Gone with the Wind: "And the Cupboard Was Bare"
"Oh, Miss Scarlett, now dat Miss Ellen's in de grabe, whut is we gwine ter do?"
-- Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind
This cathexis between mother and daughter--essential, distorted, misused--is the great unwritten story. Probably there is nothing in human nature more resonant with charges than the flow of energy between two biologically alike bodies, one of which has lain in amniotic bliss inside the other, one of which has labored to give birth to the other. The materials are here for the deepest mutuality and the most painful estrangement.
-- Adrienne Rich, Of Woman Born
Early commentators on Gone with the Wind enjoy recounting its publishing history: how Margaret Mitchell refused to show Macmillan's Harold Latham her manuscript; how she changed her mind and presented herself at his hotel, almost engulfed by stacks of typed pages; how he purchased an extra suitcase to transport her many pages back to New York. 1 Of equal interest, however, is the history of this novel's birth: how it came to be written. In January, 1919, Margaret Mitchell, a freshman at Smith College, received a telegram calling her home to her dying mother. Before Mitchell arrived in Atlanta, however, her mother died, and the nineteen-year-old woman returned home to emptiness. 2 On her father's advice, Mitchell finished her second semester at Smith, then moved back to Atlanta to take her mother's place as "hostess and housekeeper of 1149 Peachtree Street."3 In the seven years