Helping The Help?

Yesterday afternoon I was sitting in Katz Plaza, finally snagging an available eye-bench, unheard of on a beautiful sunny day, and finished reading the last few chapters of The Help. After reading, like always, I took some notes on the book but looked around to see what was going on around me. Nothing out of the ordinary, but from the world of the book I was just in, the scene around me would have been unheard of.

Original Cover of The Help
If you've read the book or (cheated) and saw the movie first, which was recently in theaters, then you might understand what the scene around me was like. But if not, I'll put it plainly for you. I'm a white girl and around me was a crowd primarily of black people. While I cannot even imagine this ever being a problem, in the time of The Help, I would not have been very welcomed in that crowd and if I was raised "properly" I would have never sat there to beginning with. It blows my mind that people separated themselves in this kind of way for so long because one of the most important people in my life is black and I could not imagine life without him now. Granted, MJ and I still get looks when we're in certain areas but I still don't get it.

Kathryn Stockett's novel is beautiful. Primarily, it is told through the perspectives of three women, two black and one white. (Aibileen, Minny and Miss Skeeter.) And is about them wanting the write a novel from the point of view of the help about the white families they are employed by during the time of the 1960's. I loved how much detail was put in to each one of the characters, they were each so strong and beautiful in their own ways. I loved that each chapter took on a different character's perspective of what was going on, but you could always tell who was talking simply based on how they talked, and how they thought about the others and their daily lives.

I loved the character Aibileen the most. She actually reminded me of MJ's mama over and over again through this book. I just loved that she knew hard times and she got scared when taking big risks, but that her faith always guided her forward. She is just the most powerful character in the book and I'm sure in the movie too, since Viola Davis plays her, which automatically says power-woman in my mind. One of my favorite parts in the novel, which I'm hoping made it to the movie is right after their book comes out and there is a meeting at Aibileen and Minny's church. (For those of you who read the book, you should know what I'm talking about.) Firstly, I love this part because of the support that comes out but then, I cannot get over that Aibileen instantly thinks of Miss Skeeter instead of herself, wanting her to be there.

Miss Skeeter: Emma Stone, Minny: Octavia Spencer & Aibileen: Viola Davis
Throughout the novel, I had the feeling that I just couldn't believe this all was still going on in the 60's. Of course while I was learning about the Civil Rights movement in school I knew that was the time period for it, but now it seems like it wasn't that long ago. And to be honest, sometimes it still feels like we have not moved on too far from it. One of the major themes in the novel also struck me pretty hard, that all of these white children were raised by these black maids who loved them and taught them everything from their first words and potty-training to how to be proper ladies and driving cars. The book talks about all the children that Aibileen raises (17 in total) but still mentions that she cannot keep them from "becoming their mothers." Like no matter what she does or says to them, as children they will love her with everything they have but once they grow up and have families of their own, they become the same people their parents were, which usually included not being very nice to their help either. I loved the relationship between Aibileen and her "last baby" Mae Mobley. While her mother Elizabeth paid little attention to her, Aibileen always made sure that Mae understood that she was kind, smart and important, which warmed my heart every time it was mentioned in the book. (It's also the part some of us at work like to say to each other when we're getting a little stressed.)

Overall, I loved the book because I could really get into it. I saw myself as Miss Skeeter a lot, because I'm sure I would be the "rebel white girl who liked to write." I loved to hear about certain characters triumphs and loved to hear when not so awesome things happened to characters I did not like, just like in real life! (haha) I also really felt a part of it, because the dialect was so well written that I felt the Southern tone of each different character and their personality. My only complaint is that I'm getting tired of the idea that blacks cannot do anything without the help of white people. See: The Blindside or Freedom Writers for further information on that topic. I liked that Stockett seemed to be trying to steer away from that storyline by making Aibileen and Minny such powerful characters but the hint of it was still there. And to be real honest, we'll never get over the race issue in this country if the, whites as the upper-hand helpers, is always part of our basic plot.


  1. Totally agree 10000% on your view of The Help. I thought it was an absoulutly wonderful book. Its one of those that make you laugh out loud and cry 2 pages later. I wasn't too fond of the movie but I could read the book 100 times and enjoy it every time. Very well written blog Chelsea. I love reading what you write :)

    1. Thanks so much, Elena! I'm on the waiting list at the library to borrow the movie of The Help so hopefully I'll see it soon! But I absolutely loved the book too and will probably read it over and over.


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