Soft Girl Gone Determined - Excerpt from Moon and Sixpense and Gone with The Wind
小女孩总会长大的 - 《月亮和六便士》《飘》摘抄
To improve my English, I read English novels. I recently read Maugham's The Moon and Sixpense, and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind. The result is that although I felt their fine diction and subtlety of expression, I didn't actually learn much English expression, rather my emotions followed the ebb and flow of the novel's plot. Especially the growth and transformation of the characters made me very disturbed. I'll share a snippet here - a description of the little girl who suddenly grows up.
Strickland, the hero of "The Moon and Sixpence", suddenly gave up his stable life, left his wife and children, and decided to be "unrestrained and free". After wandering to Tahiti, he meets Ata, a local girl, small and thin, but loyal and hard-working, who takes care of Strickland all the time. When Strickland was dying of leprosy, he decided to leave Ata and go to the mountains. Here, Ata stopped crying.
Then Ata stood up and faced him (Strickland).
"Let the others go if they choose, but I will not leave thee. Thou art my man and I am thy woman. If thou leavest me I shall hand myself on the tree that is behind the house. I swear it by God."
There was something immensely forcible in the way she spoke. She was no longer the meek, soft native girl, but a determined woman. She was extraordinarily transformed.
Maybe it was love, maybe it was responsibility.
If Ata was transformed by love, the transformation of Scarlet, the heroine of Gone with the Wind, is much more complicated.
Gone with the Wind was Margaret Mitchell's only living work; it is set in the American Civil War.
Scarlett was a "preppy" girl before the war, but after the war and the rebuilding of her home, she became a strong woman who takes on the burdens of her family.
On the night Atlanta was hit by gunfire, Melanie went into premature labor. Scarlett had to take her home Tara overnight, and on the way, she didn't even know if Tara was still there:
Was Tara still standing? Or was Tara also gone with the wind which had swept through Georgia?
This is the 24th chapter of the book, and this is the first time I know the origin of its title Gone with the Wind.
When they returned home, they found that Tara had been looted and Scarlett's mother had died and her father had gone insane. One day Scarlett went out in search of food outside and fainted. She laid on the floor thinking about the past, and when she finally recovered:
When she arose at last and saw again the black ruins of Twelve Oaks, her head was raised high and something that was youth and beauty and potential tenderness had gone out of her face forever. What was past was past. Those who were dead were dead. The lazy luxury of the old days was gone, never to return. And, as Scarlett settled the heavy basket across her arm, she had settled her own mind and her own life.
There was no going back; Scarlett had to move on. She said aloud:
As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again.
Scarlett then took on the burden of her family, worked hard to grow cotton, and even shot and killed a Northern soldier with Melanie. Later Scarlett went through a second marriage and ran a sawmill, and then Scarlett was no longer the girl she once was among the handsome boys.
She was a handsome woman, to be sure, but all that pretty, sweet softness had gone from her face and that flattering way of looking up at a man, like he knew more than God Almighty, had utterly vanished.
Overall the hero and heroine of "Gone with the Wind" were both loved and hated, but Scarlett's transformation was a sobering one.