Guest Post: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
My Mom and I both read The Help recently. Well, she read it and then told me to drop whatever else I was doing and read it, too, so she would have someone to talk about it with. After I finished it, we talked on the phone for a bit about the characters we loved and the ones that made our blood boil. It’s one of those books that requires discussing with someone else who has be let in on the secret.
Even before I started The Help, Mom offered to write a guest blog post for the book. She contributed a guest post a while back, and I’m very happy to welcome her back with some of her thoughts on The Help.
When I was browsing through the bookstore today and saw copies of The Help on the shelf I was tempted to open the cover and see how my friends were doing. I closed the cover on my copy of the book over a week ago but I have not forgotten the characters. I doubt I ever will.
I feel badly for how quickly I blazed through the book. I lost sleep. I worried. I was reluctant to say too much about the plot for fear that someone might find out about the project Miss Skeeter, Aibileen and Minny were working on. I felt responsible for keeping the secret safe. People could get hurt.
I am indebted to Kathryn Stockett for bringing me back to the 1960’s. Even though I was a child in Canada, I remember watching Walter Cronkite reporting on the Civil Rights movement in the States. I remember being let out of school early the day John F. Kennedy was shot and I remember that I was babysitting when the news broke about Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
This week, as the story settled into me, I wondered what might have become of these characters in today’s world. Would Mae Mobley (who would be just five years younger than me) grow to be a confident, loving person with the three simple phrases that Aibileen made her repeat on the day Aibileen left her home? I wondered what stories Miss Skeeter went on to tell when she moved to New York. Kathryn Stockett – I think there’s room for another book here.
Even though this story is fictional, it brought back the news reports and gave me a glimpse of the immense amount of courage it took to bring about change. And now, 40 plus years later, America has a black president. Wouldn’t Aibileen be amazed?
It is Saturday as I write this and so, in keeping with Alita’s Soundtrack Saturday feature, I’ve chosen the anthem of the Civil Rights Movement, We Shall Overcome, sung by Mahalia Jackson as the soundtrack of courage to accompany The Help.
I completely agree with Mom about how involved Stockett makes the reader feel. During the last 50-ish pages, I felt so much anxiety for the characters, I couldn’t eat and read pretty much right through dinner time. There are numerous passages in this book that I could highlight, but I’m going to leave you with the one that stood out to me the most. This is Minny giving her reason for being involved in Skeeter’s project:
And I know there are plenty of other “colored” things I could do besides telling my stories or going to Shirley Boon’s meetings – the mass meetings in town, the marches in Birmingham, the voting rallies upstate. But truth is, I don’t care that much about voting. I don’t care about eating at a counter with white people. What I care about is, if in ten years, a white lady will call my girls dirty and accuse them of stealing the silver. (p. 218)