Mammy has a name and back story. It’s been 75 years since the publication of Margaret Mitchell’s “Gone With The Wind”, and Mammy is getting the attention she deserves (eye rolls). Mammy (now known as Ruth) will be the subject of a soon to be released prequel that will give the back-story of her life.
“Ruth’s Journey,” begins in 1804, when Ruth is brought from Haiti to Savannah, GA. The author, Donald McCaig, who already has two “Gone With The Wind” sequels under his belt, said he wanted a sequel based on Ruth, who he referred to as sharp-tongued, loving, sensitive and deeply moral.
“It was Donald’s idea, instead of doing another sequel, to go backwards,” Peter Borland, the editorial director of Atria (the company publishing the book), said. “He felt that Mammy was such a fascinating and crucial character to the book. He wanted to flesh out a story of her own.”
Borland also went on to say the book will address the previous criticisms Margaret Mitchell received because of the portrayal of Mammy.
Mitchell was criticized for the one-dimensional nature of many African-American characters in the book, particularly Mammy, who cared for the fiery Southern belle Scarlett O’Hara. An unauthorized parody of the classic novel, “The Wind Done Gone,” published in 2001 over the objections of the Mitchell estate, was told from the perspective of a slave whose mother was Mammy.
Mr. Borland said the new book addresses those criticisms head on.
“What’s really remarkable about what Donald has done is that it’s a book that respects and honors its source material, but it also provides a necessary correction to what is one of the more troubling aspects of the book, which is how the black characters are portrayed,” Mr. Borland said.
In an email, Mr. McCaig, 73, who lives on a farm in Virginia, said that he was drawn to write about Ruth because there are “three major characters in ‘Gone With the Wind,’ but we only think about two of them.”
“Scarlett and Rhett are familiars, but when it comes to the third, we don’t know where she was born, if she was ever married, if she ever had children,” he said. “Indeed, we don’t even know her name,” he said. “Ruth’s Journey” also fleshes out the story of one of the more compelling figures in “Gone With the Wind,” Ellen Robillard O’Hara, the matriarch of the clan, who dies at the Tara plantation during the Civil War. Among the other new plot twists Mr. McCaig dreamed up: Ruth, has an early marriage that was not broached in “Gone With the Wind”; and she has a connection to Rhett Butler’s family that explains her hostile behavior toward Rhett later in the classic novel.
Also, coming soon, “Ruth” the movie, staring a really obnoxious, sassy, heavyset black woman. Don’t front, you know it’s bound to happen.