One of the grandest and most memorable homes in literature is undoubtedly Tara, the home of the vivacious Scarlett O’ Hara – the heroine of Margaret Mitchell’s evergreen classic Gone with the Wind.
Perched on a hill made from the rich red soil of the ‘Old South’ (as Georgia was once called), surrounded by more than 1,000 acres of cotton fields, complete with bubbling brooks and streams, Tara remains the quintessential southern plantation, firmly entrenched in our minds forever.
With the sounds of horses neighing in the stables, cows mooing in the fields, white geese honking on the emerald green lawns, and the whistles of more than 100 field hands who worked on the vast cotton plantations against the backdrop of a cerulean sky, Tara was rich with the sounds and fragrances that defined the lifestyle of the ‘Old South’.
Leading up to the house was a gravelled driveway, shaded by cedars on either side, creating an arched avenue. The house was covered with lilac wisteria, contrasting with whitewashed brick walls while pink crepe myrtle bushes enveloped the doors.
Inside the house were more than 20 rooms, a parlour, at least two magnificent staircases, a basement, as well as an attic. Scarlett’s room was furnished with “wine-red” mahogany furniture, blue curtains, with white walls and “floors that glistened like glass”; the windows were large, letting in generous amounts of sunshine, complete with adjoining window-seats.
The dining room, where Scarlett spent the most time with her family, was furnished with a heavy mahogany table and sideboards. Candles were lit at dinner time, a typical elaborate Southern fare, which was prepared by Cookie and Prissy (under the adroit supervision of Mammy) in a large kitchen that was situated outside the house, and equipped with a large, old-fashioned stove and oven.
No wonder then that it is Tara that Scarlett thinks of at the end of the novel, when Rhett leaves her heartbroken:
“She thought of Tara and it was as if a gentle cool hand were stealing over her heart. She could see the white house gleaming to welcome her…”
“I’ll think of it all tomorrow, at Tara,” she said aloud, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
– Mamun M. Adil
First published in the DAWN National Weekend Advertiser on March 30, 2008.