"Not many human being think the Gone v the Wind as a mystery, yet I firmly think it belonging in that category..."

Clark Gable as Rhett Butler and Vivien Leigh together Scarlett O"Hara is an epic embrace from the 1939 movie adaptation that Margaret Millar"s historic romance Gone with The Wind.

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The very first line of Margaret Mitchell"s 1939 novel is possibly the most artfully do in modern literature: “Scarlett O’Hara was no beautiful, but men hardly ever realized it when caught by her charm…”

To me, O’Hara is the quintessential instance of Flannery O’Connor’s “mystery the character.” who is this person? What is she qualified of? That very first line asks a question that compels the reader to save going: What exactly is this not-so-beautiful mrs going come do?

Murder, as it comes to pass.

The passage whereby Scarlett death a Yankee invader is a transforming point in the story. Scarlett has returned to she plantation Tara through a an extremely pregnant Melanie Wilkes, Scarlett"s previous rival because that the affections of the well-off Ashley Wilkes. Melanie"s kid birth was difficult, made an ext so by the fallout of civil war. Tara, Scarlett"s home, has actually been looted. Food is scarce. Scarlett and her ilk are finding out firsthand the horrible lives of depravation servants were forced to endure. Then, a Yankee deserter shows up. He rifles Scarlett’s mother’s sewing box looking for gold. And then he sees Scarlett and also threatens come rifle her as well. Her response? She takes the end a gun and shoots the male in the face.

Mitchell to write of the instant aftermath, “Scarlett ran down the stairs and stood end him, gazing down right into the bloody pit whereby the nose had actually been, glazing eyes shed with powder. As she looked, two streams of blood crept throughout the glowing floor, one native his face and one indigenous the back of his head…. She had killed a man.”

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As a writer, ns think this is a perfect example of how valuable sudden, shocking violence have the right to be in a story, even much more so since of what come next: Melanie hears the noise and also runs under the stairs, dragging a saber behind her. She sees the Yankee lied dead on the floor. She look at the pistol in Scarlett’s hand. Your eyes meet. Then, from Scarlett’s point of view: “There was a bright of grim pride in typically gentle face, approbation and fierce happiness in her smile that equaled the fiery tumult in Scarlett’s own bosom. ‘Why—she’s favor me! She understands just how I feel!’ assumed Scarlett…” This shared reaction to the murder offer the story in two ways: it changes Scarlett’s (and the reader’s) check out of Melanie, and it also changes the direction that the story because now, rather of Scarlett being alone in her quest to survive, she has actually a powerful ally. That is Scarlett O’Hara? she’s a wife, a mother, a survivor, a cold-blooded murderer and also at the finish of the day—a friend.

Karin Slaughter is the internationally bestselling writer of several novels, consisting of the give County collection and the will Trent series. According to her very own bio, she splits she time in between the kitchen and the living room in her home in Atlanta, Georgia. Karin Slaughter photograph by Alison Rosa.

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This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" enews July 2013 together a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For an ext special contents available very first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.