Gone With the Wind

Color symbolism

Mitchell's use of color in the novel is symbolic and open to interpretation. Red, green, and a variety of hues of each of these colors, are the predominant palette of colors encompassing the character of Scarlett.[119] She is also inextricably linked to white by the color of her skin. Symbolically, red and green have been broadly defined to mean "vitality" (red) and "rebirth" (green),[119] but these are not the only meanings. Mitchell interwove the two colors into her description of the Tara plantation: "red fields with springing green cotton".[15] The red fields are "blood-colored after rains".[14] The whitewashed brick plantation house is virtually nondescript by comparison to the plantation fields and sits like an island in a sea of red.[14] In springtime, the lawn around the plantation house turns emerald green.[52]

For the Irish and others, green in the novel represents Mitchell's commemoration of her "Green Irish heritage", and is evidenced in the novel by Gerald O'Hara pridefully singing, albeit off-key, "The Wearin 'o the Green".[109][120] Scarlett's green-coded Irishness is the strength that ensures she will thrive post-war.[121] Rhett likens Scarlett's strength to the mythological figure Antaeus who stays strong only when he is in contact with his Mother Earth.[29] Scarlett's mythical mother is Tara.[122]

Scarlett is not all green as her name implies the "erotically-charged color", red. The only openly scarlet woman in the novel is the red-headed Belle Watling,[123] whose hair is "too red to be true".[115] Mammy is reluctant to reveal her red petticoat to Rhett,[25] nevertheless she has sexual knowledge akin to Belle Watling.[124] Scarlett, whom Mitchell pits against the grim realities of war, "prostitutes" herself to pay the taxes on Tara. By her name, Scarlett evokes emotions and images of the color scarlet: "blood, passion, anger, sexuality, madness".[125]


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