid people who I met during my study abroad at the College of William and Mary in Virginia, U.S. I met Professor Arthur Knight (American Studies) at his class, “Cinema and the Modernization of U.S. Culture.” He enlightened me to the academic world of American cinemas, America’s most popular and powerful entertainment. I learned for the first time about The Birth of a Nation and had the chance to write a paper about it from a perspective of race. Without his class, I could not have got interested in and deeply studied The Birth of a Nation. Also, I am obliged to Professor Beverly Peterson who I met at her class, “Writing for Non Native Speakers.” Practice in writing under her supervision extremely improved my writing ability. Her guidance definitely provided me with the tools that I needed to successfully complete my thesis.

Finally, my genuine appreciation goes to my family who gave me a chance to study at Keio University and the College of William and Mary. I am indebted to my parents for my all. They are always supportive for me however insolent I am to them. I cannot thank you enough for everything you did for me until now.


Margaret Mitchell
  • 1900 Born on 8 November in Atlanta, Georgia
  • 1918 Enrolled at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts
  • 1919 Returned to Atlanta; Mitchell’s mother died of influenza
  • 1922 Married Berrien Kinnard Upshaw, but it ended four months later; Started to work at the Atlanta Journal’s Sunday magazine
  • 1925 Married John Robert Marsh
  • 1926 Began to write Gone with the Wind
  • 1936 Published Gone with the Wind
  • 1937 Won Pulitzer Prize
  • 1939 David O. Selznick produced the film, Gone with the Wind; Received ten Academy Awards
  • 1949 Died of a car accident

Thomas Dixon Jr.
  • 1864  Born in Shelby, North Carolina
  • 1879  Enrolled at Wake Forest
  • 1883 Received a scholarship to attend the Johns Hopkins University; Met and befriended future President Woodrow Wilson
  • 1884 Enrolled in the Greensboro Law School in Greensboro, North Carolina
  • 1885 Ran for the local seat in the North Carolina General Assembly
  • 1886 Retired from politics; Served as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church
  • 1895 Resigned from the Baptist ministry; Started preaching at a nondenominational church
  • 1902  Published The Leopard’s Spots, the first novel of “Trilogy of Reconstruction”
  • 1905 Published The Clansman: A Historical Romance of the Ku Klux Klan
  • 1905 Wrote “Booker T. Washington and the Negro” on Saturday Evening Post
  • 1907  Published The Traitor
  • 1915 D. W. Griffith directed The Birth of a Nation

William Faulkner
  • 1897 Born in New Albany, Mississippi
  • 1918 Joined the British Royal Flying Corps
  • 1919 Enrolled at the University of Mississippi
  • 1926  Published his first novel, Soldiers’ Pay
  • 1929  Published The Sound and the Fury
  • 1930  Published As I Lay Dying
  • 1930 Published Sanctuary
  • 1932 Published Light in August
  • 1936 Published Absalom, Absalom!
  • 1949 Awarded Nobel Prize in Literature
  • 1955 Visited Nagano, Japan
  • 1962 Died of a heart attack

List of Illustrations

Fig. 1  The Birth of a Nation, 1915.
Fig. 2  The Birth of a Nation, 1915.
Fig. 3  The Birth of a Nation, 1915.
Fig. 4  The Birth of a Nation, 1915.


The novel Gone with the Wind written by the American writer Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949) and especially the film of the same name are world-famous. The novel was published in 1936 and Margaret Mitchell was awarded the Pulitzer Prize a year later. The book has sold 25 million copies, has been translated into twenty-seven languages and today about 75,000 copies are sold in North America annually. It is a perennial bestseller, making it one of the most successful novels of all time, even though critics are ambivalent about the literary merits of Margaret Mitchell’s historical saga.

David O. Selznick released the film Gone with the Wind in 1939, starring Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh, Leslie Howard and Olivia de Havilland, and it won ten Academy Awards. The narrative begins in 1861 in the days before the Civil War, and ends in 1871, after the Democrats regain power in Georgia, the South. Gone with the Wind is primarily regarded as a romantic story focusing on the romance between the two main characters, Scarlet O’Hara and Rhett Butler, taking place during the American Civil War and the Reconstruction era. Alongside the doomed love story, Mitchell provides a description of life in the South from 1861 to 1874, depicting the character of the aristocratic society. The American Civil War and its consequences resonate in the background of the love affair.

The novel constantly draws people’s attention and is translated in many different languages all over the world and it is just a great romantic story for most of readers. However, it can be claimed that the novel is not only about a love story but also about a feminist, because it is written from women’s point of view and portrays lives of women focusing on white women from the rich planter class. In addition, throughout the narrative, Mitchell seems to express criticism of the patriarchal society of the Antebellum South, showing how a historical event affects women’s lives and how women perceive it. Despite the severe gender inequality of their time, women in Gone with the Wind show strength and intelligence that equals those of men, and survive through the changing Southern society.

Furthermore, many critics do not see Gone with the Wind only as a romantic novel. They have questioned the outdated racial stances of Gone with the Wind. Both blacks and whites have harshly criticized Mitchell’s sympathetic depiction of slavery and the Ku Klux Klan and her racist description of blacks, arguing that it is one of the most racially stereotypical and openly racist novels of all time, one that with the associated movie has driven white Americans into racist ideas about both slavery and African Americans. Hubert H. McAlexander criticizes that Mitchell is a racist and Gone with the Wind promotes the racial segregation. “Racist it unquestionably is—almost inevitably so, given the time and place of its composition. Beyond that, it gives powerful support to damaging stereo-types that for long helped sustain racial segregation” (“Margaret Mitchell”).

What racial factors of Gone with the Wind drive them to harshly criticize it and how have racial and gender issues in the novel influenced readers and American society itself? I believe that it is worth investigating them in order to understand Mitchell’s thoughts and changing human problems in American society. Therefore, this thesis seeks to consider race and gender issues in the imagined South of Gone with the Wind and its connection to the contemporary American society, focusing on the descriptions of whites’ attitudes toward black slaves and the O’Haras’ gender roles.

From this perspective, Chapter 1 explores the aspects of “Anti-Tom Novel” that seems to have a positive attitude about the slavery system. Leslie Fiedler regards Gone with the Wind as “Anti-Tom Novel” since Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin criticizes slavery while Gone with the Wind admires the southern society which possessed slavery. By paying attention to depictions of the relationship between southerners and negroes, and examining representations of mammy’s body and a friendly relationship between Scarlet and mammy, I reveal how Mitchell tries to represent a beautiful romance between southerners and “negroes,” in which whites and blacks have forged a good relationship.

In Chapter 2, I discuss the mind of the South as represented by romanticism, individualism and the Proto-Dorian convention. I compare William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! with Gone with the Wind, suggesting that they were both written in the South during the Great Depression of the 1930s. By analyzing these novels, I reveal the essential mind of the Southerners which provokes discrimination against black people.

Chapter 3 examines connections between Gone with the Wind and the Great Depression, paying attention to Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman, which was to be transformed into D.W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. By considering the meaning of justification of the KKK, I investigate how the novel affected readers in the southern society in the 1930s. Furthermore, I would like to consider how the legacy of Dixon and Mitchell was inherited by our contemporary American society, paying attention to the KKK and the future President, Donald Trump.

In Chapter 4, I compare Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Wilkes in terms of gender and feminism. Mitchell emphasizes the contrast between her two main female characters: Melanie Hamilton Wilkes is the traditional female and “southern belle,” whereas Scarlett O’Hara is the “new woman” of the novel. By examining these two characters, I consider how the strong, independent new woman, Scarlett encouraged women in the 1930s.

Chapter 1.
Gone with the Wind as Anti-Tom Novel: History from Painfully Southern Perspective

1. Gone with the Wind as Vulgar Literature
Many critics have questioned the outdated racial stances of Gone with the Wind. Both blacks and whites have harshly criticized Mitchell’s sympathetic depiction of slavery and the Ku Klux Klan and her racist description of blacks, arguing that it is one of the most racially stereotyped and openly racist novels of all time, one that with the associated movie has driven white Americans into racist ideas about both slavery and African Americans. Hubert H. McAlexander criticizes that Mitchell is a racist and Gone with the Wind promotes the racial segregation:
The inherent racism of the novel is more difficult to defend. Characteristic of her generation of southerners is Mitchell’s unquestioning acceptance of the essential inferiority of African Americans, whom she presents, in a few distasteful instances, in nonhuman terms. . . . Beyond that, it gives powerful support to damaging stereo-types that for long helped sustain racial segregation. (McAlexander)

The novel is often criticized for being based on white supremacy, implying that slavery is an ideal social system: “How stupid negroes were! They never thought of anything unless they were told” (Mitchell 400). The term for slaves such as “negroes” which is socially and politically unacceptable at the present day represents one of the reasons why the novel is treated as discrimination. Karen L. Cox also points out the particular image of the South in the novel, which is called the myth of the Old South. “[T]he book’s Lost Cause narrative of the pre-Civil War South as a region gilded by romance and whose cast of characters included cavaliers, belles, mansions, and of course, loyal slaves” (Cox).

Mitchell herself resolutely refused being a racist, referring to her charity and pointing out that using the address terms “Nigger” and “darkey” had a historical basis (Dickey 9). As Jennifer Word Dickey says, Mitchell claims that these address terms for black people and discriminatory portrayals are absolutely based on the historical facts since she describes prejudices against not only black people but also people from the North: “Live with Yankees!―couldn’t let him [their son] go to school and associate with Yankee children and have pickaninnies in his class!” (Mitchell 712)

Although Mitchell probably tried to describe the southern history accurately, that history disproportionately relies on the southern point of view. Amanda Adams states that Gone with the Wind is a historical saga only from the view of the South. The point of view is intensely and sometimes a little painfully Southern. This partisanship of the author comes out in Mitchell’s presentation of the Civil War and Reconstruction (Adams 59). In addition, Floyd C. Watkins declares that “Much in the novel is bad, false to history, and, worst of all, false to human nature” (198):
It creates a myth which seems to ease the hunger of all extravagantly Southern and little romantic souls, but it propagandized history, fails to grasp the depths and complexities of human evil and the significances of those who prevail. Gone With the Wind is what William Dean Howells called vulgar literature: “what is despicable, what is lamentable is to have hit the popular fancy and not have done anything to change it, but everything to fix it; to flatter it with false dreams of splendor in the past, when life was mainly as simple and sad-colored as it is now. . . .” (Watkins 200)

According to Watkins, good historical novels are meditative but in Gone with the Wind obsessive interests and mythology ruin the brew and the humanity as well as the contemporary are obscured. For example, formal manners and dress in Gone with the Wind give a false picture of the Old South and idealize its flaws. Mitchell never mentions exhaustion and sweat of field work in the Southern life, except for that caused by the Yankees. Besides, Watkins compares Gone with the Wind with William Falkner’s Absalom, Absalom! and mentions that “the great drama of the forces of history appears in Falkner’s work, but not in Miss Mitchell’s” (203):
The battle of Atlanta in Gone With the Wind is good pageantry, but its accomplishment stops precisely there. The victor is victor in romantic fiction, but Falkner’s greater work shows a victor overrun by those he liberated and harassed by those he defeated. (Watkins 203)

In Gone with the Wind, the liberated slave is just another mean nigger who causes an uprising of the KKK, punishments of Southern whites by Yankees.
These two novels alone contain much which can never be found in the gaudier romance. There is history in the works of Falkner and Miss Mitchell, but the depths of humanity appear only in Falkner . . . Gone With the Wind lacks true depth for one reason because it leaves evil out of the garden of Tara. (Watkins 202)

Besides, Watkins mentions that unlike Absalom, Absalom!, Gone With the Wind has no character with their consistency, sacrifice, courage and suffering. It is sure that Scarlett’s marriages and aspirations and Rhett Butler’s ruthlessness are parallels to Sutpen. However, no one in Gone with the Wind is capable of Sutpen’s tragic failure. These examinations suggest that Gone with the Wind is prudish and melodramatic. The narrative is based on the southern perspective which is partly false to the facts of rural and Southern life particularly and false to history and human nature as well.

2. Gone with the Wind as the Ultimate Example of Anti-Tom Novel
Justification of slavery and the KKK represents one of the painfully southern aspects of the story. Leslie Fiedler regards Gone with the Wind as an “Anti-Tom Novel” since Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin criticizes slavery while Gone with the Wind admires the southern society which possessed slavery.
There’s a great series of books in the United States which begins with Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, is answered by Tomas Dixon’s The Clansman and The Leopard’s Spots, which then become D.W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation, clearly one best movie an American ever made, and ends with Margaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. (Fiedler 244) 

Harriet Beecher Stowe blamed slavery through her novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin published in 1852 during the Civil War. However, since the southern society in those days depended on slavery and abolition of slavery could make the economy fall into crisis, the white southerners felt a sense of aversion to those who blamed the evil of slavery represented by Stowe. A lot of books that admire “the antebellum South which possess slavery” and justify;slavery were published for these people:
Between 1852 and 1861, at least twenty-seven novels by southerners worked to foster the image of a more pleasant plantation system in popular culture. . . . The Anti-Tom works created kinder, gentler plantations with fewer whippings, more thoughtful mistresses, and more pious, passive and loyal slaves. Many of the slaves in these works declare their need for slavery, if not satisfaction and happiness with it. (Huntzicker 16)

Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman, the bestseller in 1920s South that heroicized the KKK and Gone with the Wind represent this kind of novel. The stereotype of the happy slave was safely ensconced in American popular culture when Gone with the Wind was published particularly. Ironically, in Gone with the Wind, Uncle Tom’s Cabin causes problems for Scarlett O’Hara when she encounters Northern women holding stereotypes created by the earlier book.
“Accepting Uncle Tom’s Cabin as revelation second only to the Bible, the Yankee women all wanted to know about the bloodhounds which every Southerner kept to track down runaway slaves. They never believed her when she told them she had only seen one bloodhound in all her life and it was a small mild dog and not a huge ferocious mastiff.” (Mitchell 662)

She resents their interest in branding irons and slave concubinage. This statement of Scarlett suggests that Mitchell thinks Uncle Tome’s Cabin is totally wrong and proves that Gone with the Wind is the Anti-Tom Novel.

3.A Beautiful Romance between Southerners and Negroes
Through Gone with the Wind, Mitchell describes the southern myth that the white southerners and black slaves are very close:
The house negroes of the County considered themselves superior to white trash, and their unconcealed scorn stung him, while their more secure position in life stirred his envy. By contrast with his own miserable existence, they were well-fed, well-clothed and looked after in sickness and old age. They were proud of the good names of their owners and, for the most part, proud to belong to people who were quality, while he was despised by all. (Mitchell 51)

This quote suggests that the slaves who work for the O’Haras are proud of the names and fortunes of their owners and very content with their lives. Mitchell insists the friendly relationship between southerners and negroes, and mammy demonstrates it well.
Though the Black Rapist, the archetypal “Bad Nigger,” foreshadowed in Dixon and Griffith’s Gus, makes a brief appearance in her pages, he has proved less memorable than her “Good Niggers,” who serve, protect and, as Falkner liked to put it, “endure.” When all else of the Old South is gone with the wind: the armies of the Confederacy defeated, the great houses pillaged and burned, the courtly lovers—whether impotent cavaliers like Ashley Wilkes or sexy scoundrels like Rhett Butler—departed, her Good Nigger-in-chief, “Mammy” still remains to preside over the book’s bittersweet ending. (Fiedler 245)

In Gone with the Wind, bad blacks who do harm to whites do not appear in the antebellum. Instead, the black particularly mammy is portrayed as a good Nigger. Mammy still remained in Tara for Scarlett after the Civil War even though Rhett and Ashley went away.
Scarlett O’Hara must be last seen “going home,”. . . But who is left to welcome her back. . . Only “Mammy” remains, as she must, since “home” is where she has always been, will always be. “And Mammy will be there,” Scarlett re-assures herself. (Fiedler 245)

Mammy, the last link with the old days, was always there for Scarlett even after the defeat of the Confederacy and Scarlett also had wanted her all the time since she was a little girl. The depiction of mammy’s body also represents the good relationship between black slaves and Scarlett:
Mammy engaged from the hall, a huge old woman with the small, shrewd eyes of an elephant. She was shining black, pure African, devoted to her last drop of blood to the O’Haras, Ellen’s mainstay, the despair of her three daughters, the terror of the other house servants. Mammy was black, but her code of conduct and her sense of pride were as high as higher than those of her owners. (Mitchell 30)

In addition to mammy’s body shining black, there is no mixed-race slave appeared in the story, who is a child between a white southerner and a female black slave. I think that it represents their correctitude toward sexual matters. Furthermore, mammy’s huge body all the time even in the postbellum when people were experiencing a food shortage defuses criticism that the white southerners did not provide enough foods to their slaves. I argue that mammy plays the role of propaganda that dispels the criticism toward slavery society where sexual abuse and labor exploitation of black slaves happen frequently.

Moreover, Mitchell also repeatedly blames the North for forcing emancipation of slaves and corrupting the southern society:
Scarlet thought: What damnably queer people Yankees are! . . . They did not know that negroes had to be handled gently, as though they were children, directed, praised, petted, scolded. They didn’t understand negroes or the relations between the negroes and the their former masters. Yet they had fought a war to free them. And having freed them, they didn’t want to have anything to do with them, except to use them to terrorize Southerners. (Mitchell 940)

As Scarlett complains, black southerners degenerated and plunged the South into chaos because the North forced the South to do emancipation of slaves. It is considered that she created the southern beautiful myth and admires good, pure and guiltless southerners by severely criticizing the North: “Gone With the Wind is one of the most oversimplified treatments of the Civil War. The chief contention of the book and its author is that Yankees are bad and Southerners are good”(Watkins 206).

Mitchell thinks that the beautiful relationship between whites and blacks is destroyed by the North. These considerations so far indicate Mitchell’s view of black people that slaves working in Tara are very cooperative and devoted to their plantation owners. On the other hand, according to Ralph McGill, even though owners and black slaves build good relationships, they are never on even ground: “She was always the unreconstructed Southerner, with a fierce pride in and loyalty to, the old code that a Southern white person scrupulously ‘look after’ servants and decent colored persons in distress” (McGill 75).

As McGill suggests, Mitchell had this kind of pride which many white southerners embraced in the 1930s, assuming that equal relationships between whites and blacks are not proper at all in the South.

Chapter 2.
The Mind of the South Reconsidered: Proto-Dorian Convention, Individualism and Romanticism

1. “Proto-Dorian Convention” Provokes Racial Violence
In this chapter, I explore the essential mind of the South rooted in the mind of southern people. First, in The Mind of the South, W. J. Cash points out Proto-Dorian convention, which is a common psychological characteristic of southern whites. The Mind of the South appeared in 1941 and has drawn praise from journalists and literary figures as well as from historians.
Because of slavery, and the common white’s psychological needs, color elevated the common white to a position comparable to that, say, of the Doric knight of ancient Sparta . . . This belief was a fantasy that coddled the ego of the common man and was thus integral to maintaining the proto-Dorian bond. (Cash 100)

Cash’s descriptive terminology, the “Proto-Dorian convention” is the phenomenon that all whites unite regardless of class, in a common, overriding commitment to white supremacy, even though there are economic, political and religious conflicts between them. It soon served as conceptual coin of the realm for historians of the South after The Mind of the South was published. In this phenomenon, black people play a role in removing anxiety and discontent white people have. Common white particularly poor farmers become blinded to their real economic interests and identify themselves with people in a higher class like plantation masters, depending on Negro inferiority. By doing so, they can keep their feelings of superiority and satisfaction. The Proto-Dorian convention provided ordinary farmers with psychological satisfaction, suppressing their concerns with the class idea. In short, it prevented them from having a sense of split-up with a plantation class. This mechanism had a great impact on the South during the Civil War, the period of great turbulence.
It is to be observed in this connection too, and finally, that it was the common white—and particularly the poor white properly so called—in whom the Yankee’s activities generated the greatest terror and rage, in whom race obsession and passion for getting the Negro safely bound again in his old place were most fully developed. (Cash 119)

While people suffered from poverty after the Civil War, common white southerners came to rely on the psychological content from the Proto-Dorian convention more intensely. Since abolition of slavery gave black people civic rights and freedom, white southerners would be degraded to the same class as black if their sense of superiority is taken away. Therefore, domination of black people by white supremacy was actually accelerated although emancipation of slaves was enforced. This resulted in promoting southern whites’ tendency to stick to racial violence and myths.

According to Cash, individualism is one of the characteristics of the mind of the South: “The essence of the individualism was the boast, voiced or not, on the part of every Southerner, that he would knock hell out of whomever dared to cross him”(Cash 42).

Individualism in the South is the stance that emphasizes the ability to protect one by oneself and not to let others to interfere in one’s business rather than the western belief to exercise one’s free will. White southerners tended to protect themselves by their own justifying violence because they were deprived of their political power by the North and were not able to get a satisfied judgement in court. This tendency caused lynching and a vigilante corps as represented by the KKK, which was approved as the act to assert white southerners’ rights. In addition to individualism, Cash presents the tendency to become hedonistic and fantastic as the mind of the South: “I mean the tendency toward unreality, toward romanticism, and in intimate relation with that, toward hedonism”(Cash 57).

Southerners are inclined to invent myths convenient to themselves and suddenly believe in them without considering them. For example, during the Civil War, they made up the myths such as gentleman planter and southern belle and believe in them in order to compensate the moral defect of slavery.

2. Southern Myths in Gone with the Wind and Absalom, Absalom!: American Romance and Racial Tragedy
To consider these characteristics of the mind of the South more deeply, I compare William Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! with Gone with the Wind, suggesting that they were both written in the Deep South during the Great Depression of the 1930s. Thomas Sutpen in Absalom, Absalom! built his dynasty in Yoknapatawpha, Mississippi and Gerald O’Hara in Gone with the Wind built his dynasty in Tara in the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia in the 1830s. They were both poor whites and both of the stories show the southerners’ fear toward miscegenation, interracial marriage.

Absalom, Absalom! is based on the circumstance that miscegenation, mixed breed between white and black was strictly forbidden in the South.
He surely would have been well aware of the entanglement of incest and miscegenation in southern thought, whether or not he knew about 1880 statue declaring intermarriage between whites and African Americans “incestuous and void” or the 1854 sociological treatise by fellow Mississippian Henry Hughes claiming that “amalgamation is incest” on the ground that “the same law which forbids consanguineous amalgamation forbids ethnical amalgamation.” (Buell 294)

This quote suggests that miscegenation was very exclusive and a mulatto was harshly discriminated and prohibited as incest was in the South. Anti-miscegenation laws were a part of American law since before the United States was established and remained so until ruled unconstitutional in 1967 by the U.S. Supreme Court in Virginia. In many states, anti-miscegenation laws also criminalized cohabitation and sex between whites and non-whites. In addition, the state of Oklahoma in 1908 banned marriage between a person of African descent and any person not of African descent. This idea is based on “One-drop rule”:
The nation’s answer to the question “Who is black?” has long been that a black is any person with any known African black ancestry. This definition reflects the long experience with slavery and later with Jim Crow segregation. In the South it became known as the “one-drop rule,” meaning that a single drop of “black blood” makes a person a black. (Davis)

After the Civil War, many states made the system of law for segregation of blacks and whites. The definition of “the black” was necessary and most of southern states applied the one-drop rule. Thus, children between whites and blacks are prejudiced even though their skins are not black. “Most important of the novel’s miscegenations, however, is that between Sutpen and his first wife, a woman whom Sutpen believed to be white but who was actually of mixed race” (Railton).

In Absalom, Absalom! Sutpen run away from his black wife who he married and with whom he had children believing that she was white. It reveals how sinful miscegenation is in those days. The following quote shows Charles Bon’s grief as a mulatto: “So it’s the miscegenation, not the incest, which you can’t bear” (Faulkner 285); “No I’m not. I’m the nigger that’s going to sleep with your sister” (Faulkner 286). Charles realizes that the intimate relationship with Judith Sutpen is miscegenation as well as incest and calls himself nigger, facing the reality that he has to commit a big sin to marry her. Henry Sutpen finally murders Charles to save her sister from incest and miscegenation: “His white son, Henry, . . . finally murdering his half-brother in order to save his sister from incest and, even worse, miscegenation”(Porter).

This idea of family indicates southern whites’ tendency to hate mixture of identities in order to preserve white pure-blood in good old days of America. I think that this antiforeignism is derived from the concept of the Proto-Dorian convention. During the days of the Civil War, white people who had white supremacy over negroes scared to be degraded to a lower class by miscegenation. Also, Henry’s murder of Charles represents individualism that she tried to protect white pure-blood from miscegenation. Faulkner describes white southerners’ strong intention to preserve the white pure-blood and suffer which children of mixed race experienced through denying miscegenation. Absalom, Absalom! demonstrates their fear that the superior category of “white race” becomes ambiguous because of miscegenation and the order of southern society might collapse.

On the other hand, in Gone with the Wind, there seem to be no darkness of interracial marriages, but Ben Railton points out: “For Mitchell, then, the ultimate tragedy of the South is the same as it was for Faulkner: miscegenation.” Railton mentions the changing attitude of Rhett Butler as a reason for this argument:
Rhett Butler’s growth from cynical, self-absorbed critic of the Old South to nostalgic southern gentleman is directly caused by his deepened sense of the possibility and consequently the dangers of miscegenation in the Reconstruction South. (Railton 41)

Rhett Butler criticizes the southern society at first, but he considers the good Old South very important as he finds the dangers of miscegenation: “When Scarlett first meets Rhett in the post-war years, he is in a Yankee military prison, awaiting a possible death sentence for the killing of an ‘uppity darky who had insulted a white woman’ (Mitchell 552)” (Railton). Rhett Butler is arrested by Yankees for killing a black who raped a white woman after the Civil War, but he says “I did kill the nigger. He was uppity to a lady, and what else could a Southern gentleman do?” (Mitchell 614). Since he feels the danger of miscegenation when the North declares that blacks and whites are equal after emancipation, he tries to stop miscegenation even if he can be a criminal:
It was the large number of outrages on women and the ever-present fear for the safety of their wives and daughters that drove Southern men to cold and trembling fury and caused the Ku Klux Klan to spring up overnight. And it was against this nocturnal organization that the newspapers of the North cried out most loudly, never realizing the tragic necessity that brought it into being. (Mitchell 647)

Mitchell states that the KKK was inevitably established by southern white men as blacks’ violence on white women increased. It is considered that the KKK tried to keep white pure-blood safe by preventing miscegenation in the southern society after the Civil War.

Railton clarifies the differences between Absalom, Absalom! and Gone with the Wind:
While Faulkner places the ultimate blame for the tragedy on the white South and its refusal to own up to the existence of, and its complicity in, miscegenation, Mitchell lays that blame squarely on the shoulders of the Yankees, first for giving blacks the idea of equality, then for refusing to admit the necessity of stopping miscegenation at all costs. (Railton 54)

As Railton mentions, Falkner blames the southern white society for denying miscegenation while Mitchell blames the Yankees for declaring an equality of blacks and whites. In contrast, Carolyn Porter regards Gone with the Wind as southern romance: “While Mitchell enabled America to see itself new, revived version of the South That Rise Again, Faulkner revealed America as a united state of denial, secured by its refusal to the racist” (Porter). Faulkner presents the resistance to racism while Mitchell portrays the South lively during the Reconstruction.
She would have us believe that what Scarlett and Rhett have in common is no longer their critical vision but their renewed devotion to the South, reborn in Rhett’s fantasies about Charleston and Scarlett’s fantasies about Tara . . . Whereas Mitchell’s popularity reflects how she turned her story of the South into American romance, Faulkner’s novel turned the American success story of Sutpen into racial tragedy that few foresaw 1936 as a national dilemma. (Porter)

As Porter mentions, through the perspectives of Rhett and Scarlett, Gone with the Wind typically shows the mind of the South: a tendency toward romanticism. Also, I think this is why Gone with the Wind quickly got so popular when it was published.

3. The Overlapping Periods: the 1860s and the 1930s
After the Civil War, planter class believed in these myths of the Old South and common white southerners also believed in them to identify themselves with planters by the Proto-Dorian convention, which made the South fantasized more. These southern tendencies to individualism and hedonism which encourage violence also existed in the 1930s when Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind.
To most of these millions, ignorant or indifferent to history, the Defeat of the Confederacy and the Burning of Atlanta, represented a legend not of the antebellum past but the mid-Depression present. Though she had begun her novel in the twenties, Miss Mitchell finished it under the shadow of the great collapse of 1929; and as she revised it for publication, unemployment, strikes and the threat of violence possessed the streets of our desolate cities; while overseas Nazis and Communists goosestepped and chanted, evoking the menace of conquest and war. Small wonder then that it became the most popular work of the age. (Fiedler 247)

Since the 1930s when Gone with the Wind was written saw the Great Depression, people in the 1930s sympathized with the narratives represented by the defeat of the Confederacy. Its preparatory era, the 1920s was prosperous time called “Golden age.” On the other hand, the 1920s was also the era full of discriminations and prejudices, influences of the Russian Revolution in 1917, government’s oppression on the active movements of communists and anarchists and their resentments, persecutions to WASP by the second KKK. I suggest that these incidents are also based on individualism that they protect themselves from anxiety with the society. This seemingly wonderful age saw the Great Depression beginning with the Wall Street Crash of 1929. During this time, American people wished for historical novels or southern literature which is about a glorious era in the past, looking forward to nostalgic stories.

Chapter 3.
The Clansman reinvented by Gone with the Wind: Make America Great Again!

In Chapter 2, I reveal that the unique mind of the South as represented by individualism and romanticism derived from Proto-Dorian convention, and that it can be applied to the South in the 1930s when Gone with the Wind was published. In this chapter, I consider how Gone with the Wind as the Anti-Tom novel influenced people in the Great Depression era, paying attention to Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman, which become D.W. Griffith’s film, The Birth of a Nation. Furthermore, I try to examine how Mitchell’s intentions are taken over by the contemporary American society, focusing on the connection between KKK and Donald Trump.

1. The Clansman Reconsidered
The Clansman was published in 1905 when America had been transformed into the nation which promoted white supremacy. Around the turn of the century, a circulation of papers and magazines drastically grew and impacts that mass media gave people got bigger and bigger. Through the mass media, the image of the South was improved, whereas the image of the black deteriorated. Northerners who had supported the black people in Abolitionism and the following Reconstruction lost their interests in the southern black because of expansionism and inpouring throngs of immigrants to America. In contrast, the southerners who immigrated to the North started to have big impacts on the nation after the Reconstruction. Publishing industry which came to have strong influence redrew America as a white nation and contrarily gave people a bad image of the black.

Following these trends of the time, Dixon’s The Clansman and Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation became one of the bestsellers. Dixon wrote about the era of the Civil War and the Reconstruction. The movie states that “The bringing of the African to America planted the first seed of disunion” (The Birth of a Nation) in the beginning. It argues that the cause of disunion between the South and the North is the black. Dixon assumed that the Reconstruction marked the dominance of the black and suppression over the white southerners. According to James Kinney, “[i]n Dixon’s mind, the North’s idealistic dream of raising blacks to the white level could only lead to the opposite, the fall and destruction of the Anglo-Saxon race” (149). Although Dixon was a liberal abolitionist in the South, he did not think that the black’s participation in politics was proper. After the abolition of slavery, lives of the white were suppressed as civil rights were provided to the black and a low-income group of the white called White Trash increased. It can be said that he came to be strongly proud of himself as a southern white and Scottish descent, since Dixon was faced with lowering of the status of his family who belonged to Presbyterian Church.

In the essay “Booker T. Washington and the Negro” published in Saturday Evening Post, Dixon suggests that the black and the white are fundamentally different: “No amount of education of any kind, industrial, classical or religious, can make a Negro a white man or bridge the chasm of centuries which separate him from the white man in the evolution of human nature” (qtd. in Saxon 150).

This attitude affects The Clansman too. Dixon portrays Austin Stoneman who makes an effort to give the blacks civil rights and suffrages in the Reconstruction as a narrow-minded person who gets angry when Silas Lynch, the mulatto who Austin Stoneman has protected hopes to marry his daughter Elsie.
The Clansman had emphasized the contrast between warm South and cold North by rechristening Thaddeus Stevens, “Thaddeus Stoneman”—the man of stone; the radical republican who is the obdurate villain of the picture. He has a clubfoot and moves angularly and mechanically; his house, his dress, are gloomy, dark, cold, as opposed to the warmth and lightness of the Southern planation garments and scene. (Carter 351)

The character of Austin Stoneman is based on Thaddeus Stevens who was most hated in the South for promoting racial equality. This suggests that Dixon tries to criticize the North. On the other hand, the Camerons in the South are portrayed as victims of the blacks who were given freedom by the northerners.
The Cameron family of the Old South were the principal victims; Gus, a renegade Negro ravished Marion Cameron, the sixteen-year-old universal favorite who embodied the grace, charm, and tender beauty of the Southern girl. Silas Lynch attempted to violate Elsie Stoneman, the betrothed of Ben Cameron. The actual rape was a climax of a series of figurative violations of the South by the North, one of which was the entry of Stoneman into the black legislature. (Carter 349)

As Carter states, the story reaches climax in the scenes of Gus making sexual advance to Flora and Silas Lynch asking Elsie to marry him. Dixon argues that slave emancipation released sexual desires of the blacks which should be completely excluded. The Birth of a Nation portrays negative stereotypes of the blacks: “Silas Lynch, the carpet-bagger had evidently inherited the full physical characteristics of the Aryan race, while his dark yellowish eyes beneath his heavy brows glowed with the brightness of the African jungle” (Dixon 93).

Fig. 1

Figure 1 is the scene of Elsie fainting from being asked to marry Silas Lynch. The mulatto, Lynch’s character includes savageness and viciousness of the black who abandoned the intelligence of the white:
The descriptions of Gus as “tiger-like” brings us to the last element of the Plantation Illusion, the defense of the system on the basis of the essential non-humanity of the Negro. . . the picture projects this attitude by its shots of the eyes of Negro displaying animal lust and ferocity, and by its view of Gus as a slinking animal, waiting, crouching, springing. (Kinney)

Also, the cut of Gus chasing around Flora emphasizes his acts, sexual desire and viciousness like an animal. The main black parts like Gus and Lynch are acted by blackfaces. Compared with Lynch in Figure1, Gus in Figure 2 seems to wear black make-up more thickly. It means that Dixon insists to instill the stereotype in audience’s mind which the blacker he is, the more savage he is.

Fig. 2

This accident promotes people’s anti-black feelings and leads to the establishment of the KKK. Figure 3 shows a scene of the KKK trying to castrate Gus. The order in the southern society is brought back by the KKK repressing the black. Figure 4 represents the scene of celebrating the victory of the KKK. Dixon describes the KKK as Jesus Christ and points out its justification by emphasizing the brutality of black people.

Fig. 3

Fig. 4

Seeds of discord embedded by the black are finally removed by degrading them to the lowest class again: “That I am a successful revolutionist—that Civilization has been saved, and the South redeemed from shame” (Dixon 374); “Liberty and union, and one and inseparable, now and forever!” (The Birth of a Nation). These sentences in the end of the novel and the movie clarify the regeneration of a white nation and racial discrimination policies which kept that society continued until the 1960s. Through the novel and the film, Dixon presents that the ultimate enemy is the black, so all the white need to cooperate and to unite in order to keep their status. He replaces the conflict between the South and the North with the one between whites and blacks.

Lots of people criticized The Clansman and The Birth of a Nation which justified segregation. Dixon asked his best friend since the college days, President Woodrow Wilson, to run previews of The Birth of a Nation at the White House in order to keep down the criticism. Wilson accepted his offer and when he was asked about the movie he answered that “it is like writing history with lightning. And my only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Media’s report of his statement gave people an image that the film was authorized by the American government. Later, Dixon wrote a letter to Wilson’s secretary:
The real purpose back of my film was to revolutionize Northern sentiments by a presentation of history that would transform every man in my audience into a good Democrat! . . Every man who comes out of one of our theatres is a Southern partisan for life . . . This play is transforming the entire population of the North and West into sympathetic Southern voters. There will never be an issue of your segregation policy. (qtd. in Franklin 430)

Dixon’s purpose for the book and the filmization is to provide the new collective memory to all the American citizens. Until then, there were different cultural bases between the South and the North. Foe the first time, The Birth of a Nation provided people not with the divided memory but with the integrated memory, which became regarded as the memory of American history, working as propaganda. In the early 20th century when Dixon wrote The Clansman, the status of the southern white had been degraded even 40 years after the Civil War when the black got civil rights. Therefore, Dixon presented the necessity of elimination of the black and of politics dominated only by the white for the Reconstruction. In American society at that moment, racial segregation that deprived the black of their rights to vote was established and black people were actually degraded to the lowest status, and then violence toward them started to decrease. I think that 1915 when The Birth of a Nation was released is the year of the rebirth of America as a white nation.

2. Anti-Tom Novels and the Great Depression
How did Dixon’s The Clansman and The Birth of a Nation influence Margaret Mitchell? Before discussing it, let me reconstrue the connection between Mitchell and Dixon. In Chapter 58 of Gone with the Wind, “The Leopard’s Spot,” the title of the first novel of Dixon’s Trilogy of Reconstruction, is used in Rhett Butler’s utterance: “Not a change of heart at all. Merely a change of hide. You might possibly sponge the spots off a leopard but he’d remain a leopard, just the same” (Mitchell 1350). Judging from this quote, it is certain that Mitchell was particularly aware of Dixon. Also, according to Helen Taylor, Mitchell was a big fan of Dixon’s works and they exchanged letters. This proves the strong connection between them.
After the publication of Gone with the Wind, Dixon wrote Mitchell a letter of praise, saying he wished to write a study of the book. She responded in fulsome assuring him ‘I was practically raised on your books, and love them very much.’ She was also a great fan of Griffith film; its huge success was almost certainly a spur to her own decision to chronicle the fortune of postbellum southern families in an epic and romantic form. (Taylor 122)

Next, I examine how their connections did appear in Gone with the Wind concretely. “The South must prettify the institution of slavery and its own reaction, must begin to boast of its own Great Heart” (Cash 83). Cash suggests that the South needed to romanticize the relationship between white owners and their slaves against criticism from the North. Even though they actually have close relationships, it is the undeniable truth that slavery itself is based on the relationship of domination and submission. The southerners had pricks of conscience about this inevitable fact. Thus, it was necessary for the South to present that there was a beautiful relationship between owners and slaves in order to lacquer the fact. It shows that Mitchell also had a southern tendency to romanticism caused by conflict with the North. Also, Mitchell focuses on the brutality of black slaves as Dixon does:
It was a big ragged white man and a squat black negro with shoulders and chest like a gorilla . . . The negro was beside her, so close that she could smell the rank odor him . . . she felt his big hand at her throat and, with a ripping noise, with a ripping noise, her basque was torn open from neck to waist. Then the black hand fumbled between her breasts, and terror and revulsion . . . . (Mitchell 1110)

This is the scene of Scarlett being ravished by the black male. Mitchell compares the black to an animal and his violence to the white woman emphasizes that black people are vicious and have a high sex drive, which results in promoting rightfulness of the KKK. “It was the large number of outrages on women and the ever-present fear for the safety of their wives and daughters that drove Southern men to cold and trembling fury and caused Ku Klux Klan to spring up overnight (Mitchell 914).” Mitchell repeatedly claims that the KKK is right because the KKK was established to decrease a larger number of physical assaults on white women by black slaves. This precisely shows the way individualism justifies violence.

In terms of romanticism which emphasizes the beautiful relationship between owners and slaves, the brutality of black slaves in Gone with the Wind and individualism which tolerate violence, Helen Taylor points out Dixon’s intention was taken over by Mitchell:
Blacks are either loyal darkies or they are greedy, grasping, insolent beasts who as state legislators eat and drink with feet on the desk, and gang-rape white women. Whites are repeatedly seen as ‘helpless’ in the face of ‘crazed negroes’; especially after the rape of a young girl who commits suicide, the Ku Klux Klan is seen as the only organization fit to save the South form Anarchic Black rule. (Taylor 123)

Dixon sees KKK as Jesus Christ for the Reconstruction in The Clansman. As I explained above, the lives of southern whites were still difficult 40 years after the Civil War. Thus, Dixon described the rebirth of America as a white nation by presenting the necessity of elimination of the black and of politics dominated only by the whites for the Reconstruction. Dixon’s intention including Proto-Dorian convention can be applied to Gone with the Wind. Since the 1930s when Gone with the Wind was published was during the Great Depression and under the threat of communism, white people are very concerned about their economic and political situations. In the South under such situation, Proto-Dorian convention functioned and discriminating the black relieved their anxiety. Gone with the Wind romanticized the slavery system by asserting the necessity of KKK and describing a beautiful relationship between whites and blacks so that it eased whites’ feelings of guilt for discriminating the blacks. That is to say, Mitchell tried to relieve the anxiety of white southerners in the 1930s by justifying the elimination of the blacks.

3. Ku Klux Klan and Donald Trump
How have these Dixon’s and Mitchell’s legacy been reflected in the contemporary American society? I would like to tackle this through examining connections between the KKK and the president-elect, Donald Trump. November 1, 2016, KKK’s official newspaper supports Donald Trump for president:
“Make America Great Again!” It is a slogan that has been repeatedly used by Donald Trump in his campaign for the presidency. You can see it on the shirts, buttons, posters and ball caps such as the one being worn here by Trump speaking at a recent rally.... But can it happen? Can America really be great again? This is what we will soon found out! While Trump wants to make America great again, we have to ask ourselves, “What made America great in the first place?” The short answer to that is simple. America was great not because of what our forefathers did—but because of who are forefathers were, America was founded as a White Christian Republic. And as a White Christian Republic it became great. (The Crusader)

The Crusader supports Trump’s slogan, “Make America Great Again!” and mentions that America can be great again as a White Christian Republic. This slogan derives from Ronald Reagan’s 1980 campaign slogan, “Let’s Make America Great Again.” In addition, Trump was criticized for not denying an endorsement from David Duke, former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan when he appears on CNN:
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper to “unequivocally condemn” Duke, Trump claimed ignorance. “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, okay?” Tapper repeatedly pressed Trump to disavow Duke and the KKK, and Trump declined. Later Trump claimed that he had trouble hearing the question. (Fortune)

Trump stated that he did not even know about the KKK, but other candidates harshly accused him of refusing to condemn the KKK. Accepting Duke’s endorsement means that Trump admits the most hated group, KKK that desires white nationalism and alt-right movement to mainstream politics. Since he thought that it would count against his election, he obscured his answer to Jake Tapper. Duke states that he primarily spread Trump’s “America First” policy. On his Twitter account, he mentions that “Great Trump Speech, America First! Stop Wars! Defeat the Corrupt elites! Protect our Borders!, Fair Trade! Couldn’t have said it better!” After this news reporting, media reported new information that Trump’s father was arrested after a Klan riot in Queens in 1927.

In the mid-2000s, the KKK got active again, reacting against immigration issues and endorsement of same-gender marriage and it became a group of about eight thousands people. It is also reported that the KKK joins their hands with neo-Nazi. Although the KKK has caused various movements, they are all based on their fears of “another species.” At present, they develop a critical feeling about the erosion of whites’ population by increase in immigrants. Trump also takes a tough stance on immigration: “We are going to build a great border wall to stop illegal immigration, to stop the gangs and the violence, and to stop the drugs from pouring into our communities” (Trump). Thus, the KKK enthusiastically supports Donald Trump who set up an anti-foreign policy on illegal immigrants from Mexico and of Muslim countries.

Why is Trump still so popular even though he draws lots of criticism for the connections with the KKK and for his racial abuse? There are two reasons: populism and anti-intellectualism of his politics:
Trump styled himself as a populist during his flamboyantly provocative campaign, claiming to hear, understand and channel the working-class Americans so wrongly ignored by other leaders. (The New York Times
He is going full-bore anti-intellectual, and it might work. It clearly resonates with his base and may reach beyond that. People are pretty fed up with ‘experts’ these days. (The Christian Science Monitor)

Populism is a political strategy in which a charismatic leader appeals to the masses while sweeping aside institutions. Widespread use of the term, populism dates from the 1890s, when America’s Populist movement pitted rural populations and the Democratic Party against the urban Republicans. Anti-intellectualism promotes hostility toward and mistrust of intellectuals and elites, minimizing their values. In the contemporary America, working-class people have distrust toward the situation that only those who graduated from elite universities dominate politics and their opinions are never reflected in politics. Trump has gotten popular more and more by appealing to the working-class people who have such discontent.

The media often points out white supremacy as the connection between Trump and the KKK. That is to say, it overlapped Trump’s tough stance on immigration with antiforeignism of the KKK and discover the white supremacy as the trait common to them. However, the white supremacy is not the only common ground between them: growing conservatism and revivalism due to white people having lower social status is another important connection. In the presidential campaign, Trump repeatedly said that “make America great again,” and “I am your voice.” It implies that he will make America the whites’ and they will come first once again. In fact, he replaces the people’s mistrust toward politics with a feeling of loss and emphasizes bringing back radical America, bringing back America from the first African American President, Barack Obama. The aspiration for the good old days of America was also a driving force in the rise of the second KKK. In The Klan Unmasked, William Joseph Simmons, the founder of the second KKK states:
The old America of our fathers is everywhere fading from sight. The new America is full upon us. And that new America is rapidly becoming a stench in the nostrils of the decent and intelligent minority. We Americans must change our ways. We need a great revival—a revival of common sense and healthy-mindedness. . . . We are not going ahead. We are going backward. (Simmons 180)

Simmons criticizes the loss of the good old America and warns of the need to go back again to the past in order to get over it. The KKK condemned the situation that only intellectuals and liberalists dominated the society in terms of anti-intellectualism and insisted that the traditional common citizens regained the power. Considering that millions of people supported the second KKK at that time, it is clear that the connection between the KKK and Trump is conservatism and the revival of good old America.

In reaction to lowering percentage of population and employment rate of the white people due to the expansion of immigrants, Trump takes the anti-immigration stance for the working-class white people. Besides, he tries to change the society where only intellectuals and elites dominate and the working-class whites are deprived of their rights. As a result, he won the presidential election, putting up the slogan “Make America Great Again!” This idea can be applied to Gone with the Wind, The Clansman and The Birth of a Nation. Trump raises the policy to remove the immigrants in order to take the middle class whites back to the original status through emphasizing criminality and viciousness of the immigrants:
When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending their best. . . .  They’re sending people that have lots of problems, and they’re bringing those problems. . . . They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people. (Trump)

Likewise, in The Clansman, Dixon wrote about the revival of America as a white nation through describing the bestiality of black slaves and justifying the KKK who tried to eliminate them. Also, in Gone with the Wind, Mitchell emphasizes yearning for good old America before the Civil War when the southern whites were enjoying their advantages. She describes the beautiful relationship between the whites and the black slaves in the antebellum South and romanticizes slavery system so that she portrays liberal northerners promoting the emancipation of slaves as villains and justifies racial discrimination. Therefore, the connections between the Trump phenomenon and the works of Dixon and Mitchell are not only white supremacy, but also the mind of “Make America Great Again!,” which represents Trump’s intention to do away with immigrants and to revive America where the working-class whites can bring their power back and Dixon’s and Mitchell’s intention to insist on the need to go back to the good old America. In view of this fact, the current Trump phenomenon is overlapped with the Reconstruction era.

4. Trump’s Victory Turning into Another “Lost Cause”
In his CNN article, John Blake suggests that “Trump’s victory may mark the resurgence of the Old South in another more sinister way: The return of ‘racial amnesia.’” As I stated above, Trump’s triumph is now being described mostly as a revolt by white working-class voters and racism, sexism and religious bigotry had little to do with it. People making this argument are following another group of Americans who made history disappear. After the Civil War, “Lost Cause” propagandists from the Confederacy argued that the war was not fought for slavery. In other words, it was a constitutional clash over state’s rights and hatred toward blacks had nothing to do with it. The Confederate groups started to spread the myth and so did storytellers. The Birth of a Nation and Gone with the Wind represent the Lost Cause story. Both recast the antebellum South as a moonlight and magnolia paradise of happy slaves, affectionate slave owners and villainous Yankees.

Some historians say that supporters of Trump and the Old South both obscure the relevance of race. Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, Joseph Ellis explains: “The constitutional interpretation explanation disguised what really happened in the Civil War”; “Similar interpretations of Trump’s victory also obscure the unattractive and ugly forces that are now present” (qtd. in Blake). So many Southerners embrace such a big lie partly because of their embarrassment. They had to decontaminate history by recasting what they did as a noble cause. They also wanted to look good to their children and future generations. In “The Myth of the Lost Cause and Civil War History,” Civil War historian, Alan T. Nolan writes that “The Lost Cause was expressly a rationalization, a cover-up.” Some historians indicate that the Lost Cause is rising again now. Those who deny that racism and xenophobia were central to Trump’s victory are engaging in another Lost Cause cover-up. Ellis states that “Anybody who says that the recent election is not, at least in part, a racial event is functioning as an apologist, whether they know it or not, for white prejudice” (qtd. in Blake). According to Brogan Morris, a political commentator, the Lost Cause persisted since Northern white voters knew they would not pay a cost for embracing the myth. Some white Trump voters are following the same logic: “If you’re a white man, you can overlook Trump’s Islamophobia, his Hispanophobia, his sexism, because it’s never going to affect you directly. That’s voting from a place of privilege, the privilege of being a born a white man” (“This Election was All about Race, But Not the Way We Thought”).

However, why did so many people who once supported Obama go for Trump? Four Northern states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, turned to Trump. Some people believe that Trump was not chosen by a racist, but by millions of Americans desperate for real change and Trump convinced those people. In contrast, Ryan D. Enos, a researcher in Harvard University proves that:
“If you live in a segregated area and all of a sudden a new population shows up, these are the conditions for activating racial threat. Racial threat is a general term that describes when somebody is threatened by the close proximity of an out-group.” (Washington Post)

It means that even white liberals’ racial attitudes shift when they perceive people of color moving into their area. This phenomenon occurs due to the Proto-Dorian convention. I assume that the increase in immigrants to America changed their racial thoughts and drove them to vote Trump. Some whites in the early 20th century also felt a sense of racial threat because millions of blacks had run away from the racial repression in the South for Northern cities. “The more that whites encountered these migrants, the more their true racial attitudes were revealed,” says Caroline E. Janney in Remember the Civil War. Likewise, some white Americans have felt that their positions were invaded by the changes in population enforced by Obama.

The Lost Cause stories were eventually discredited, but it took almost a century for historians to reject the myth. Also, the Lost Cause propagandists such as Mitchell and Dixon did not just make history change. They made people suffer from the change of history as well. Their myth promoted racial segregation in the South and distracted Americans from facing the racist ideology, which led to the reign of Jim Crow. “The region lagged behind the rest of the nation in economic and educational development for nearly a century after the Civil War—in part because the South refused to face its own racism” (Blake). If people are unwilling to accept Trump’s racism as people did in the Reconstruction time, arriving at some truth about Trump’s victory will be elusive and immigrants will spend harsh times for many years. Unless people today face the country’s myths about race, they will not be able to reconcile with Trump’s election and it could become another Lost Cause.

Chapter 4.
Scarlett O’Hara: The Symbol of the New Woman

In Chapter 3, I clarified the connection between Gone with the Wind and The Clansman and proved that the legacy of Dixon’s and Mitchell’s are reflected in Donald Trump. The Reconstruction era and the contemporary American society are both in the midst of turbulent times when the whites suffer from the slip in their positions and the conflict between liberalists and conservatives. However, in Gone with the Wind, Mitchell described a woman who strongly survived such a harsh time. In this last chapter, I will examine the protagonist of Gone with the Wind in terms of gender and feminism. Through comparing Scarlett O’Hara and Melanie Hamilton Wilkes, I would like to consider how the strong independent new woman, Scarlett gave an impact on women in the 1930s.

1. Melanie as “Southern Belle” and Scarlett as “New Woman”
Mitchell foregrounded the contrast of two female characters: Melanie Hamilton Wilkes is the traditional female and “Southern belle,” whereas Scarlett O’Hara is the “new woman” of the novel. The southern belle derived from the French word “belle,” “beautiful” is a character representing a young woman of the antebellum Deep South’s upper class. The Southern belles were expected to marry respectable young men, and become graceful ladies of society dedicated to the family and community. On the other hand, the New Woman was a feminist ideal that emerged in the late nineteenth century and had a profound influence on feminism well into the twentieth century. Women regarded as the New Woman were involved with suffragette movement and pushed the limits set by male-dominated society.

Mitchell used to have lots of male friends, getting along with male colleagues when she was working at the Atlanta Journal. Mitchell’s mother was an active feminist who took Mitchell to the women’s rights movement gathered by Carrie Chapman Catt who was famous for an American women’s suffrage leader and campaigned for the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which gave U.S. women the right to vote in 1920. Mitchell was taught to behave in an elegant manner and become a socially proper woman like the Southern belle, while she was raised to question the male-dominated society and the enslavement of women. Although she has never talked about feminism in public, it is easy to assume that upper-class people in Atlanta and her working female friends faced the problem of women’s right. Surrounded by such environment, what did Mitchell want to express to readers through the two women, Scarlett and Melanie?

Melanie Hamilton Wilkes is Ashley Wilkes’ wife who Scarlett feels well-disposed to and also a sister of Charles Hamilton who Scarlett marries first. Melanie represents the traditional image of the Southern belle and has a personality totally different from Scarlett’s:
A southern woman is compliant, deferential, sacrificial, nurturant, domestic, quietly and uncontroversially intelligent, chaste, beautiful, cultured, religious and loyal to her region and to its definition of herself . . . in short, she is Melanie Wilkes. (Kreyling 591)

Mitchell portrays Melanie as an innocent and devoted woman who brings a feeling of happiness: “her riotous dark curls subdued to matronly smoothness and a loving smile of welcome and happiness on her heart-shaped face” (212). Even though Scarlett is fond of Ashely, approaches him and nurses jealousy against Melanie, Melanie longs for Scarlett as if she is her real sister and screens Scarlett from blame. When Scarlett says that she does not have any female friends, Rhett Butler replies that “You forget Mrs. Wilkes. She has always approved of you up to the hilt. I daresay she’d approve of anything you did, short of murder” (Mitchell 948). Melanie’s expansivity, innocence and warmth represent the ideal southern woman during that time.

On the contrary, Scarlett is described as an alert, calculating, and greedy egoist, who has a self-centered personality, a strong will and pride never to bow to any difficulties. According to Eliza Russi Lowen MacGraw, Scarlett is not feminine:
“Scarlett” is Irish and male-identified as a surname as opposed to the girlish “Katie” with which she is christened. Scarlett remains very much the “child of Gerald” throughout the novel as Mitchell attributes her gender manipulations—or, Irishness—to Gerald’s influence. (McGraw 125)

Scarlett is a daughter of Gerald O’Hara who is an Irish immigrant and built up a fortune in his lifetime and Ellen O’Hara who has a father born to a family of French nobility as the owner of a farmer. Scarlett has a manlike fiery temper inherited from the Irish father: “At sixteen, thanks to Mammy and Ellen, she looked sweet, charming and giddy, but she was, in reality, self-willed, vain and obstinate” (Mitchell 59). Scarlett tries to hide her inner face in the first half of the story:
“She knew how to smile so that her dimples leaped, how to walk pigeon-toed so her wide hoop skirts swayed entrancingly, how to look up into a man’s face and then drop her eyes and bat the lids rapidly so that she seemed a-tremble with gentle emotion. Most of all she learned how to conceal from men a sharp intelligence beneath a face as sweet and bland as a baby’s.” (Mitchell 59)

Since she was taught to be an admirable lady just like the Southern belle, she behaves herself in a way that pleases men in order to conceal her sharp intelligence. In contrast, she actually acts in accordance with a traditional male value and continues to violate the norms of the South:
She not only becomes an aggressive and successful businesswoman, but she steals her sister’s only beau, Frank Kennedy, and marries him for his money; she exploits convict labor to increase profits from her sawmill; and she even offers her body to Rhett Butler for money to pay overdue taxes on Tara. (Faust 12)

In the male-dominated society in Atlanta after the Civil War, it is revolutionary for women to manage a company on an equal footing with men. Scarlett jumps into man’s world and competes with them in business although she needs to be protected from and dedicated to her family, so she looked cold. Offering her body to Rhett to pay taxes is also far beyond the southern norm. In this way, Scarlett makes light of all the norms of the southern family and society and ignores what her mother taught her about how women are supposed to be in order not only to survive but also to prosper during the Reconstruction.

As observed above, Mitchell places the traditional Southern belle in Melanie and the New Woman in Scarlet in contradiction to one another. “Melanie does continue to be true to her inherited ideas of womanhood while Scarlett proudly changes with the times” (Adams 73). In the end of the story, Melanie passes away during her second pregnancy, leaving her child and husband in charge of Scarlett. This result implies that Melanie represents the old world which was forced to be dismissed by the advent of the new social order in the Reconstruction.

I think that Mitchell shows readers a victory of a woman who is strong and independent as Scarlett survives the antebellum South, and a defeat of a traditional and submissive woman through describing Melanie’s death. The independent female figure of Scarlett was much influenced by the New Woman around the civil rights’ movement in the 1920s and free spirits of flappers that writers of Lost Generation portrayed. According to Helen Taylor, after Gone with the Wind was published, Scarlett O’Hara was regarded as the symbol of the New Woman linked with the new city, Atlanta, the new people such as carpetbaggers and the new economic. Furthermore, Scarlett was approved by female workers and mothers in the 1940s, women’s liberationists in the 1960s and post-feminism of me generation in the 1980s.

2. Scarlett’s Irish Identity in the New South
One of the reasons why Scarlett can survive the turbulent Reconstruction is her ethnic identity as an Irish American: “Irishness prevents Scarlett from entirely representing the Southern belle figure, as much as she may desire to fulfill its criteria” (McGraw 126). Another Irish temperament characteristic is the adhesion to the land. Scarlett says: “For ’tis the only thing in the world that lasts . . . and to anyone with a drop of Irish blood in them the land they live on is like their mother. . . . ’Tis the only thing worth working for, fighting for, dying for” (Mitchell 39). “The O’Haras’ adoration of their home is equally attributable to the Irish legacy. Scarlett inherits her passion for the land from her father, colluding Irish and male-identified impulses” (McGraw 125). As McGraw mentions, Scarlett is able to protect Tara at any cost and get through the harsh times because she inherited the Irish identity from her father.

Also, Irish Americans were treated the same as African Americans in the antebellum North. After the Civil War, this northern value flew into the South and they became equated with the liberated black in the South as well. In Gone with the Wind, Scarlett is asked by a woman if she knows “a good Irish girl” for a servant in Atlanta during the Reconstruction and she replies: “You’ll find no Irish servants in Atlanta. . . . I’ve never seen a white servant and I shouldn’t care to have one in my house” (Mitchell 663). 
To the contemporary South, however, Scarlett’s Irishness holds the possibility of positioning her alongside the Southern “other”—African-Americans. Irish people fought this linkage, and Scarlett represents her fellow Irish people in this respect. (McGraw 127)

Americans had hostilities to Irish people in the South at that times and some people used Irish slaves instead of black slaves. Under this situation, Scarlett had to redefine her identity as an Irish American. As the South during the Reconstruction saw a phase of major change, Scarlett needed to adjust herself not to the South bound by old convention but to the New South. Her economic command and possession of slaves was unable to prove that she was white. Scarlett made a lot of efforts in order not only to survive but also to establish herself as an Irish American and a white woman in the New South. MacGraw concludes:
By deploying Irishness in conjunction with gender, class, and preeminently ethic issues, Mitchell demonstrates that Scarlett’s Irish resolve ultimately grants her endurance as magnolia-white Southern belles such as Melanie Wilkes wither away. Scarlett succeeds because of her blended identity contains a visible amount of traditional and valued Southern whiteness as well as other-tainted strength. (McGraw 130)

Scarlett’s circumstance seems to overlap with that of immigrants under the future Trump administration. Immigrants from Mexico and Muslim will experience harsh times as Scarlett did and will need to establish their identity as Americans unless they are deported outside the country. Scarlett’s figure that strongly survives the tough Reconstruction will bring rays of hope to immigrants today in the U.S.

3. Scarlett O’Hara and the Great Depression
The figure of Scarlett much affected the American society in the 1930s. The figure of independent woman that Scarlett shows through her management of the sawmill is based on the figure of the New Woman in the twentieth century. Mitchell paid attention to how the experience that people reconstructed the South after the loss of the Civil War can be applied to the reconstruction of devastating defeated America itself in the Great Depression in the 1930s. Mitchell represents the way to overcome the Great Depression by showing readers the heroine, Scarlett who strongly and patiently survives the Civil War and the Reconstruction.

Then, how did Scarlett’s woman figure give an impact on women during the Great Depression? “Mitchell created in Scarlett a heroine whose painful choices between new and old roles, between earning money and maintaining custom, were precisely those which faced millions of American women in the 1930’s” (Morton 52). According to Morton, Scarlett was in a similar circumstance to the American women in the 1930s. They were forced to choose between old or new roles: following the old convention and working hard for their money.
[H]er fate is like that of millions of American women during the Depression, for whom scrimping and cutting corners became a way of life. Reduced income changed the lives of all family members, but women, as primary consumers, probably bore the brunt of the change. Theirs was the responsibility of cutting down on food, clothing, and services, of baking the bread or making the clothes once purchased, of accommodating other family members in smaller, cramped living quarters. (Morton 53) 

The Great Depression made American women suffer an income-cut and support their family. Likewise, Scarlett had to sustain Tara and support her family and Melanie’s son in the Reconstruction era. Even though it was unthinkable for women to do business equally with men at that time, Scarlett decided to break the traditional custom and run the sawmill instead of relying on others. On making up the characteristic of Scarlett O’Hara, Mitchell did not base on the Southern belle expected by the spirit of chivalry in the Old South, but on the rebellious idea of the New Woman in the end of 1920s. The working woman figure that Scarlett represents resonated strongly with American women in the Great Depression.
American women during the Depression faced Scarlett’s options: living like “ladies” in genteel poverty or losing their femininity (and perhaps their husbands) by working outside the home. Statistics indicate that despite fewer job opportunities and despite public hostility, a very significant number of married women chose to work, deciding, apparently, as Scarlett does, that the “lady” was as lost a cause as the Confederacy. (Morton 56)

As Morton suggests, in fact, the American women faced with two choices: living as women or giving up femininity and working outside the house. Since under the Great Depression, so many men lost their jobs because of the destructive financial pressure, the married working women were despised as those who deprived men of jobs in the American society. Even in such a harsh situation, lots of married women decided to work and sustain a household as Scarlett did. Through the figure of Scarlett representing “the married working woman,” Mitchell intended to encourage a lot of women who suffered from a disdainful look on them and gave them a hope of success. Gone with the Wind still remains a best-selling book of all-time. I think that Scarlett will continue to offer rays of hope to Americans, particularly to immigrants living in the United States, who are now despised and about to be banished from their country due to the policy by Donald Trump.


The 1930s when Gone with the Wind was published saw a great change. In the 1930s, shifts in economics, morality and social values all took place during the Great Depression. As economic conditions made life difficult for many Americans, entertainment became a means of escape. In a world that was bitter and uncertain, consumers enjoyed entertainment that allowed them to be somewhere else and experience something apart from the reality of their everyday lives. Moral ideology became more conservative in the area of race, but a sense of openness, particularly in the area of sexuality, was developing.

This is the culture where Gone with the Wind was received. Although Mitchell based the events of the novel largely upon local history, the sense of escapism of the novel attracted sympathy of millions of Americans and it instantly became a best-seller. The Defeat of the Confederacy and the Burning of Atlanta followed by the Reconstruction represented the Great Depression era itself. Though some attacked the novel for its ideology, particularly in the aspect of race, the enormous popularity indicates that most people did not take issue with the novel’s ideals.

Because of the emancipation of slaves, the southern society fell into crisis and people built animosity to the North and to the novels which suggested the evil of slavery such as Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Then, the Anti-Tom Novels that admire the antebellum South which possesses slavery and justify slavery were published for these people after the Civil War. Thomas Dixon’s The Clansman, the bestseller in the 1920s South that heroicized the KKK and Gone with the Wind represented the spirit of the genre. As a work of propaganda, The Clansman and its film, The Birth of a Nation revived America as a white nation and provided readers a new memory of American history. In the early 20th century when Dixon wrote The Clansman, the status of the southern white had been degraded even 40 years after the Civil War when the black got civil rights. Therefore, Dixon presented the necessity of elimination of the black and of politics dominated only by the white for the Reconstruction.

In Gone with the Wind, Mitchell took over Dixon’s intention and described the Civil War and the Reconstruction, reflecting the mind of the South. In terms of romanticism, Mitchell emphasizes the beautiful relationship between owners and slaves and the brutality of black slaves so that she justifies the slavery system and the KKK. She also had a southern tendency to individualism caused by conflict with the North. She repeatedly claims that the KKK is right because it was established to decrease a larger number of physical assaults on white women by black slaves. This precisely shows the way individualism tolerates violence. Besides, in the South under the Great Depression that white people are very concerned about their economic and political situations, the Proto-Dorian convention functioned, discriminating the black relieved their anxiety. Gone with the Wind romanticized the slavery system by asserting the necessity of the KKK so that it eased whites’ feelings of guilt for discriminating the black. In other words, Mitchell intended to relieve the anxiety of white southerners in the 1930s by justifying the elimination of the black.

Furthermore, through examining the connection between the KKK and Donald Trump, I revealed that an intention of Trump’s policy is similar to that of Dixon and Mitchell. November 7, 2016, Trump did win the US presidential election. Many working-class white Americans continue to be mesmerized by Trump and media shows that more than half of Trump supporters are white Americans without a college degree. It suggests that white supremacy is not the only common ground between the KKK and Trump: growing conservatism and revivalism due to white people under the threat of having a lower social status is another important connection. Trump questioned the legitimacy of Barack Obama’s presidency while claiming “Make America Great Again!” This phrase infers the restoration of white privilege that would mean taking the country backward. Likewise, in The Clansman, Dixon wrote about the revival of America as a white nation through justifying the KKK who tried to eliminate them. Also, in Gone with the Wind, Mitchell emphasizes yearning for the good old America before the Civil War when the southern whites were enjoying their advantages. Thus, the connection between Trump, Dixon and Mitchell highlights the mind of “Make America Great Again!,” which represents Trump’s intention to remove immigrants and to revive America where the working-class whites can bring their power back. Moreover, I clarified that the current Trump phenomenon is overlapped with the Reconstruction era in that they are both “Lost Cause” represented by the works of Gone with the Wind and The Clansman. Supporters of Trump and the Old South in their novels both obscure the relevance of race. Both novels romanticize slavery and describe the antebellum South as a magnolia paradise and villainous Yankees who destroy it. Trump’s supporters now say that Trump’s victory is not indebted to racism, but to his policies addressed for the rise of working-class whites. Unless people today face the country’s myths about race, they will not be able to reconcile Trump’s election and bear another Lost Cause.

The Reconstruction era and the contemporary American society are both in the midst of turbulent times when the whites face the slip in their social status and people of color suffer from racism. However, in Gone with the Wind, Mitchell described a woman who strongly survived such a harsh time. Even though it was unthinkable for women to do business equally with men during the Reconstruction, Scarlett decided to subvert the traditional custom and run the sawmill instead of relying on others. Her independent woman figure was a role model of working married women in the Great Depression, who faced with the same condition as Scarlett.

In addition, Scarlett’s circumstance seems to overlap with that of immigrants and American women under the future Trump administration. Immigrants from Mexico and Muslim countries will experience harsh racism as Scarlett went through sexism and will need to establish their identity as Americans unless they are deported outside the country. Trump is known not only for racist, but also for misogynist or sexist. He has repeatedly targeted women and female politicians, journalists and actors have faced his verbal abuse. Notion of women’s equality has been promoted so far, whereas Trump’s misogyny would make American people’s attitudes to women unfavorable. Scarlett’s independent and unyielding figure that overcomes sexism and strongly survives the tough Reconstruction will encourage immigrants and women today in America to get over the ordeal. I hope that Scarlett’s female figure will bring rays of hope to them. Also, about myself, I desire to live as strongly as Scarlett, but I will definitely choose both a career and marriage and try to balance work and family, which Scarlett never accomplishes.


Primary Source
  • Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind. New York: Macmillan, 1936. Print. 鴻巣友季子訳『風と共に去りぬ』全 5巻、東京:新潮社、2015年。Print. 

Secondary Sources