Rhett Butler: From Devil-May-Care Scoundrel To Doting Dad

Cropped screenshot of Clark Gable from the tra...

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We meet Rhett Butler early on in the movie.  Standing in the expansive hallway of Twelve Oaks, his animal magnetism and piercing stare attract the attention of Scarlett O’Hara as she climbs the graceful winding staircase with her friends.  Scarlett’s companions inform her that Rhett Butler is the son of an honorable and distinguished family, but “good” girls should avoid him because he is a rogue and a troublemaker. 

While the other young ladies are taking a nap to rest up for the evening’s festivities, Scarlett sneaks downstairs to confront Ashley who, earlier in the day, had announced his engagement to his cousin, Melanie.  Scarlett tells Ashley that she loves him and he says that he loves her as well, but that he is going ahead with his marriage to Melanie.  As the door closes on Ashley, Scarlet throws a vase at the door, shattering it.  As the pieces fall to the floor, Rhett, who had been lying down on the couch, unobserved by Scarlett or Ashley, stands up.

This begins their tumultuous on again – off again relationship.  Throughout the years, we see many different sides of this enigmatic man…shrewd businessman (he makes a fortune as a privateer during the war), compassionate friend (he buys back Melanie’s wedding ring when she donates it to help the Confederate army and returns it to her because he understands how much it means to her), a man who disregards conventions (he pays a large sum of gold to dance with Scarlett even though she is a new widow and it is a definite no-no for her to dance).

However, when Scarlett has their baby, we see a soft and vulnerable side of Rhett. 

There is a saying that when you become a mother, your heart no longer resides inside your body, but is now exposed to the world.  This holds true for fathers as well, because Rhett changes his ways and becomes steady and gentle and concerned with what others think about him and his family.  He wants only the best for little Bonnie and goes to great lengths to insure that the community accept him and think well of him.

Here are a few of the ways Rhett exhibited good parenting skills:

1.     He spent time with his child, joyfully participating with her.

2.     He encouraged his child to try new experiences and to master tasks and skills.

3.     He was supportive if she failed to reach a goal and he understood and respected her fears.

4.      He set limits and rules…he admonished her not to change the jumping bar.

If you’ve seen Gone With The Wind, you know that Bonnie did not listen to her father in this instance.  She raised the jumping bar and her little pony was unable to jump over it and Bonnie was thrown from the horse and killed.  Bonnie’s death creates a chasm between Scarlett and Rhett because each blamed the other.   Unfortunately, this scenario takes place all too often in real life.

Parenting is the most difficult job in the world and the only one I know of that doesn’t require some kind of training or licensing.  We all want to be good parents…and most of us are.   But sometimes (many times) parenting can be frustrating and draining, both emotionally and physically. 

1.     Don’t be ashamed to ask for help if you need some time for yourself…investigate different options…maybe you can watch your friend’s child one afternoon and she will return the favor so that both of you can have an afternoon to yourselves.

2.     If you need information or advice on parenting, there are many support groups, 1-800 help hot-lines, and local community organizations that stand ready to assist you to be the parent you want to be for your child.

Tune in tomorrow for the last post in the Gone With The Wind series…Mammy: Top Marks in Parenting Skills

4 thoughts on “Rhett Butler: From Devil-May-Care Scoundrel To Doting Dad

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