A Close Reading: Scarlett, Mammy, and Pork
Mammy's role is that of a maternal figure within the life of Scarlett As a house slave, her relationship to the family is far closer than that of most. One of the most interesting elements of Mitchell's work is the large role that Mammy plays in the narrative. The opening chapters shows the relationship between. Scarlett has a second maternal influence, Mammy, whom she doesn't revere . argues that Sethe's relationship with her own mother first taught maternal.
If any of you get sick or hurt, let me know. Later, when Scarlett is riding her buggy through shanty-town and is attacked, and Big Sam comes to her rescue, she again seems genuinely happy and grateful to see him. As she rushes away on her buggy wagon, she stops when she realizes that Big Sam is the one who fought off her attackers.
She appears relieved to see him and stops the buggy so that the two of them can escape the seedy shanty-town milieu together.
If Scarlett was as callous as people expect her to be about her slaves and servants, she would've just left Big Sam behind after he fought off her attackers just as she would've, but didn't, leave Prissy behind when the Yankees were closing in on Atlanta.Gone with the Wind (1939) - Mammy shouting
Back at Frank Kennedy's house, as Kennedy gives Big Sam money and instructs him to head straight to Tara to avoid being arrested for this altercation, Vivien Leigh's voice registers a moment of vulnerability and sincerity when she says "Goodbye Sam, and thank you" while Scarlett is busy crying in order to generate sympathy from Frank for being attacked.
At that moment, she's trying to manipulate her husband Frank to feel sorry for her, but she drops her facade long enough to express gratitude to Big Sam for coming to her rescue. I think the fact that Scarlett doesn't take the slaves for granted is the reason why they all continue working for her long after the Civil War has ended.
Unlike the Wilkes', whose slaves never came back after Twelve Oaks was burned down by the Yankees and after the war has ended, the slaves remain a part of Scarlett's household for decades to come as she works hard to help everyone around her rebuild their lives in post-war Atlanta.
Mammy, Pork, Prissy, and Big Sam could have taken other jobs, but they chose to continue working for Scarlett. One could opine that the reason for this is because of their uncertainty of forging new lives for themselves as emancipated slaves in the post-Civil War South, and that would certainly be a valid point to make. But I think a more valid reason is because Scarlett, in her own way, has demonstrated to them that she values their presence in her life and doesn't take them for granted the way the other slave owners may have treated their servants.
At one point, when Scarlett and Ashley argue over the use of convicts as workers at their lumber mill, he sanctimoniously declares that he "will not make money out of the enforced labor and misery of others. However, we never see Ashley throughout the course of "Gone with the Wind" have any meaningful interaction with his slaves, or anyone else in the movie for that matter. Ashley can espouse high-minded ideals of freeing the slaves because, as with everything else in his life, he thinks of his slaves in terms of romanticized abstractions, not as flesh and blood individuals.
Scarlett remains a taskmaster with her servants to the end, but she watches their back just as much as they watch out for hers. I think the moment that sums up Scarlett's relationship with her slaves is the scene, right after the intermission, when Gerald O'Hara Thomas Mitchell complains to Scarlett about how tough she has been with the slaves as they pick cotton in the fields.
Gerald O'Hara makes the cringe-worthy statement, "I've been talking to Prissy and Mammy and I don't like the way you are treating them. You must be firm with inferiors, but you must be gentle with them. But I'm not asking them to do anything I'm not doing myself.
Hill Place: Scarlett O'Hara's Complex Relationship with the Slaves in "Gone with the Wind"
Despite the class differences between their characters, Scarlett is holding them to the same standards that she is holding herself to. If Scarlett indeed felt that they were "inferiors," as her father suggested, she would assume that they were too helpless and ineffectual to assist in her efforts to rebuild their lives after the war. Gerald O'Hara appears to regard the slaves almost as if they were children to be coddled, whereas Scarlett treats them in a straightforward manner like the adults that they are.
Scarlett might lose her cool, and scold or get mad at them, but she never mocks or condescends to them. While I wouldn't go so far as to suggest that Scarlett thinks of them as her equals and, to be honest, she doesn't think of anyone else in the movie, except maybe Rhett, as her equal she also doesn't take them for granted for the reasons I've already underscored.
To be clear, my intent is not to romanticize slavery or "Gone with the Wind's" depiction of it at all.
As stated at the outset, slavery remains a blot on the history of the United States and cannot be rationalized. However, I believe that it's because of the subtle nuances in the depiction of the slaves, and Scarlett O'Hara's interaction with them, in "Gone with the Wind" that many viewers are able to come to terms with aspects of the movie that are genuinely troubling to them. As with any great work of art--and I do consider "Gone with the Wind a great work of art--it's the controversial aspects attached to it that allows it to maintain intrigue and relevancy through the decades.
Scarlett O'Hara's relationship with the slaves--as well as the brilliant performances of Hattie McDaniel, Butterfly McQueen, Oscar Polk, and Everett Brown that brought warmth, humor, and humanity to characters that could have been completely one-dimensional stereotypes--provides a level of balance so that contemporary viewers are able to appreciate the scope and depth of Margaret Mitchell's timeless story that producer David O.
Selznick brought vividly to life over 73 years ago. Copyright and Posted by Hill Place at. Not with Miss Ellen's portiers. Not while I got breath in my body.
Scarlett [grabbing the curtains and tears them down]: Great balls of fire! They're my portiers now. I'm going to Atlanta for that three hundred dollars and I've got to go looking like a queen. Who's goin' to Atlanta wit' you?
Gone With the Wind prequel to tell Mammy's story
That's what you think. I'se goin' to Atlanta with you. With you and that new dress. No use to try to sweettalk me, Miss Scarlett. I'se known you since I put the first pair of diapers on you. I said I'm goin' to Atlanta with you and goin' I is. The threat to Tara is not racial but regional as the Yankees make a bid for controlling the plantation.
In response to this threat, Scarlett, Pork, and Mammy reinforce their investment in both the land and one another. This is clear when Scarlett offers her father's watch to Pork instead of selling it for the money that they desperately need. Her comment, "I can stand everybody's tears but yours," Scarlett places Pork in the role of a surrogate father. Scarlett then goes into the next room to seek counsel with Mammy. Throughout the scene, Scarlett moves about the room but Mammy follows--always standing directly behind her as though her physical proximity is representative of her emotional support.
Their only minor dispute occurs when Mammy challenges Scarlett using her mother's curtains as a dress. For a moment, Mammy aligns herself with the legacy of the family she has served instead of the individual member that needs her more.
Mammy, she is beautiful, isn't she? Did you ever see a prettier one? Well, sir, Miss Scarlett was a might lot that pretty when she come. Mammy, what's that rustling noise I hear. That ain't nothin' but my red silk petticoat you done give me. Nothin' but your petticoat. I don't believe it.
Pull up your skirt. You sure took a long enough time about wearing it. Yes sir, too long. No more mule in horse's harness? Rhett, Miss Scarlett was bad telling you about that. You ain't hold that against old Mammy, is you?
I just wanted to know [pouring another drink for her]. Here, take the whole bottle. Melanie arrives to tell Rhett he can go in and see his baby and the scene ends with Mammy and Melanie talking about how it is a joyful day for the family and how Mammy has diapered three generations of the family. When this scene is read in terms of Lillian Smith's argument, it appears to be a seduction scene.
Rhett Butler, explaining how useless boys like him are while continually pouring Mammy glass after glass of alcohol, is interested in getting Mammy to raise up her skirt and show him her petticoat.
There is no mention of his old Mammy. Rhett is only concerned with the present. And, as strange as it may seem at first, just as Mammy has served as a surrogate mother for Scarlett, she seems to serve as a surrogate Mammy for Rhett.