The Help Essay

Submitted By rosyelena
Words: 2654
Pages: 11

The Help is a book, and movie, which follows the lives Skeeter and her black maid who lived in Jackson, Mississippi. Skeeter, when she gets home from being away at school she sees how things have changed in how African-Americans were being treated. Skeeter gets an idea of writing a book about the help, she calls Elaine Stein who thinks that no maid would agree to be interviewed. One night Skeeter runs into Aibeleen and asks if she would agree to take part in her book, Aibeleen said no because she did not want to discuss her life as a maid with her to be published in a boo. Later on in the book Aibeleen agrees to be interviewed for the book and Skeeter comes over and is rushed in the house making sure no one sees. Skeeter asks Hilly’s maid, also a black maid, if she would agree to be interviewed for the book, again Skeeter is turned down. Hilly warns Skeeter of racism in their town and Skeeter should be careful. One night when Skeeter is eating at a restaurant, a waiter tells her that there are twenty maids waiting to be interviewed for her book. Once they review the book to be finalized they make sure to hide certain peoples’ identities and then the book is finished. Once the book is published it becomes a sensation in Mississippi.

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Hilly's insistence on the blind date represents the societal pressures to conform even in one's appearance. White women should be pretty, well-kept, and stylish but not draw too much attention. Skeeter's appearance is criticized because she is tall, has unruly hair, and wears little makeup. There is pressure for her to look like the cute, blonde, sorority girls from her college days, the ones who dropped out of school to marry. Skeeter finds the reliance on outward appearance silly and impossible, but she succumbs to it and agrees to go on a blind date with someone who should be a good match because of his wealth and social status. Stuart is shocked when Skeeter speaks her mind.

Skeeter's earnest naiveté is revealed even more. She assumed that being with Aibileen would be as easy as it was with Constantine when as a child she was allowed to visit and play in the black neighborhood. Skeeter is surprised by Aibileen's reluctance to help her and begins to question how her role as a white woman creates a distance between herself and Aibileen. This questioning foreshadows a personal transformation that will occur in Skeeter as the novel progresses.

Note that Hilly's characterization is that of the nemesis of each black maid. Though she claims to be charitable through her Junior League fundraising, it is clear that Hilly is power-hungry and ambitious. She directs Elizabeth's every move and threatens retaliation against anyone who disagrees with her. She'll stop at nothing to get what she wants and to have her community remain segregated and proud.
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, is truly one of the absolute greatest books I have ever read. The author has an amazing way of helping you either really really love the characters, or really really hate them. She has an excellent way of helping the reader feel close to the narrator (distance), which really helps the reader relate to the story (very important in a book like this!). The book has a really cool way of taking a really large issue (segregation/persecution/etc;) and making it into a story that is relate-able to the reader, which is important in any writing to keep the reader reading! The tone of this book was, despite the topic, funny and cheerful. Overall, I really think this will always be one of my favorite books EVER.

Annotated Bibliography
Stockett, Kathryn.The Help. New York: Amy Einhorn, 2009. Print.

Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help, revolves around the lives of three characters in particular: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen and Minny in particular are two of the many black maids working under the households of white families in Jackson, Mississippi. Through their personal experiences, the two maids help…