The Help by Kathryn Stockett takes a close look at the racial divisions of Mississippi in the 1960’s. The book is told through three perspectives; Aibileen-a black woman who works at the help in a white woman’s home, Minny-another black woman who is another help worker that allows her sharp tongue to get her into trouble, and Skeeter- a young white woman who must face the difficulty of the prejudice around her. The novel looks at all three women during the time of turmoil in the south with the civil rights moments and Martin Luther King Jr. coming into the picture. Skeeter, desperate to make a difference in the world as a writer, decides to write a book about the help in Mississippi and their stories about their white bosses. Most of the help are afraid but due to the intense situation for black people in the South but they decide to give their stories anyway. This novel is about three women trying to find a voice in a time where they would not have one; to make a difference in a backward state that is unwilling to look to the future. They have the world against them but that does not stop them from having their voices heard.
I was recommended by many, many people to read this book and thank goodness I got around to reading it. This book is by far one of the best books I have read in the past 6 months. It is a page turner not only that you want to know what the characters do and what is to become of them; but it’s the feeling of needing to know the ending of something. It touched a spot in my heart that I am not sure any other book has. The story is encouraging, educational, sympathetic, and wonderful. It shows the true face of Mississippi during a very important historical change in the United States. While the world was changing around it Mississippi, being the stubborn state that she was, remained just as she always has been. They believed in segregation and keeping a separation of races; they were born different so they should remain different was the key thought. There is one character, Miss Hilly, who embodies the ideals and the prejudice of the South in every breath that she breathes and it is difficult to feel any sympathy towards her. But more of the emotion of anger and frustration comes across when you read about her; there is a deep desire just to slap her upside the head in hopes of knocking some sense into her. It is hard to believe that my country was like that at one point; on the brink of internal war once again over the idea of racism. Minny and Aibileen are two women who the reader can feel for the most; the difficulties that they are trusted enough to raise someone’s child but not enough to be left alone in a white woman’s home. They have their own trials they must face outside the “safety” of the houses they work at; Jackson, Mississippi had its own destruction that causes chaos throughout the city.
I find it difficult to understand that people have such views about the racism but that is how people were brought up back then. It may seem cruel but we still suffer with racism in the 21st century. It may not be directed at African-Americans as much today but it is directed at others like Islamic people, gypsy people and many others who are of a minority of larger countries. It is purely based on people being shallow minded and ignorant towards a group of individuals that they do not understand. We should live in a world where we should become more informed of our fellow-man and respect each other for being different. This book is a representation of how we should not act and bring down those who may not have it off as well as we do. Why should we treat people different just because of the color of their skin, their religion, cultural background and even education? We have all been guilty of discriminating and staring down others but we should use this book as a lesson from our past that hatred only leads to violence. The civil rights movements were dangerous and we should be looking to the past and not allow our mistakes to creep back on us once more. Skeeter is an example to all that we should judge people, if you need to, by their actions and their character more than their appearance or social standing or background. Remember we are all different in one way or another; embrace the diversity of our world, not neglect it.
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