"Not many people think of Gone with the Wind together a mystery, however I firmly believe it belong in that category..."

Clark Gable together Rhett Butler and also Vivien Leigh together Scarlett O"Hara is an epic embrace from the 1939 movie adaptation the Margaret Millar"s historic romance Gone with The Wind.

You are watching: First line of gone with the wind

The very first line of Margaret Mitchell"s 1939 novel is maybe the most artfully make in modern literature: “Scarlett O’Hara was not beautiful, however men hardly ever realized the when captured by she charm…”

To me, O’Hara is the quintessential example of Flannery O’Connor’s “mystery of character.” who is this person? What is she capable of? That an initial line asks a concern that compels the reader to store going: What precisely is this not-so-beautiful woman going to do?

Murder, as it involves pass.

The passage wherein Scarlett death a Yankee invader is a turning point in the story. Scarlett has actually returned to her plantation Tara v a very pregnant Melanie Wilkes, Scarlett"s former rival for the affections that the wealthy Ashley Wilkes. Melanie"s boy birth was difficult, made more so through the autumn of civil war. Tara, Scarlett"s home, has been looted. Food is scarce. Scarlett and also her ilk are finding out firsthand the horrible lives of depravation servants were forced to endure. Then, a Yankee deserter mirrors up. The rifles Scarlett’s mom sewing box searching for gold. And also then that sees Scarlett and also threatens come rifle her as well. She response? She takes the end a gun and also shoots the male in the face.

Mitchell to write of the prompt aftermath, “Scarlett ran under the stairs and also stood over him, gazing down right into the bloody pit wherein the nose had been, glazing eyes burned with powder. Together she looked, 2 streams of blood crept throughout the glowing floor, one indigenous his face and one indigenous the back of his head…. She had actually killed a man.”

*
As a writer, ns think this is a perfect instance of how beneficial sudden, shocking violence can be in a story, even much more so since of what comes next: Melanie hears the noise and also runs down the stairs, dragging a saber behind her. She sees the Yankee lied dead top top the floor. She watch the pistol in Scarlett’s hand. Their eyes meet. Then, indigenous Scarlett’s suggest of view: “There was a light of grim pride in normally gentle face, approbation and also fierce delight in her smile that equaled the fiery tumult in Scarlett’s very own bosom. ‘Why—she’s choose me! She understands just how I feel!’ thought Scarlett…” This mutual reaction to the murder serves the story in two ways: it transforms Scarlett’s (and the reader’s) check out of Melanie, and it likewise changes the direction of the story due to the fact that now, rather of Scarlett being alone in her search to survive, she has a powerful ally. That is Scarlett O’Hara? she a wife, a mother, a survivor, a cold-blooded murderer and at the end of the day—a friend.

Karin Slaughter is the around the world bestselling author of numerous novels, consisting of the grant County series and the will Trent series. According to her own bio, she splits her time in between the kitchen and the life room in her home in Atlanta, Georgia. Karin Slaughter picture by Alison Rosa.

See more: We Need For A Cure - Oblivion:Vampire Cure

This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" enews July 2013 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For much more special contents available very first to ours enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.