Tara in Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind

Arlington in Natchez, Mississippi is an example of an antebellum style plantation house, similar in style to Tara. PHOTO CREDIT: Ralph Clynne. This photo is in the public domain.

“The whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into surf.” 1

In Margaret Mitchell’s Gone with the Wind, Scarlett O’Hara’s family plantation of Tara was located along the eastern bank Flint River in Georgia. The plantation was built by Gerard O’Hara after winning a poker game, and is the setting in which we first meet Scarlett. It is her childhood home, and is a familiar place for her, the beauty of the scenery complimenting her own allure. Scarlett’s love for extravagance and beauty are reflected in the antebellum style plantation that her family owns. Scarlett and the setting are innately tied, both raised by her father’s proud hands.

Throughout the novel, Scarlett is constantly fighting to keep Tara from falling into enemy hands. She marries, works, and lives to provide for her family and wants only to keep her home. However, upon fleeing the war, she finds that Tara had not fully escaped the warring soldiers. The plantation experiences alongside Scarlett, first budding with the lush growth of life, then hardened from fighting the war, and finally restored into a former beauty by Rhett Butler.

Clayton County is approximately five miles east of Jonesboro, Georgia where the final battle of the Atlantic Campaign was fought in 1864. This win by the Union led to a weakening of the Confederacy’s hold over Atlanta, and soon after the Union was able to win the full war. Tara is located in a fictionalized Clayton County during the American Civil War. Margaret Mitchell’s great-grandfather, Peter Fitzgerald, owned a cotton plantation along the Flint River, which likely inspired Mitchell’s description.

Read more about Tara on Wikipedia. Read more about Tara and the Flint River on Brown’s Guide to Georgia. Read about the fate of the Tara set that appeared in the film version of Gone with the Wind on Messynessy Chic. Find Gone with the Wind at a local library or on Amazon.

1Mitchell, Margaret. Gone with the Wind. New York: Macmillan, 1936. Print.

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