The Help

By: Kathryn Stockett

Summary

This book is set in the early 1960's. Essentially, it is a story about African-American maids working in Mississippi for white families. The story bases itself around a young white girl called "skeeter". Skeeter comes home from university and finds out her childhood nanny was fired for giving birth out of wedlock. This leads skeeter to begin writing narratives from the perspective of the black maids. In the end, the book written by skeeter turns out to give the black maids a loud voice in the community. Something that they did not have before.

Classroom Use #1

Often times, this book is popular among young adults. This book may be used in a High school English classroom as part of a summer reading log. If used during the semester, perhaps the class can discuss the cultural implications that are present in the novel.

Classroom Use #2

This novel can also be used in a history classroom. The novel would be good resource to use if analyzing different pieces of literature that describe the civil rights movement, segregation, etc.

Why is this book problematic?

The novel is based in Mississippi, and accurately depicts the way life was lived in the early 60's in the south. However, the novel is problematic because it feeds into the stereotype that minorities need to be advocated for by a white person. While the novel depicted within the novel was from the perspective of black maids, it was published by a white woman. This may be because minorities struggled to have works publish, but the novel portrays helpless black women being given a voice thanks to a white woman. It completely dismisses the fight that African-Americans had to go through in order to have equal rights in this country.