The Help

By: Kathryn Stockett

Genre

The Help by Kathryn Stockett has a couple of genres. They include realistic fiction, and drama.

Theme

The theme of the Help is society and class. In the early 1960's, Jackson, Mississippi is completely separated. Both the colored and the white have their separate neighborhoods, churches, grocery stores and so on. The white community will go as far as killing the colored community in order to maintain the Civil Rights Movement from merging the two races together. In this novel Miss Skeeter shows us how hard it was to be friendly with both races. She interviews the help of different white women on how it feels to look after a white child while someone else is taking care of their children at home. At the end of this book, Aibileen a black maid gets a job writing for the local newspaper. This act signifies the first sign of the two races merging.

Protagonist

Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is the protagonist in this novel. Skeeter is 23 and graduated with a degree from the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). She is not married and isn't dating anybody-much to her mothers dislike. Skeeter is very daring, brave and kind. She decides to step over the color barrier in Jackson, Mississippi and interview thirteen maids for a novel-titled the Help. Her dream is to become a writer and live in New York City.

Antagonist

Hilly Holbrook is the antagonist in this novel. Hilly is evil, but hides her motives. She is the president of the Junior League of Jackson and raises money for the starving children of Africa. Hilly is so connected in the community that if you cross her she can run you out of town without even getting her hands dirty. Hilly comes up with a initiative that states that the help should have a separate bathroom outside. She calls this The Home Help Sanitation Initiative. We never hear from her point of view, so we don't know why she goes to such great lengths to make sure the colored and white don't mix.

The Main Character

The main character in the Help is Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan. She is brave, daring and kind. Her weakness, at least in the beginning is not really having the common sense to know how many risks these maids are taking and how illegal it is to interview them. Her strength is in her resolve in wanting to expose the often difficult lives of black maids working in white households in Jackson. Skeeter's maid while she was growing up was named Constantine. Skeeter feels as if Constantine raised her and taught her to be who she is now. Skeeter knows that Constantine would be proud of how brave she was by expressing her opinion by interviewing the black help.

Quote for Justification

" I didn't think so, honey. Every day you're not dead in the ground, when you wake up in the morning, you're gonna have to make some decisions. Got to ask yourself this question: "Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today?" You hear me? "Am I gonna believe all them bad things them fools say about me today? You hear me today?" All right? As for your mama, she didn't pick her life. It picked her. But you, you're gonna do something big with yours. You wait and see."- Constantine Jefferson (talking to Skeeter)

External/Internal Conflicts

The external conflict in this story is man vs. society. Skeeter Phelan is fighting against the laws of Mississippi and illegally interviewing the help. By interviewing the help she is losing all her friends and boyfriend. The internal conflict in this story is man vs. man. The thirteen different maids are fighting a battle in their mind. The battle is whether or not to tell their stories to Miss Skeeter. They have to be very brave and daring. They tell the stories for their kids, so that they may have a better life then they did.

Climax

In the Help, there are three different stories, each in a different point of view. In Minny's point of view, the climax is when Mrs. Celia confronts Johnny about Minny being her maid. Mrs. Celia then makes a huge meal, using the tricks Minny taught her. Mrs. Celia and Johnny then eat the meal with Minny and tell her she will have a job there for the rest of her life. In Miss Skeeter's story the climax is when she is forced into a showdown with Hilly and their friendship is broken. In Aibileen's story the climax is when the book comes out and Hilly wants to prove that she was one of the maids. Hilly then accuses her of stealing Elizabeth's silver and gets her fired. When Aibileen is leaving Elizabeth's Mae Mobley (Elizabeth's daughter) calls Aibileen her real mom. Aibileen tells her that she has got to go and tells her to remember the three principles she taught her. (You is smart, You is kind and You is important.)

Resolution

In Minny's story the resolution is when Minny gets enough confidence to divorce her alcoholic husband. She gets the confidence from knowing she will have a job at Mr. Johnny and Mrs. Celia's for the rest of her life. She states "done took this long enough." In Skeeter's story the resolution is when she gets the job at Harper and Row in New York City. She knows she needs to go because what she said in the book left her with nothing in Jackson. In Aibileen's story the resolution is when she takes the job at the newspaper, writing for the housecleaning colum. This also means that Mae Mobley is her last white baby.

Personal Opinion of Book

I really enjoyed this book. It really made me think about how these maids had to struggle. It was an eye opening to me of how bad segregation was in not only Jackson, but the whole south. I would suggest this book to anybody.

Setting

The setting in this book is the early 1960's, Jackson, Mississippi. Jackson was one of the worst parts of the south in terms of segregation. Jackson still remains one of the most segregated cities in the U.S. The setting in the book states that the colored and white do not only live apart, but also that they can only interact in certain situations.