War and violence in Gone With the Wind are presented as awful, unnecessary—and noble. The Confederate deaths are seen as wasteful, the fight as unwinnable, but at the same time the Yankees are straightforwardly evil and bad, and shooting them is presented as a moral good.
The confusion is perhaps due to the fact that the novel is never able to admit that the cause of the war was slavery. As a result, the war seems to be about nothing, a senseless waste of life, which destroys the beautiful Southern society for no reason. There's an old saying that history is written by the victors, but in this case, the defeated are writing the history—and as a result, the war that defeated them is seen as bad. Bummer for Mitchell, a few other books have been written about this time period that beg to differ with her assessment.
Questions About Warfare
- What does the novel present as the cause of the war? Is there any cause?
- Is violence heroic in the novel? Explain your answer.
- What role do women play in the war in the novel?
Chew on This
Rhett needs to fight in the war or else the novel would not consider him a worthy romantic hero.
The war continues after the end of formal hostilities, and the South and the KKK win.