The Help


Minny from the Help

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

In the book “The Help” by Katheryn Stockett the author portrays Minny is one of the primary women representing “The Help”, the black women that make their employers life so nice and comfy. In Jackson the help or the maid as they are also called are expected to be obedient and respectful. Minny is the opposite of that. Minny is a bossy, hot headed maid who is unable to keep a job because of her mouth. She always states her mind and does not hesitate to sass-mouth anyone that crosses her.

Her home life is difficult because of the fact that she has five children and a husband.

Her marriage with Leroy is complicated since he often gets drunk and beats on her, and it is hard for Minny to look past this awful characteristic of Leroy because she is in love with him. Because Minny is courageous, fearless and loyal nothing can knock her down. Minny is a loyal person that worked for Miss Hilly’s mother, Miss Walter, throughout the beginning of the novel.

They wanted Minny for a maid because she was “bout the best cook in Hinds County maybe, even all a Mississippi. But when Miss Hilly sends Miss Walters, her mother, to the old folks home and tells Minny that she needs to work for her.

Minny does not accept so Miss Hilly goes out and tells her friends how Minny is a thief so she would have no choice but to work for her. Minny gets so outraged that she gives Miss Hilly that horrible pie. As fearless as Minny is she does not hesitate on taking action when someone crosses her. In the book “The Help” Miss Hilly crosses Minny by making everyone believe that Minny stole from her. Minny decides that she has had enough of Miss Hilly and that she needs to teach her a lesson so she puts it on herself to get payback. Minny as a way to get back at Hilly baked a cake with poop in it and fed it to Miss Hilly.

Hilly didn’t even notice until Minny said “eat my shit”. As tension rises between Hilly and Minny. Minny decides to participate in the book, talking about the daily life of the help, since she has nothing to lose. As an act of courageousness Minny puts herself in danger by cooperating on the book as she puts her daily life on paper. But in Jackson that is a punishable crime because it is considered a rights movement and it is frowned upon. Since the maids are tired of being mistreated by the whites and having unfair laws they are ready for change.

They are hoping to open everyone’s eyes so they can see how horrible African-Americans are being treated and Minny doesn’t hesitate on trying to accomplish that. So after she thought about it “every time we meet, I complain. I moan. I get mad and throw a ot potato fit. But here’s the thing: I like telling my stories. ” Minny’s courageousness and actions influence major changes in Jackson, Mississippi. As an act of fearlessness Minny tamed Hilly without knowing it. By Minny being loyal she got respect from almost everyone. She has been through so much which has made her a better person.

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The Help Reading Response

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

In the 1960s, Jackson, Mississippi, was essentially operating with black maids raised white children, but weren’t allowed to use the same supermarket, library, or toilet – and certainly weren’t trusted around the good silver. ‘The Help’ is an unforgettable story told from the viewpoints of three very unforgettable women: Aibileen, raising her seventeenth white child; Minny, forever losing jobs due to her sassy tongue; and Miss Skeeter, an aspiring writer who has been raised by black maids all her life.

When Miss Skeeter gets the opportunity of a lifetime to become a published author, she of course takes it but in order for this to happen, she has to write about things that people need to read about. In a time when even talking to a black person was shunned, these three women team up on a project that will put them all at risk in an attempt to change the minds of the Jackson residents. What follows was, for me an emotionally compelling story, as we hear stories of cruelty and humiliation but also those of sensitivity.

The Help is a beautiful story about friendship between women who were willing to cross lines and take risks in a time when it was dangerous to make waves or call for change that could result in violence. These women demonstrated a courage that is inspiring and that is what I think makes this book worth sharing others. This book has characters in it that I was able to empathies with and those, of course, who I disliked. The way in which Kathryn Stockett has written about her characters is so believable that that the story was untrue and as I was reading this book, it didn’t cross my mind at all that it was fiction because everything Kathryn Stockett wrote about seemed so believable. It is told in alternating viewpoints from the three main characters which I don’t usually like in books, but this book worked really well and ensures that both sides of the story in this book were seen; from the League ladies such as the truly horrible Miss Hilly, to the maids who work for them and basically raise their children. The characters were well

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Movie Review – The Help

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

“The Help” based on a best-selling novel by Kathryn Stockett, a story of three women who take extraordinary risk in writing a novel based on the stories from the view of black maids and nannies. Set in Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s, a young girl sets out to change the town. Skeeter, who is 21 years old, white, educated from Ole Miss, dreams of becoming a journalist. She returns home to find the family maid, Constantine, gone and no one will explain to her what happened.

Skeeter acquires a job as a columnist for the local paper at the being of the movie. Skeeter mother’s only concern is for Skeeter to find a husband. Skeeter’s ambition to become a writer starts with her idea to write a novel about from the view of the black maids and nannies in Jackson. Aibileen, who lost her son after he was ran over and dumped at a hospital, works as a maid for a family.

She watches after the seventeenth child of a white family. Minny, Aibileen’s friend and a maid, raises children of her own and keep secrets of the white women she works for.

The unlikely trio begins to write the stories of the life of the maid from their viewpoint. It is socially unacceptable and against the law in Mississippi to discuss integration. Skeeter needs to recruit more maids to tell their stories. However no maids are willing to help until a series of events happen that change their minds. The book published called “The Help” with all of the stories having hidden identities. The white women of the town begin to question who the true characters are and where the book is actually taking place. Some of the women swear up and down it is not Jackson to protect themselves from humiliation. The movie along with the book the three wrote during the movie depicts how life was really like in Jackson for black families. There are several areas within the movie that describe what live is Jackson was like. There is a scene in the movie where Aibileen was in the bathroom, built specifically for her because a white lady in the movies says that black people have different diseases than white people.

In several scenes in the movie, the maids travel on buses that are for black people only or are at the back of a bus with the white people at the front. Skeeter goes to the library in Jackson and gets a book with information about segregation and the laws. Blacks could not attend the same schools and churches as the white people. The transferring of books between whites and blacks was not acceptable. They remained with whoever began using them first. They were to remain with the population that started using them. They also use separate entrances to public buildings. Aibileen tells the story of how her son died and explained that they the white bosses loaded him up in the back of a pickup after being ran over. They dropped him off in front of the colored hospital, honked the horn, and drove away.

He later died at home with a collapsed lung because there was nothing the doctors could do to save him. The list above shows some of the issues that are within the movie about segregation and discrimination. The movie, filmed well, shows the different views of life and shows different things and values affect different people. There are several other movies that I have watched related to this one including Ali, a movie about an amazing African American boxer during the 60s and 70s and his way to winning the heavy weight title. Remember the Titans, a film related to integration of schools during the early 70s. The movie is about a new African American football coach that faces the challenges with a racially integrated football team.

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“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer


The Help is set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi , in Stocketts hometown The Setting is important for the plot of the book because Jackson is still known as one of the most segregated towns in the U.S”


The Help is told from the point of view of 3 different women, namely, AIBILEEN, MINNY, AND SKEETER. AIBILEEN is an African-American maid who cleans houses and cares for the children of white families. MINNY is also an African-American maid and she is Aibileen’s friend.

She has frequently given her honest opinion to her employers with the result of having been fired many times. EUGENIA “SKEETER” PHELAN is the member of a rich white family whose cotton farm employs many African Americans in the fields and in the household. Skeeter has just finished college and comes home with the dream of becoming a writer although her mother rather wants her to get married. At that time, a “good” woman was supposed to get married, have children and be a good housewife and mother but for Skeeter it is her career that is most important.


When Skeeter has turned back home she wonders where her former maid and nanny Constantine was. As her family always tries to avoid giving her answers about Constantine’s disappearance she finally finds out the truth, namely, she was fired for being too old and slow. Due to the injustice and cruelty that Constantine and other colored maids in the South have experienced, Skeeter decides to reveal the truth about being a colored maid in Mississippi and to write a book about it. She tries to connect with a group of black maids in order to gain their trust. A task that turns out to be quite difficult and tricky as writing a book about African Americans in the South during the early 1960s breaks social rules and puts all the black maids at risk.

Since the death of her 24-years-ols son Treelore it is Aibileen’ s first job in the Leefolt household. She mainly takes care of their baby Mae Mobley who she always calls baby girl.

Minny’s most recent employer Mrs. Walters is the mother of Hilly Holbrook who is the social leader of the community and head of the Junior League. One day the White population of the community decides to construct segregated bathrooms for the black servants as they think black people carrying diseases.

The decision for segregated bathrooms finally makes Aibileen agreeing on cooperating with Skeeter on her book about the black maids of Jackson and they begin spending their evenings together and build a friendship. Minny also agrees to work with them and they try to get other maids involved but they are all too frightened in the beginning.

One day Hilly’s maid Yule May asks Hilly to loan her 75$ to send her sons to college. When Hilly refuses her request Yule steals a ring. Hilly finds out about that and uses her influence to have Yule sentenced to four years in the state penitentiary. The other black maids are angry about Hilly and the way she treated Yule May so that they decide to tell their individual experiences to Skeeter.

Finally Skeeter’s book gets published anonymously and becomes a national bestseller. Soon, the white women of Jackson begin recognizing themselves in the book’s characters.

The book becomes a powerful force in giving a voice to black maids which causes Jackson’s community to strongly reconsider the system of segregation.

TRAILER A film adaptation of “The Help” was released in 2011. But just as an aside the film does not include all the events and details of the book and should not be considered as 1:1 illustration.


The Help takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960s during the civil rights era. Aibileen, Minny, and all the other African-American maids at that time took a grave risk in their fight against racial intolerance. By helping Ms. Skeeter write her book about black maids working for white families, all the maids took a chance of losing their job, their house, even their very own lives. The book demonstrates its theme of racial intolerance by using Hilly Holbrook as the enemy, a racist young white woman who is quick to display her distaste in blacks. The continuous struggle between Ms. Hilly and the maids shows that racial intolerance is significant aspect of the book.

This book connects to the cultural identity of America by displaying a fight against racism just like how civil rights activists fought for equality during the 1960s. If the majority of people did not gain the courage to fight against discrimination like the characters in the book were willing to, our society today would still be segregated. The Civil Rights act of 1964 protected the rights of people based on their race, and sex and prohibited racial segregation and discrimination against African Americans. This act was a huge step in eliminating racism and discrimination.


The imagination of Medgar Evers death is very significant to the novel because it represents how dangerous it was to be African- American during the 1960s. He was a colored man fighting for change, fighting to be equal, but his brutal death terrified many people at that time. It made people believe that fighting for rights, or changing the norm, would ultimately put your life at an extreme risk. Evers death showed Aibileen and Minny how risky writing a book about working for white families actually was, and showed the readers how dangerous the situation could be.

The death of Evers also helps show the differences in the way the black and white communities of Jackson perceive current events. For the black community, Evers’s death is a major historical event. For the white community, it’s not something to even be discussed.


While “The Help” contains many topics amongst its pages, nothing is more salient to me than the topic of racial intolerance.

The novel shows that segregation doesn’t just mean that black and white people must live apart. It means that they can only interact in certain situations (mostly in which black people are serving white people in some capacity) and there are strict rules and norms about how they can act toward each other.

Because black people were considered inferior by most whites, and by the law, they were only allowed access to inferior living conditions, products, and services. jobs and educational opportunities for black people were few. Segregation negatively impacts every aspect of the lives of the black characters.


The help uses many rhetorical devices, but known more than colloquial language. Kathryn Stockett makes sure that each one of her characters sounds real. The reader doesn’t have to infer what it sounds like because it is written that way. Stockett’s use of colloquial language is continuous throughout the novel and varies as the characters change, for every few characters have distinct dialects or accents.

“I look deep into her rich brown eyes and she look into mine. Law, she got old-soul eyes, like she done lived a thousand years. And I swear I see, down inside, the woman she gone grow up to be… and then she say it, just like I need her to. ‘You is kind,’ she say, “you is smart. You is important.’

‘Oh Law.’ I hug her hot little body to me. I feel like she done just given me a gift. ‘Thank you, Baby Girl.’” (Stockett 520 -521)

We see in this excerpt that “you is kind” should actually be “you are kind”, but that is not the way Stockett wanted her character to speak. I liked that very much, because it made the characters appear even more real and I could imagine them better while reading the book. Moreover, the topic of the book was very interesting and although the book has 450 pages, it was quickly readable because it was an exciting book. I would really recommend it to everyone, because this book is a must-read I think.

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The Help Analysis Paper

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

The Help Is an American novel that represents an era of civil rights, written by the point of view of a white educated southern woman, in a very different time period of what the book is set in. The Help takes place during the 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi. This novel tells a story about the relationships between African-American maids and their white employers. During the 1960’s, not only in Mississippi but the greater part of the south, African-American women were the nannies and maids to white families for generations and dealt with racism in order to earn an income for their own families.

The Help not only touches on a racist time era but a sexist one as well. In The 60’s women were to be mothers and housewives but some wanted to be more than that, this novel tells another story about a young educated southern woman trying to achieve a career in a male dominant profession.

The author is Kathryn Stockett, a white southern woman from Jackson, Mississippi.

She grew up in Jackson with her own African-American nanny who died when she was sixteen. She narrates The Help as two African-American maids and one young white woman; all live and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. Stockett’s point of view in this novel is that she was one of those many children in the South that had a second mother who was black and wanted to tell those nanny’s stories on behalf of her own deceased nanny. She makes the two African-American narrators the protagonist, Aibileen and Minny, and the young white women, Skeeter, is also a protagonist who wants to tell the truth about Jackson, Mississippi and does so by convincing Aibileen and Minny and others to tell their stories about being nannies to white families.

See more: how to write an analysis of a research paper

The Help was published in 2009, the year Barack Obama took office. 2009 was important year for America; it was the year that the first African-American president took office. During the campaign a lot of racial tension started rising, even though America had changed drastically since the 60’s there were still some old ignorant views. This book was written during a time when America had progressed for the better but its individuals hadn’t. The campaigning of president Obama could have reminded Stockett of how much America has changed in such a short time but how some people hadn’t.

Kathryn Stockett wrote this book because she felt that she needed to tell the story of the African-American maids and their white employers relationship. It was written to tell the truth of Jackson, Mississippi in the 60’s, to make America aware of what was going on down in the south during that era. Kathryn admits in an interview that she herself was at one point in her life prejudice but she also states how much she loved her own nanny Demetrie, who raised her till she was 16. Stockett wrote this book so that people could speak about race in general, people avoid the topic because it’s a sensitive subject that many individuals find uncomfortable or better left unsaid.

The Help takes an individual back in time to an era of racism and puts the reader in the shoes of two southern black maids and a young educated white women. This novel brings the reader to realize how much the world has changed and how much society has as well. In less than 60 years America has gone from strict segregation to having a black president in office. The Help also takes the reader back to a time of sexism, when women were to be doting housewives and child bearers. This novel shows how young Skeeter was too educated for her mother’s liking and was constantly being haggled to settle down at the age of 23 and find a husband, except she wanted to become a writer, a man’s profession in the 60’s. Today in America a woman can do anything she wants, no matter her race, as long as she has the right education and determination.

“Mississippi Goddam” By Nina Simone, 1964The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can’t you see it
Can’t you feel it
It’s all in the air
I can’t stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn’t been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day’s gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don’t belong here
I don’t belong there
I’ve even stopped believing in prayer

Don’t tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I’ve been there so I know
They keep on saying “Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
Washing the windows
“do it slow”
Picking the cotton
“do it slow”
You’re just plain rotten
“do it slow”
You’re too damn lazy
“do it slow”
The thinking’s crazy
“do it slow”
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don’t know
I don’t know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin’

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it’s a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you’d stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You’re all gonna die and die like flies
I don’t trust you any more
You keep on saying “Go slow!”
“Go slow!”

But that’s just the trouble
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Mass participation
“do it slow”
“do it slow”
Do things gradually
“do it slow”
But bring more tragedy
“do it slow”
Why don’t you see it
Why don’t you feel it
I don’t know
I don’t know

You don’t have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Art, music, and literature express a time period’s essence by using lyrics, images or words to depict what’s going on in that era and to preserve it for the future. They teach people of that certain time and in the future by telling a story lyrically or the artwork represent something that happened back then. The song “Mississippi Goddam” uses lyrics such as “Just give me my equality” to tell the audience of the African-American struggle to gain equality in the segregated south.

Individuals can look back at artwork and music to learn what was going on during that era by the stories the artwork, literature and music tells. Artwork, literature, and music represent the way the composer of the work felt about the time period and how the individual wanted to express their true feelings to an audience who felt the same way. Or the individuals wanted to educate and bring a community to the attention of the issues going on at that time.

. Black history month-mississippi goddamn-the power of jazz. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Aug 2012. <>.

Couric, Katie. “Katie Couric Interviews “The Help” author Kathryn Stockett.” Glamour Magazine. Conde Nast Publications, 2012. Web. 20 Aug 2012. <>.

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Character Analysis of Aibileen Clark from the Help

August 26, 2020 by Essay Writer

Discrimination is a disease. “Discrimination is a hellhound that gnaws at Negroes in every waking moment of their lives to remind them that the lie of their inferiority is accepted as truth in the society dominating them” (Martian Luther King Jr.). The Help is a novel based on how a dozen coloured people express their thoughts on how it really feels to work as a black maid in the white homes of Jackson. The main theme of The Help is race.

The coloured people are thought to be dirty, and filled with diseases. Aibileen is strong, brave and is known for her prayer powers. Despite all of that Aibileen is a character that is full of love for young children.

Aibileen is thought to have some sort of connection with god that all the other black people of the community lacked. Aibileen is known for her prayers; furthermore anyone who gets on her prayer list is exceedingly lucky. It is as if Aibileen is sitting right in the ears of god and all the other people are in a waiting list for their prayers to be answered.

Aibileen was asked by various people if she can pray for them since ‘Rumour is you got some kind a power prayer, gets better results than just the variety’ (Page 27). A time where Aibileen’s prayer was accepted was Eudora Green’s incident. “Eudora Green, when she broke her hip, went on your list, up walking in a week…” (Page 27). Or even when Minny pointed out Lolly Jackson’s incident. ”Lolly Jackson—heck, Lolly go on your list and two days later she pop up from her wheelchair like she touched Jesus…” (Page 28). It is as if Aibileen does black magic to some extent.

It is impossible to deny that Aibileen is extremely strong and brave. Aibileen had the nerve to step up and be a role model for all the other maids by spilling out everything on how it feels to be a coloured person working for a white person. Notwithstanding what would happen to her if she were to get caught. After all the years of being treated unequally Aibileen finally changed. Aibileen says “A bitter seed was planted inside a me. And I just didn’t feel so accepting anymore” (Page 183). Aibileen took the risk of her house being burned down, losing her job and never getting a job ever gain and even getting shot in front of her house. Aibileen is also strong and brave considering the fact that when her son Treelore died in an accident at work. Aibileen said “It took three months for I even look out the window, see if the worlds there….Five months after the funeral, I lifted myself up out a bed” (Page 3). This is when Aibileen faced the real life and didn’t take every word that was said about her and her friends. Due to the fact that Treelore was also writing a book on how it feels to be a coloured man living and working in Mississippi.

Aibileen took his steps and accepted to write the book. In the end what really mattered was that Aibileen and her community were proud of what she has done. More than anything else Aibileen possesses a heart filled with love for young children. Aibileen has a ponderous amount of love for her son Treelore and she has special love for Mae Mobley, daughter of Ms. Leefot. Aibileen has an extremely wonderful relationship with Mae Mobley to the extent that she named Mae Mobley her “special baby”. Aibileen teaches Mae Mobley many things, but one thing she really stresses is racial equality and civil rights. Aibileen tells baby that they have same features. They both have a nose, mouth, eyes, face, hands and everything else. But, the only difference is that Mae Mobley is white and Aibileen is black. Aibileen tells Mae Mobley many things about racial equality in order for her to have some different ways of thinking about race when she is being told different stuff at school.

Aibileen also does not want Mae Mobley to become like her mother by making a separate washroom for her later maid, thinking that coloured people are dirty and carry many diseases. Mae Mobley takes Aibileen as her mother because since day one Aibileen took care of her and also due to the fact that her mother ignores her in many occasions and treats her in an extremely way by beating her for going to the coloured washroom. Aibileen even told Mae Mobley a secret story on discrimination every week. Aibileen was shocked one day by the way Mae Mobley was acting when she came back from school. Aibileen asked “What is wrong, baby? What happen?’ Mae Mobley cried I colored myself black’.

Miss Taylor said to draw what we like about ourselves best.’ She said black means I got a dirty, bad face.”(Page 480,481). Aibileen felt a hard fist in her chest thinking that everything that she taught baby girl was about to go to waste on the account of her teacher. In conclusion, Aibileen Clark portrays the life of a maid living in Jackson, Mississippi. Aibileen had a washroom built for her because she was thought to have many diseases. All the qualities that Aibileen possessed show what type of character she is. Simply, Aibileen is an extremely loving, devoted and strong character. Aibileen went through many struggles in her life. But at the end all that really mattered was that she was proud of herself. Despite being fired and her dearest person to her (Mae Mobley) was taken away from her.

Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. New York: Penguin Group Inc., 2009

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Internalized language stereotypes within The Help

May 22, 2019 by Essay Writer

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, published in 2009, received critical acclaim upon its release and it remained number one on the New York Times bestseller list for a year. By the time the 2011 film adaptation of the book went to theaters, The Help had sold 3 million copies, featured in the New York Times bestseller list for over two years, and had been published in 35 countries and translated into three languages (S. Jones, 8). The popularity of Stockett’s novel was widespread, yet many historians and scholars have raised questions about the stereotypes that the novel perpetrates and the accuracies of the dialect of the characters. Stockett writes African American character’s dialogue in a broken, marked form of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) while representing all white characters, even those of the working-class, with very few vernacular markings despite the fact that most, if not all, characters would have had Southern vernacular markings. The novel plays into the racial stereotypes that Stockett claims she was trying to eliminate, but the feel-good “we’re all the same” themes and the fact that the white, upper-middle class woman protagonist succeeds in the end suggests that the popular acclaim may have come from an audience playing into white fantasy, not one seeking to reveal truths and heal racial wounds. I argue that the major success of Stockett’s The Help and its consequent film, despite its misuse of AAVE and its perpetuation of African American stereotypes, suggests that its audience might subscribe to those same stereotypes.

The Help gained immediate priority on the lists of book clubs since 2009, and the release of its movie in 2011 sent it to the top of the charts yet again, heading The New York Times bestseller list six times during its 103-week tenure. The success of the novel, both before and after the release of its movie, is not insignificant: it was ranked number three on its list of best-selling hardcover books in 2009 by Publisher’s Weekly; it was the first single Amazon Kindle title to sell one million eBook copies; it won the 2010 Indies’ Choice Award given by the American Bookseller’s Association; and it won the 2010 Book of the Year for Fiction given by the Southern Independent Booksellers Association (Wilson, 2012). The film enjoyed a large promotional push that included links to southern recipe and cooking guides, women’s fashion and style guides, and further cross-branding efforts. The Help film was highly successful, probably due to its vast marketing as well as the book’s popularity. The film grossed approximately $170 million domestically and $210 million worldwide (Wilson, 2012). However, the 2011 release of the movie was not met with only a public appeal: many viewers raised concerns about the exaggerated African American vernacular, the overt domestic worker stereotypes, and the perpetuation of the white savior trope. These concerns are all apparent in both the novel and the movie, which suggests that the large audiences that gave them their popularity are willing to look past— or maybe not even see at all— the problematic depictions of race and the Civil Rights Movement in the early 1960s.

The conversation surrounding Kathryn Stockett and her novel began immediately after its release— it was controversial because some readers found it to be disparaging towards African Americans and a complete misrepresentation of the Civil Rights Movement. Ida E. Jones, the National Director of the Association of Black Women Historians, succinctly described many of her own problems with race in The Help in an essay entitled “An Open Statement to the Fans of The Help.” “Despite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice,” she writes, “The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers. We are specifically concerned about the representations of black life and the lack of attention given to sexual harassment and civil rights activism,” (I. Jones, 2014). The film, she argues, portrays the Civil Rights Movement through rose-tinted glasses, and in doing so it ignores the constant adversaries like sexual assault and less than adequate pay that the women had to deal with. It invalidates an entire violent, hard-fought movement by suggesting that it was people like the preppy, upper-middle class white Southern woman protagonist, Skeeter, who really spearheaded the Civil Rights Movement. Furthermore, Jones argues, it completely mutes the violence by suggesting that racism was not an institutional cultural psyche, but a handful of problematic individuals. “Portraying the most dangerous racists in 1960s Mississippi as a group of attractive, well dressed, society women, while ignoring the reign of terror perpetrated by the Ku Klux Klan and the White Citizens Council, limits racial injustice to individual acts of meanness,” (I. Jones, 2014). Jones further argues that Stockett has used the Civil Rights Movement as a plot development strategy without giving it the respect that she believes it deserves: “In the end, The Help is not a story about the millions of hardworking and dignified black women who labored in white homes to support their families and communities. Rather, it is the coming-of-age story of a white protagonist, who uses myths about the lives of black women to make sense of her own,” (I. Jones, 2014). Jones is far from the only scholar to raise concerns about the handling of race in The Help, and yet the book is still considered a keystone piece of literature in many wine-and-cheese book clubs.

The popularity of The Help, both film and movie, suggests that large numbers of Americans are comfortable either ignoring the stereotypes represented, or simply do not recognize the fallacy of the story and the language used by its characters. Constance Ruzich and Julie Blake argue in their essay entitled “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: Dialect, Race, and Identity in Stockett’s novel The Help,” that the African American community, by contrast, is able to see the misuse of dialect as it is shown in the film and on paper. “For many in the black community and/or for those with experience and understanding of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), Stockett’s representation of the maids’ language does not ring true and thus is perceived as insulting, demeaning, and racist,” (2015). Ruzich and Blake continue to suggest that the actual markings within the dialogue of the African American domestic workers are not necessarily the problem, but the process of “enregisterment” that readers and viewers undergo in consuming the novel as entertainment. Barbara Johnstone, who works in the Pittsburgh area studying AAVE and coined the term, describes it as “if hearing a particular word or structure used, or a word pronounced a particular way, is experienced in connection with a particular style of dress or grooming, a particular set of social alignments, or a particular social activity, that pronunciation may evoke and/or create a social identity,” (Johnstone, 2011). Asif Agha, who can be put into conversation with both Ruzich and Blake and Johnstone because of his work with enregisterment, defines it as “the process by which a collection of linguistic forms or features becomes linked to a social identity and its accompanying ideological and cultural values,” (2003). Using this definition of enregisterment, Ruzich and Blake argue that the social identity Stockett attempts to portray to readers through the marked dialect of the African American domestic workers is that of being black, poor, and uneducated.

In his essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?” James Baldwin, argues that specific dialects become institutionalized because they had belonged to the people of privilege at the time of the language’s conception. With this in mind, the idea of “correct” and “incorrect” speech patterns becomes hazy. He writes that the arguments surrounding African American dialects are “rooted in American history and [have] absolutely nothing to do with the question the argument seems to be posing. The argument has nothing to do with language itself but with the role of language. Language, incontestably, reveals the speaker,” (Baldwin, 2001). By describing characters through their marked vernaculars, Stockett is suggesting that particular speech patterns correlate with different races, specifically that African American English is more marked with “inaccuracies,” although the institutionalized creation of “correct” English was in itself classist. Stockett’s markings are clear in the dialect of the African American characters while many of the white characters, even those of the working class, maintain a nearly pristine speech pattern. In this way, both the novel and the movie are suggesting that specific vernaculars are aligned with class and race intrinsically and that the marked vernacular of the domestic workers should be recognized as a dialect used by the working class while the more “correct” version of Southern American English used by the white characters should be viewed as one with the upper-middle class (Ruzich & Blake, 2015). Ruzich and Blake argue that The Help adds to a preexisting cultural enregisterment that links AAVE to the poor, uneducated, and lower class.

The process of enregisterment in The Help becomes even more problematic when one considers the markings (or lack of markings) in the dialogue of the white characters. Ruzich and Blake support critiques of the novel on this basis, because upon close study of the lines of dialogue, they found that “the speech of Stockett’s white characters, no matter their social class or rural/urban differences, is significantly less marked for dialect than that used to give voice to the black characters in The Help. In the language of her [Stockett’s] white characters, dialect markers occur approximately once in one-hundred words, as compared to the language of her black characters, in which dialect markers occur approximately once every ten words,” (Ruzich & Blake, 2015). This is offered in juxtaposition with the fact that historically, both African American and white characters would be speaking an accented form of Southern American English (SAE).

The implication of this skewed form of dialect within the novel and the book suggests that, as a middle-class woman in the South, Stockett formed her own prejudices that translated into her writing (Ruzich & Blake 2015). This problem is exacerbated due to the novel’s popularity within white audiences because it suggests that Stockett’s internalized stereotypes are part of a larger, more widely accepted discourse. “The linguistic stigmatization of the black characters in Stockett’s novel, then, needs to be viewed as something much larger than a reflection of a single author’s individual prejudices, but rather, as a popular culture indication of the racial and class anxieties that are deeply woven into the sociocultural fabric of American society, a society that embraces and popularizes such linguistic choices,” (Ruzich & Blake, 2015). This problem is highlighted by Stockett’s handling of the dialect of the white working-class, which is represented by Celia Foote, a woman from Sugar Ditch who marries into wealth and is taught basic housekeeping and cooking skills by one of the African American domestic workers, Minnie. She is specifically interesting to linguists and historians looking at the accuracy of the novel because, despite the fact that being a lower class woman is intrinsically part of her character, she does not have nearly the amount of vernacular markings that the domestic workers do. Despite the fact that historically, Celia Foote’s language would have been just as marked as that of the domestic workers, Kathryn Stockett actually spoke in an interview about how she created Celia Foote’s half-broken hybrid English. “I had a lot of fun writing Miss Celia. I wanted to create a character who’s so poor that they’re beyond prejudice. But in terms of dialogue? Hers was the hardest to capture. When you really get down into deep, thick redneck accents, you kinda have to take out all your teeth before you can really pull it off. But I do love those accents,” (Calkin, 2009). Ruzich and Blake wrote that they found this specific quotation particularly disturbing because it shows the true lack of attention that Stockett seemed to pay to the markings of AAVE and accented SAE, which all of the characters would historically be speaking. “Stockett’s assertion that she depicts Celia with a “deep, thick redneck accent” is difficult to reconcile with the comparatively infrequent markers of dialect found in Celia’s speech,” they argue, “In fact, after examining the linguistic features of Celia’s speech, it is unclear in what sense Stockett “took out all her teeth” in order to represent a character she describes as “so poor that they’re beyond prejudice.” Instead of highlighting differences between rich and poor, Stockett’s novel underscores the differences between black and white,” (Ruzich & Blake, 2015). This type of enregisterment becomes problematic when it is being perpetrated by popular culture, but it becomes even more concerning when books and films that play into the misrepresentations of race become the most popular piece of literature about the time period. The problems with the dialect of character in the novel and movie are far from the only example of misrepresentation of African American domestic workers, although it may be arguably the easiest one to point out directly. When one considers the failings of Stockett’s version of broken AAVE in tandem with the misrepresentations found in the characters and plot itself, it becomes clear that the novel and film could be considered not only misrepresentative of a culture, but at times flat-out inaccurate.

Allison Graham in “‘We Ain’t Doin’ Civil Rights’: The Life and Times of a Genre, as Told in The Help,” argues that one of the many ways in which race is misrepresented in the novel is its use of the Civil Rights Movement to generate idle discussion. The movement acts as background noise to the actual plot, which is centered around a privileged white woman, although the book is marketed as a piece of Civil Rights Movement literature. She further argues that the conclusion of the movie, although it achieves its “feel good” intent, really only suggests a “happy ending” for Skeeter and some extra money for the domestic workers involved. The only light at the end of the tunnel for the African American domestic workers is that “the film gives no hint that Abilene and Minny will feel further backlash from ‘doin’ civil rights,’” (Graham, 2014). By focusing the entire story on a “white savior” protagonist, the novel and the film are allowing white audiences to relate to the main character while feeling as though they understand the Civil Rights Movement completely. Other scholars, like Tikenya Foster-Singletary, have raised many concerns about the misrepresentations of color within The Help: “Stockett’s handling of race slips in a number of ways, marring the novel’s ultimate task and weighing it down with the problematic language and details for much of the story,” (Foster-Singletary, 2012). Graham and Foster-Singletary are just two voices in a large pool of critiques who suggest that there are problems with the way Stockett’s The Help handles racial issues and the Civil Rights Movement.

Many literary critics, scholars, and casual book bloggers seemed to pick up on the overt problems in the description of race within the novel. In her essay entitled “The Help: A Critical Review,” April Scissors discusses some of the issues that she found within the text, such as the lack of African American male characters, which perpetrates the stereotype that African American men are not involved in family life at all, and when they are, they are violent (like Minnie’s abusive husband who is only shown in the film as a threatening shadow). She also argues that many scenes in both the film and the novel follow a stereotype by suggesting that African Americans must be religious and forgiving. Especially when these qualities are expected from middle-age African American women, the line between what is a “black mammy” stereotype and what is an accurate depiction of domestic workers becomes blurred (Scissors, 2013). “It is important to note that as a black woman, Abilene could not tell the stories of other black women and have the book be received as well as The Help has. If a black author wrote the book, or if the story allowed for Aibileen to be in charge of her own freedom, The Help would be relabeled as “African American fiction” or a “Black movie,” marginalized by its topic and not half as successful,” (2013). It is clear that many readers and viewers of The Help, especially Southern African Americans, find it an inaccurate depiction of life in Jackson, Mississippi, and yet its popularity among audiences seems unaffected. What does this suggest, then, about the audiences that are willing to consume entertainment that is widely viewed as inaccurate?

Some literary scholars argue that at least part of the success of the novel was due to its tendency to bend more towards the audience’s emotional reaction than the actual historical truth. By revealing the full extent of the violence and struggles within the Civil Rights Movement and the lives of domestic workers in the 1960s, Stockett would have forfeited the ability to bring the novel to a tidy, optimistic close. Instead, she chooses to collapse all of the racial injustices suffered by African American domestic workers into a single, bit-sized and hatable character, Hilly Holbrook. With her defeat at the end of the novel, it is assumed that the defeat of all “racists” would follow. In this way, audiences are allowed to ignore the issue that the movie claims to push: the racial injustices of domestic workers in the 1960s. Henneberger writes in her critical review of the novel that “the book’s real appeal, it seems to me is in its invitation to ease into a warm bath of moral superiority over the racist ninnies in the book, who worry about the diseases they might catch if the women who cook their food and raise their children were also to tinkle in their toilets,” (Henneberger, 2011). The audience, she argues, is given an archetype of a “racist,” who just appears to be a mean-hearted and largely under informed woman. By placing the racial problems of this period squarely on Hilly Holbrook’s shoulders, the audience can take the weight off of themselves. In this way, I argue that some of The Help’s popularity comes from its misrepresentation of race relations in the 1960s because it allows for the momentary ease of white guilt. By allowing racial injustices as a whole to be condensed to a single antagonist, audiences are trading historical truths for the temporary pleasure of a fictional story.

Perhaps, then, the widespread success of both the novel and the film is suggestive of the consumers, although I would be hesitant to claim that a buyer of the book is equivalent to a firm supporter of the book. I would love to suggest that perhaps the book’s market popularity comes from the conversations that are generated about its misrepresentation of race, but I think that would be far-reaching optimism and that, in reality, its popularity comes from its perpetration of white fantasy stereotypes. Ruzich and Blake agree, arguing that “the commercial success of Stockett’s novel can be explained by its attempts to meet the emotional and political needs of her audience,” (2015). These “emotional and political needs,” they explain, include the need to alleviate white guilt and the need to personally connect with a lead white character who becomes triumphant in the end. “It could be argued that the central concern of the book is not about social justice for black people, but rather is about white people trying to figure out what roles they will still get to play in a social landscape in which a black man is President of the United States—a black man from the North who doesn’t talk like Uncle Remus,” (Ruzich & Blake, 2015). This becomes especially problematic when considering that this is one of the few novels written by a Southern author that depicts Southern life during the Civil Rights Movement (however inaccurately) at all. The Help is an inadequate source of history, but for many current movie-watchers, it is the most information that they’ve received about the Civil Rights Movement at one time since high school. In Ann Hornaday’s review of the novel, she concurs, stating that many of her worries come from the fact that the novel might not be popular despite the historical inaccuracies, but because of the inaccuracies. She leaves the reader to experience the book for themselves, but to be aware of the problems surrounding race as depicted in the novel. “Surely both taste and perspective will inform whether viewers will find “The Help” a revelatory celebration of interracial healing and transcendence, or a patronizing portrait that trivializes those alliances by reducing them to melodrama and facile uplift,” (Hornaday, 2008). Although my paper argues that the misrepresentations of African Americans within The Help probably added to its popularity among white audiences through its perpetration of white fantasy, I do completely recognize and understand the importance of reading texts that propose problems because it reveals the psyche of not only the author, but of the audience. I would argue that The Help was published at a convenient time in American history in that white guilt was heightened by the slow recognition of police brutality and the novel offered a quick-fix remedy. The social climate in which the novel was published, its perpetration of white fantasy stereotypes, and its tendency to reduce racial injustices into a single antagonist in order to act as if they have been completely resolved probably added to the novel’s popular appeal. The movie’s release made the same themes even more readily available and it opened a discussion that the country was nervous to have about historical racial tensions and it offered a clean, although not complete, answer: “racism is bad, so don’t be a racist”. The themes displayed in The Help ignore the fact that racial tensions are historically an intrinsic part of American history, that racism is an internalized misunderstanding of another race and not a mean-spirited individual, and that racial tensions still exist today. Instead, it perpetrates themes that suggest that racial injustices are a phenomena of the past and that racism can be defeated with shit pie.

In conclusion, this paper was meant to describe, in detail, the misrepresentations of class and race in The Help while asking what its massive popularity suggests about its audience and their willingness to accept such stereotypes. In this paper, I outlined the popularity of the novel and movie, used quotations from critics to gather an understanding of the popular opinion of each, discussed specific instances of Stockett’s misuse of AAVE and misrepresentation of African Americans, and considered what its popularity despite its obvious problems says about its audience. I found that many scholars, including Ruzich and Blake, would argue that “the linguistic stigmatization of the black characters in Stockett’s novel “needs to be viewed as something much larger than a reflection of a single author’s individual prejudices, but rather, as a popular culture indication of the racial and class anxieties that are deeply woven into the sociocultural fabric of American society, a society that embraces and popularizes such linguistic choices,” (2015). Even Aibileen’s repeated mantra in the film, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important,” is marked by a form of uneducated dialect that is not in coherence with accented SAE, which the character would be historically speaking. Stockett’s claims that she draws directly from memories of her own African American nanny, in my opinion, offer very little reconciliation because it is an admittance that she consciously chose to write from childhood memory instead of a true form of Southern American English or African American Vernacular English. The fact that the popular audience’s reaction to a piece of art as problematic as The Help was widespread approval suggests that people found comfort in its dramatized versions of the 1960s and muted descriptions of the Civil Rights Movement. The Help tells a story in which a “white savior” protagonist uses the stories of domestic workers to further her own personal agenda of being a journalist while claiming to be a book about Civil Rights. It attempts to alleviate white guilt by personifying racism as a single, definable character who can be defeated and it paints the “good” white people as the heroes. These characteristics of The Help probably helped in its vast success because it was received by an audience eager to fix racial wounds quickly and silently. It offered a way to resolve the racial tension, eliminate internalized white guilt, and provide the “feel-good” sensation required of an enjoyable movie, and it was accepted by an audience too eager throw away historical truths to bask in the warmth of white fantasy.

Works CitedAgha, Asif. “The Social Life of Cultural Value.” Language and Communication 23 (2003): 231, 73. Print.

Alim, H. Samy. “Critical Language Awareness in the United States: Revisiting Issues and

Revising Pedagogies in a Resegregated Society.” Educational Researcher, vol. 34, no. 7, 2005, pp. 24–31.,

Baldwin, James. “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me, What Is?.” The Black Scholar, no. 1, 2001, p. 5.

Calkin, Jessamy. “The Maid’s Tale: Kathryn Stockett Examines Slavery and Racism in America’s Deep South.” The Telegraph. 16 July 2009. Web. 24 Sept. 2012.

Foster-Singletary, Tikenya. “Dirty South: “The Help” and the Problem of Black Bodies.” Southern Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 4, Summer2012, pp. 95-107.

Graham, Allison. “‘We Ain’t Doin’ Civil Rights’: The Life and Times of a Genre, as Told in the Help.” Southern Cultures, vol. 20, no. 1, 2014, pp. 51-64.

Henneberger, Melinda. “Southern Discomfort: A Novel, a Lawsuit & an Unhappy Legacy.” Commonwealth, vol. 138, no. 6, 25 Mar. 2011, p. 7.

Ann, Hornaday. “Using Stereotypes to Explain Racism.” Washington Post, the, Nov. 2008.

Johnstone, Barbara. “Dialect Enregisterment in Performance.” Journal of Sociolinguistics, vol. 15, no. 5, Nov. 2011, pp. 657-679.

Jones, Ida E., et al. “An Open Statement to the Fans of the Help.” Southern Cultures, vol. 20, no.1, Spring 2014, pp. 32-33.

Jones, Suzanne W. “The Divided Reception of the Help.” Southern Cultures, vol. 20, no. 1, Spring2014, pp. 7-25.

Ruzich, Constance and Julie Blake. “Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing: Dialect, Race, and Identity in Stockett’s Novel the Help.” Journal of Popular Culture, vol. 48, no.

3, June 2015, p. 534.

Scissors, April. “The Help: A Critical Review.” Cease and DaSista. 30 June 2011. Web. 2 Mar. 2013.

Wilson, Kerry B. “Selling the White Savior Narrative: The Help, Theatrical Previews and US

Movie Audiences.” Academia (2012): 22-41. Web. 28 Apr. 2017.

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Trauma and Racism: ‘The Help’ as Understood in Print, in Film, and in Scholarly Sources

February 1, 2019 by Essay Writer

‘There is the South, then there is Mississippi.’

There is a method to madness in literature when talking about the racial prejudice bordering and grasping the context of American history. Black prejudice and ill-treatment date back to a long time in American history and further studies show how these atrocities have formed a vicious circle in the coming generations. Through this paper we bring forward the themes underlying mental illness, faced as a consequence of racial prejudice and the changing American scene in the 1960s- trauma and the sparks of feminism. While the major emphasis focuses on the trauma faced by the characters, we discuss in details the onset and the effects of it in depth. Trauma can be explained as a type of damage to the mind or the body that occurs due to a result of a gravely distressing incident. Trauma is usually the result of an onset of an overwhelming amount of stress which can exceed one’s capability to cope or integrate and assimilate their emotions and memories after being involved in that experience. Trauma can be short-lived or as a result of a repetitive force having its toll on an individual or community for weeks, years, decades or even centuries. The reason we have chosen trauma as a form of mental illness or it being a severe harm to the mental health of an individual is because the effects of trauma cannot easily wear-off our memories. Mental illness also refers to a wide range of mental health conditions or disorders which affect our mood, thinking or behavior. It stays attached in our minds or on our bodies as a representation of torture and brutality. It affects the way we look, interpret, behave in life and how post the trauma our actions reveal a reason or our insecurities increase ten-fold. We have chosen the binaries of trauma- physical and emotional trauma and how it was found central to each character suffering it in the novel and the movie alike.

The book and its major motion picture film focus on the time period set in the 1960s, when the United States was in the grip of the Civil Rights Movement. Deon J.Tones in his article on on the racial struggle in Mississippi wrote: “Racism is principally about domination and control. Hate and fear are used as tools to create an emotional justification for separation and exclusion. In the home, schools, and churches, white children from earliest childhood are subjected to attitudes from white adults designed to instill a belief in the axiom of Dred Scott that African-Americans are inherently inferior to whites and have no rights which whites are bound to respect. Racism means training white children from an early age, at school and at home, that “white skin privileges a way of life.” The Help involves substantial dynamism in societal relations that surround the characters. The very first aspect of our study is the theme of trauma. In Gretchen Gusich’s article on “ A Phenomenology Of Emotional Trauma: Around And About The Things Themselves”, states: “In trauma, whether time seems to be slowed or speeding, what accounts for strangeness of our experience of it is the directedness of all of our intentional acts towards aspects of one and the same object may be”. Through her article she further analyses the first essential feature of trauma which is the disbelief that pervades traumatic experience. When traumatized, we cannot believe that the traumatic event has taken place. This is because we will something that is in the past, but to believe that it did not happens so as to shield ourselves from our painful emotional response to it. The second essential feature of trauma is our inability to distinctly, categorically intuit the central state of affairs around which our trauma revolves. The traumatic situation is literally unthinkable by us, for it is incongruent with both our expectations regarding the subject of the trauma and our horizon of sense more generally. The third essential feature of trauma is the temporal disorientation that it brings. Such disorientation arises from our prolonged and single minded attention to an increasingly complex categorical object: the traumatic situation. Trauma has been disclosed in terms of two binaries- the emotional and the physical trauma. These terminologies can be further dissected into its presence in each character in some or the other way.

The very first observation is the physical trauma. It is the benefactor or the leader to emotional trauma. Physical trauma includes the history of physical and sexual abuse on the African American slave workers, which can be looked upon as a genetic vicious cycle by the hands of the ‘superior white force’, as they liked to address themselves. The book brings out physical trauma in children as well as adults. Mae Mobley, a child of three, and Elizabeth’s daughter suffers physical trauma at the hands of her mother. Early abuse in children leads to deep-rooted psychological barriers in later life. A sort of one-sided justification to an unsolvable problem is seen here. The reason for May Mobley’s abuse lies in the fact that her mother doesn’t find her own daughter beautiful and fears how her daughter will not grow up to become a beauty queen and wouldn’t gain acceptance in the society. This entitles the questioning of the purity of a mother’s love. Is this a hyped statement or do we oversee the downsides of a mother’s love and the attention requirements of her child. Do we as a reading audience find any source of justification in Elizabeth’s blaming on her own child, who is not responsible for the consequences her physical appearance bears. It was the age of materialization in all human attributes. Rebecca Aanerud in her article “The Legacy of White Supremacy and the Challenge of White Antiracist Mothering” states that: “both white women mothering their sons and daughters of color and mothers of color mothering their own children have theorized the maternal experience in the context of racism…. There is a clear connection between maternal empowerment and the ability to build healthy strong identities in children”. Aanerud’s project is to develop an account of white antiracist mothering, using a model of maternal duty to raise anti-racist white children. Beauty was seen as a key sentiment to associate with femininity, whose fragments are still felt in our modern day society.

Beauty, as defined by the whites against colored was something which was possessed only by the superior genes. The downsides of Euro-centrism and the attachment of physical beauty with color was witnessed in third world colonies as well. Meibom addresses this issue in his publication “From A Novel To The Exploration Of Social Issues-The Help By Kathryn Stockett “: “In addition, during the 1960s, mothers were meant to transmit the standard social roles to their daughters, and therefore teach them and prepare them for marriage and life as a wife and mother.” The book also brings in to light the onset societal framework in Mississippi, where marriage, prospects and looks were what decided feminine modesty. The non-materialistic attributes of knowledge and education, were not given trivial importance. Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ had a lanky and pale appearance, making it hard for her to find suitors, adding to her mother’s worry, whereas her best friends were already settled and had children, which in terms of a neo-modern society gave out the norms of perfection. Skeeter was different from the other white folks, as she still held her mammy or her Constantine in the highest regards. There comes a point where the children’s “blindness towards racism” start coming to an end, marking the beginning of the part where they grow up to become just like their parents. But on the other side physical trauma for the black community came as physical abuse, torture, slavery, and submission to the white community as well as to the black male community. In the case of Minnie Jackson, she was physically abused and tortured by her own husband. Meibom in his publication also states: “Patriarchy, backed by religion, had been the norm throughout history and it was taken for granted that men were stronger than women, and therefore the husband and father controlled the family. Between 1965 and 1966, 46% of all crimes against women took place at home, and until the 1970s rape was only considered a crime if the offender was not a spouse. Furthermore, domestic violence was treated as “a family problem rather than a criminal matter” and the murder of wives by their husbands was barely acknowledged by society. The extent of torture for Minny was so high that, she is only safe from the beating while pregnant, as she says herself: “Because that’s the only thing that saved me, this baby in my belly.” The main reason for her inability to fight back is the fear of him leaving her and the children, and by doing so leaving them, with barely any financial support. However, Minny is deeply ashamed of herself and as she puts it: “I know it makes no sense and I get so mad at myself for being so weak! How can I love a man who beats me raw?” (413). She was traumatized and scared not just for herself but also for her children, as she explains it, “He throw the kids in the yard and lock me in the bathroom and say he gone light the house on fire with me locked inside!” (Pg 437), in a dramatic statement of how physically helpless she feels.

The next trauma is the emotional trauma, a key element playing a role in almost every character’s evolution in the novel. Starting with the leads themselves, Skeeter had a tough childhood growing up. Her mother adorned the glamourous ways and was a former pageant winner. Skeeter, unfortunately did not inherent the genes to take it forward in the world of glamour, but what she was gifted was with a massive potential of writing and a clear conscience, which were polished to perfection by their maid Constantine. Skeeter does not care for fashion or looks, nor is her only wish in life to find a husband and settle down, which separates her from the other girls of Jackson and deeply aggravates her mother. Moreover, Mrs. Phelan does not wish for her daughter to become a writer or a journalist, as shown when Skeeter says, “I’ll never be able to tell Mother I want to be a writer. She’ll only turn it into yet another thing that separates me from the married girls.” (56). Furthermore, Skeeter is a very outspoken and honest woman, as she is the only white woman to consider doing something to help the colored situation. Indeed, she directly confronts her best friend Hilly Holbrook and the white society by telling them what she believes about their behavior towards the help which leads to the revelation for the readers to understand Skeeter’s obsession with her curiosity regarding the sudden disappearance of Constantine. Mae Mobley and Skeeter bare resemblance in a lot of ways. Their set of similarities, have their own tragic endings. Mae Mobley is only three when Aibileen leaves their house, one can guarantee the maternal bond which she lacked in getting from Elizabeth, was fulfilled by Aibileen. We can see the strong bond between the two when Mae Mobley says: “Aibee, you’re my real mama” (284). The underlying conflicts and trauma brings us to the next point of discussion- the mother-daughter relationship portrayed in the novel.

In Lucy Rose Fischer’s “Transitions in the Mother-Daughter Relationship” “Under the influence of a woman’s becoming a mother herself, an identification with her own mother may be revived, against which she had striven up till the time of her marriage” Aanerud adds in her work – Patricia hill Collins who has offered a different set of maternal practices. She observed that much of the work on mothering in the USA feminist theory has positioned the experiments of white middle class women as standard. Collins argues that ‘’identity is the final activity of mother work.” She observed that mothers of color must work to build positive and meaningful identities for their children within a larger social context that denigrates people of color. This work involves a complicated dialectic of surviving oppressive structures that work to demean subordinated identity and somehow build self-esteem. In the novel itself, Minnie tries to create a good and a positive outlook for Sugar and giving it her best to ensure she has a secure education. Household situations leads to Sugar looking for work, which is similar to what happened to Minnie as a girl. Hence a genetic vicious cycle has been created. The mother tries her best to ensure the child does not entail the same fate as she suffered, but the question is, it is not the tempting fate no more, in a land which resides in the Jim Crow Laws. In Kei Nomaguchi and Amanda N. House‘s article on “Racial-ethnic disparities in maternal parenting stress: the role of structural disadvantages and parenting values”, they comment that: “Black mothers have more authoritarian parenting values than white mothers, as black mothers are more likely than white mothers to expect obedience and respect from their children, provide more strict rules, and use physical discipline (Chao and Kanatsu 2008; Dixon et al. 2008; Gershoff et al. 2012; Slade and Wissow 2004). Because of more structural disadvantages and authoritarian parenting values, we expect that black mothers report more parenting stress than white mothers” We witness material affection as a bond through Hilly’s relationship with her mother. The only reason her mother stays along with her is because she has the best maid in town with her, however, the minute she fires Minnie, her mother is sent to a nursing home, showing the faulted ties in white mothers and daughters.

Comparing this to Minnie’s situation, there is a true bond between her and Sugar as she is genuinely concerned for her, and the love between them does not have side implications or explanations, there is no materialistic bond that unites the two. Sara Ruddick’s book Maternal Thinking: Toward a Politics of Peace (1989) identifies a specific standpoint arising out of maternal practices that serves as the foundation for a feminist peace politics. She referred to the kind of thinking that arises from maternal practice as ‘maternal thinking’. Ruddick identified three maternal practices that she felt were universal by virtue to the fact that they are responses to a ‘biological child in a particular social world’. While the particular social world may vary, the biological child makes certain universal demands; the responses to those demands constitute maternal practice {or nurturance} and social acceptance {or training}.

Works Cited

[Deon T.JOnes south-then-there-is-mississippi-6cb154ee3843] Fischer, Lucy Rose. “Transitions in the Mother-Daughter Relationship.” Journal of Marriage and Family 43, no. 3 (1981): 613-22. doi:10.2307/351762. Aanerud, Rebecca. “The Legacy of White Supremacy and the Challenge of White Antiracist Mothering.” Hypatia, vol. 22, no. 2, 2007, pp. 20–38. JSTOR, JSTOR, Gusich, Gretchen. “A Phenomenology of Emotional Trauma: Around and About the Things Themselves.” Human Studies, vol. 35, no. 4, 2012, pp. 505–518. JSTOR, JSTOR, Nomaguchi, Kei, and Amanda N. House. “Racial-Ethnic Disparities in Maternal Parenting Stress: The Role of Structural Disadvantages and Parenting Values.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior, vol. 54, no. 3, 2013, pp. 386–404. JSTOR, JSTOR, Color purple by Alice Walker

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