DREAMS OF DOGWOOD
Gone With The Wind gets infected with Jungle Fever when a smart, spirited slave realizes her dreams by winning the heart of her beloved plantation owner on her way to earning a university professorship.
“Gone With the Wind” gets infected with “Jungle Fever” when Dogwood, a smart, spirited slave falls hard for the young, handsome plantation owner. Competition with the white bachelorettes is daunting but she is determined to win his heart, and she’s not the kind of girl to let a little thing like slavery get in her way. We fade in to find Dogwood and her mother being transported to a slave auction where they are permanently separated and she is sent to ‘Kingsgate’, her new plantation home. When the owner suddenly dies, Richard, his estranged son, quits his history professorship and relocates to Kingsgate where he hopes to court, marry, and raise a family with a local woman. In contrast to his father’s harsh approach to managing his slaves, Richard institutes progressive changes, including housing upgrades and days off. News of the young and more compassionate “massa” spreads throughout the slave community. When Dogwood discovers that Richard swims daily in the nearby lake, she enchants him by allowing him to discover her there, bathing. From first encounter, their animal attraction is palpable but Richard cannot sully his good name by having a slave in his bed. When he discovers that she is educated he moves her into the house and puts her into training to become handmaid to the future missus, which includes classical piano lessons and continuing her education with him as tutor. Dogwood takes up the study of slavery and during their lively intellectual exchanges, is not shy about challenging Richard on contentious and moral issues. It soon becomes clear that in Dogwood, Richard has met his intellectual match. They develop a close, often intimate relationship, but Richard’s insistence on keeping it non-sexual builds tension. One day, Dogwood is accosted by Henry, the predatory boss man, and Barnabus, his black slave driver, who attempt to drag her off and rape her. Richard spots the confrontation and rushes to her aid. The intervention turns violent and the two men exchange blows. When Richard is knocked unconscious, Henry grabs the hatchet to finish him off. But Dogwood grabs the axe and buries it deeply into Henry’s back, saving her beloved. She is venerated by the slaves for saving them from the abusive Henry, but the following day the sheriff has her in chains for killing a white man. She manages to avoid retribution for her heroism, at least for the time being. Gradually, their bond evolves beyond slavery and skin pigmentation and by war’s onset, she has outwitted and outlasted her competition and proven herself to be his rightful partner. It doesn’t hurt that she’s the smartest girl in the room and commands an affluence of feminine allure, and the savvy to know how and when to call on it. In his words, “you’re my best friend”. In hers, “love knows no particular color”. Richard and his neighbors campaign to have Alabama remain in the Union but civil war erupts and ultimately finds its way to Kingsgate, resulting in the destruction of their home. War’s aftermath brings tragedy to the lives of everyone at Kingsgate, blacks and whites alike. When two former Kingsgate slaves are killed in a massacre, everyone becomes grief-stricken and depressed. When Richard learns that some men are plotting to take Dogwood, to avenge Henry’s death, he sends his bewildered and heartbroken lover packing on a northbound train. With aplomb, grit, and determination, she lands on her feet, earning a PhD and a professorship. Ten years later, Richard shows up for an unannounced visit. And he brought a surprise with him: Dogwood’s long-lost mother. The plan is to convince her to move back home. Dogwood, now an established and published academic, hesitates. But Mama knows best. “You come on back home child. There’s a heap of folks need learning down South.” As credits roll we find the two, back at Kingsgate, bathing together in the big claw foot tub, planning their new adventure; the establishment of Northern Alabama’s first private institution of higher learning for blacks.