The Help :: Kathryn Stockett

After studying To Kill a Mockingbird , I decided that some educational reading was not to be missed and picked up The Help (of which a Oscar nominated film was made in 2011 – may I also add that this film was super entertaining also :)

Kathryn Stockett’s practical, direct and often humorous writing provides a near-perfect account of the events of the imaginary town of Jackson, Missippi. The three perspective – Skeeter & Aibileen & Minny – offers varyin points of view of the discrimination and injustice suffered by the African-American domestic servants of Jackson. Not only does this allow us to view (‘see’) events as both the victim and perpetrator, it reveals the true rigins of such extreme attitudes causing the attitudes.

Possibly the weirdest thing I like about this book is that it odes not immediately incriminate the ‘White-Americans’ of Jackson but rather, it presents them in a slightly negative light, always giving reason for their discriminatory actions. It’s interesting how the childhood of “Aibileen’s children” is shown to be completely innocent and prejudice-free but as they grow older, they become influence by the society they are surrounded by and the behaviours they are exposed to.

One of the most memorable events from the book, personally, was Skeeter’s “simple error” in a newspaper advertisement resulting in the deposit of numerous toilets on the front garden of Miss Hilly – the antagonist in the novel. It reiterates a concept shown in many texts – that the ‘evil’ ones are perhaps, the most resourceful – I guess, kind of similar to a quote I read online: “The Devil can cite the Scripture for his own purpose.”

Another prominent motif in the book is the boundaries in society and the origins of them. It is presented in two instances: the first, in which Minny and Aibileen discuss the ‘lines’ that they encounter and the second, explaining types of jails, both physical and psychological.

Example One :: Lines

I used to believe in em. I don’t anymore. They in our heads…Lines between black and white ain’t there neither. Some folks made those up, long time ago.

Example Two :: Jails

I think about Yule May setting in jail. Cause Miss Hilly, she in her own jail, but with a lifelong term.

Just as a side not, these quotes are directly from the novel and the language is that of the African-American domestic servants of then Southern America. It is important to note that in this case, “setting” means “sitting”. May I just add, that Yule May is a servants who had stolen from her employer in an attempt to get an education for her children – hope you have a better understanding of the quotes – and the book – now :)


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