Scarlett with a Side of Sueellen

Welcome to my post for the 2012 Dueling Diva's Blog Hop. In honor of my December book release, Studio Relations, a love story set in 1935 Hollywood, and because I'm a huge Gone with the Wind fan, I had to write about one of my favorite sibling rivalries - Suellen and Scarlett. 
Gone with the Wind runs 238 minutes and Suellen only appears in a handful of scenes. Unlike the youngest O’Hara sister Carreen, Suellen is not portrayed as a sweet or likeable character. The first time the audience see her is when she wants to wear Scarlett’s green dress and doesn’t care about Scarlett’s opinion in the matter. Then, when the South and Tara are in ruins, all she can do is complain and weep over the loss of her status as a lady. Suellen doesn’t come across as an overly sweet character and seems just as spoiled and selfish as Scarlett. If this is the case, then why didn’t Suellen rise like some kind of medieval queen to rival her sister? Because she played by the rules and wasn’t willing to be ruthless.

Unlike Scarlett, Suellen doesn’t step out of the bounds of propriety. She asks her mother’s permission to wear the green dress instead of just sneaking into Scarlett’s room and taking it. At Twelve Oaks, she stands with the popular girls and gossips about Scarlett instead of sneaking off to learn a little something from her older beau. When Mr. Kennedy returns from the war, she doesn’t insist they marry right away but waits for him to establish himself.  Her desire to stay on society’s good side is the whole reason she gets the slap down from Scarlett.

Vivien Leigh Gone Wind Restaured.jpgScarlett isn’t a woman who plays by the rules and she is willing to risk a bad reputation in order to go after what she wants. While Suellen is standing with the popular crowd and staking her claim to her “old maid in breeches”, Scarlett is chasing after her man. During the war, while Suellen stands in the field worrying about her hands, Scarlett is getting her hands dirty and shooting deserters. While Suellen is waiting patiently at Tara for Mr. Kennedy to make enough money so they can marry, Scarlett is scheming her way into his bank account. The last time we see Suellen in the film, she’s being left behind once again as Scarlett takes the Tara servants and heads off to her new house in Atlanta with Rhett Butler.

Instead of envying and cursing Scarlett or crying about becoming an old maid, Suellen should have taken a few lessons from the Scarlett playbook and started playing dirty. If she had, she might have become a force, like Scarlett, to be reckoned with. Can you imagine two wicked O’Hara sisters taking the post-war South by storm? Instead, Suellen sat around following the rules and became the forgotten old maid, the sister we feel sorry for instead of rooting for.


Anonymous said...

Thank you, Georgie Lee! I love that you covered these two for the blogathon, Suellen never gets enough attention for being the diva that she is! And she and Scarlett certainly do their fair share of dueling! Wouldn't it have been great if Suellen had been constant throughout the movie? I can see her and Scarlett eventually getting into an all-out, hair-pulling fight at some point. Thanks so much again for this great post!

Kay said...

This is a great perspective on the "forgotten" sister.Nicely done! I love that film and will watch for Suellen next time. Happy holidays and congrats on your book! I'll look to read that, too.
Warmly, Kay

LĂȘ said...

Being the good sister and criticizing the "different" one has never worked, right, George? If Suellen had been a rival to Scarlett, the film would be even more interesting (and longer!) and they would be a good team to rebuild Tara.
Don't forget to read my contribution to the blogathon! :)

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post! I can't say that I've ever really given much thought to Sueellen, but you've given me something new to think about the next time I watch Gone With the Wind. Thanks!

ClassicBecky said...

Really interesting and overlooked relationship between the two sisters, Georgie, and I'm impressed that you thought of it for this blogathon. Suellen was a big pain in the neck in the book, and even though she wasn't in the movie much, that part of her showed through very well. Your point about the advantages of being a out and out selfish woman, compared to being a passive-agressive woman who was torn between society and what she really wanted, is an excellent one.

I really enjoyed this take on GWTW. Really inspired idea!

silverscreenings said...

I'm glad Suellen received her due. She was kind of a whiner, but it's understandable with a sister like Scarlett. Great post!