Throughout time, American Literature has been divided into many categories that we refer to as literary movements or periods. Each literary generation had various characteristics within its stories in which these movement that set it apart from the other literary movements. The Regionalism Period, otherwise known as 'The Local Color Movement' was famous for literature and poems that focused on the characters language, society, and other features particular to a specific region. An excellent example of the works produced during this period is Margret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind which was published in 1937, during the Great Depression.
As said by Anne E. Rowe, the South influenced the Regionalism Period significantly. 'The period has been said to start from the first article in Overland Monthly published in 1868 of Bret Harte's stories of California mining camps, an inconsistent number of contributors of local color stories to national magazines were southerners. The outcome of the Civil War signified the victory of nationalism over regional interests. With the increasing move toward urbanization and industrialization following the war, there was a longing for remaining regional differences. Local color writing, which was regionally, and often rurally, based and usually took the form of short stories intended for mass consumption, met a need for stories about simpler times and faraway places.'('Kate Chopin's The Awakening: Chopin, Realism, and Local Color in late 19th Century America' http://edsitement.neh.gov/printable_lesson_plan.asp?id=523) One major form of regionalism flourished in the South, mostly among the Agrarians of the 1920s and '30s. 'Its supporter contended that their ideas were based on a creative, scientific approach to the cultural, geographic, and economic differences of particular sections of the U.S. This detached view necessitated scholarly antiquarianism in studying the relation of folklore to literature, and led away from realism toward a critical interpretation of historical backgrounds.' (James D. Hart and and Phillip W. Leininger. "Regionalism." The Oxford Companion to American Literature. 1995. Encyclopedia.com. 20 Feb. 2010 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.).
Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for her only novel, Gone with the Wind. This Civil War romance novel was published in 1936 and later made into 'perhaps the most famous film of the era, and one of the most popular of all time in 1939, (511, The Americans, McDougal Little)' with Clark Gable and Vivien Leigh in the roles of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara. The film won the 1939 Academy Award for best picture, plus seven other Oscars. In 1992 author Alexandra Ripley published Scarlett, a sequel to Gone with the Wind authorized by Margaret Mitchell. Margaret Mitchell was born on November 8, 1900. As said by Jane Thomas, 'Mitchell made her own books with cardboard covers and filled them with adventure stories using her friends, relatives, and herself as characters. As she grew older she switched to copybooks, which her mother stored in inexpensive bread boxes. A few of the hundreds of tales that she wrote have survived, including two Civil War tales. When the family moved to Peachtree Street, the young Mitchell attended the Tenth Street School and later Woodberry School, a private school. She branched out to writing, directing, and starring in plays, coercing the neighborhood children to take part. In the same year that she married, Mitchell landed a job with the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine. She used "Peggy Mitchell" as her byline. Her interviews, profiles, and sketches of life in Georgia were well received. During her four years with the Sunday Magazine, Mitchell wrote 129 articles, worked as a proofreader, substituted for the advice columnist, reviewed books, and occasionally did hard news stories for the paper. Complications from a broken ankle led her to end her career as a journalist.' (Jane Thomas" The Margaret Mitchell (1900-1949). 1995. The New Georgia Encyclopedia. 20 Feb. 2010 <http://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org>.).
A major characteristic of the Regionalism Period is the setting. The setting is very significant, and the focus is often on nature and the restrictions it gives. The settings where the novels take place are more often than not inaccessible. In the second chapter of Mitchell's Gone With the Wind, Gerald tells Scarlett, in her time of need, that 'land is the only thing in the world that amounts to anything.' During serious times in the future Scarlett remembers that land, in particular Tara, is the only thing that means anything to her. When Scarlett runs away from Atlanta to go to Tara during the war, she lies homesick in the garden at Twelve Oaks. After lying on the ground to gather her thoughts due to her reality being shattered, she decides to keep moving through her pain to see a brighter tomorrow. Scarlett honors land even over love. When Ashley turns down Scarlett's proposed matter, he gives her a hand full of dirt from her only love, 'Tara'. Holding the clump of dirt, Scarlett gets the feeling that Ashley is absolutely serious. After this moment, every time Scarlett is faced with a difficult situation, she remember Tara, and holding that clump of dirt, then she remembers who she is and finds the inner confidence to keep moving.
Another major characteristic is the similar themes. A lot of local color storties share a celebration of society and acceptance during the times of adversity which is generally the main conflict in every local color story. Also issues between new-age ways versus old-fashioned is often shown by an outsider who wants something from the community. Even though there was immense gender inequality, the women in Mitchell's Gone With the Wind always showed their confidence and intelligence to show that they were not 'weak'. Scarlett is a very sly character, and she has the ability to control anyone she needs to without a problem. After her father becomes sick, she has to take over running the town. So she does exactly that, she then realizes that she is more suited for business than to focus on men. With this mindset, Scarlett becomes a successful business owner, but with this, she forgets that men have it in their psychology to be the breadwinner, and in this relationship, Scarlett is the breadwinner. Another important character is Melanie, although she isn't very bold, her attitude becomes much more confident as the novel continues. She eventually becomes one of the strongest characters in the novel. Melanie, is the character who provides much of Scarlett's strength, but Scarlett herself only realizes this near the end of the novel unfortunately. Melanie also shields Ashley from the 'real world'. Even though she is very passive, she manages to help the re-establishment of Atlanta Society.
Local Color stories are usually concerned with the character's region rather than with the individual, such as how characters may become character types, sometimes old-fashioned or clich'd. The characters are noticed by their habit of being old-fashioned. They are also marked by how they speak, and their personality traits. In local color literature, the protagonists are often unmarried women or young girls. In Gone With the Wind, the main character Scarlett overcomes every hardship because of her determination. She is viewed as a heroine because she was able to survive the Civil War and the Reconstruction without any assistance. Scarlett rebuilt Tara after the Yankees attacked and after that she was able to achieve higher status in politics. While she is doing this, she was able to help her family and friends. However, while Scarlett was overcoming her adversities, she had to become very ruthless at times, which then turned into habit. This resulted in Scarlett becoming an unkind business woman and a bossy wife. Scarlett took the hard route to the top, while other characters made it by exercising self-discipline.
Mitchell's Gone With the Wind begins in 1861, before the Civil War, and then ends in 1871, after the Democrats establish power in Georgia. This novel shows the struggles of the people who lived through the Civil War. The south changes immensely throughout these years. The novel begins in Georgia, where everyone is very kind to each other and it is smiled upon to be extremely humane. The setting later shifts to Atlanta, where the Civil War causes gender discrimination to come into play. When the South lost the war, and the slaves become free, conflicts really begin. The regular life that the southerners were used to had to stop, and that was not going to be easy to change. White men were strongly afraid of Black men, southerners were not fond of profiteering Northerners, and the aristocrats who lost their wealth hated the newly rich. As the story continues, characters such as Scarlett and Melanie are affected by the war. Scarlett turns into a very feminist person due to the gender discrimination, and to keep her optimistic, Melanie was by her side.
Regionalism was a term applied to literature which stressed a special geographical setting and concentrated on the history, manners, and folkways of the area as these help to shape the lives or behavior of the characters.'( James D. Hart and and Phillip W. Leininger. "Regionalism." The Oxford Companion to American Literature. 1995. Encyclopedia.com. 21 Feb. 2010 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.) The characters in Margret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind agree with this statement. When Scarlett runs away from Atlanta to go to Tara during the war, she broke down but after feeling the comfort of the land, she decided to look forward and continue the struggle with the strong belief that she will get through her hard times. Melanie showed increasing strength as the novel continued, and she eventually comes out as the novel's strongest female character, and she was the source of much of Scarlett's strength. Margret Mitchell has greatly influenced the movies with her only story. Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize for her only novel, the best-selling Civil War romance was published in 1936 and later made into 'perhaps the most famous film of the era, and one of the most popular of all time' in 1939.The film won the 1939 Academy Award for best picture, plus seven other Oscars. Even though Mitchell's novel was great, nothing that 'mind-blowing' happened. Gone With the Wind did an excellent job of following the characteristics of the period, especially the trait that the novel is generally centered around overcoming adversity. I believe this trait was probably the most appealing to me, because life in general is usually about overcoming adversities that have been given to you and proving to everyone that you are not what they say you are, but instead, you are who you are. A very key message that I saw in this was a bit clich' but I believe that it is very true. The message is that if you believe to the core that you can get through something, the meaning of life becomes very clear to you, and suddenly everything important will become visible.
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