This is not a review of the movie Gone with the Wind, though there are elements of that in the dialogue that follows. I think that most people in reviewing Gone would concentrate on the character of Scarlett O’Hara and the development of that character. Whole books could be written (and perhaps have) on that subject.
No, that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the evolution of that phrase, there’s always tomorrow. Some variation of that is uttered several times by Scarlett. At the beginning of the movie, it is said in relation to her love interests. That rather self–centered utterance is not what this is about either.
As the film progresses we witness the utter destruction of a lifestyle, symbolized by Scarlett, the utter destruction of an economy and a people. War, glorious and grand at first, becomes like Frankenstein’s monster—a thing prized then despised. Like a roaring forest fire, eating everything in its path, the war takes the fabric of their lives and tears it to shreds.
For some time I have been thinking more and more of the human cost of the Civil War. As we see images of soldiers of our time with PTSD, I think about the men who returned after the Civil War. Especially those who returned to the south, which bore the brunt of the conflict and destruction. We see pictures of men like Jacob Miller and forget that they were real men; men who came back from the war and had to adjust to civilian life. Do you think that Jacob Miller adjusted to civilian life? I tend to doubt it, as he carried a reminder every day for the rest of his life.
I have loved the Civil War for as long as I can remember—I still do. While I love to study the campaigns, battles and the lives of the men and women involved, I have been finding myself drawn to what life must have been like for those left behind at home during the war and those who were fortunate enough to return home after the war.
I think Gone with the Wind reveals those realities better than any Civil War movie I have ever seen. In truth, the story revolves around the love affair of the two main characters and William Shakespeare would have been proud of Margaret Mitchell and the tragedy that she wove—a tragedy that defined who we are as a nation; a tragedy that lives on in the unsettledness of unresolved issues that continue to haunt us.
And so, we sigh and move on, echoing Scarlett’s refrain, There’s always tomorrow….