The Help – Book Experience

When a woman writes book on women, the streak of honesty prevails. Compassion followed and bitter-sweet truths are revealed. The Help is that book. It handles the sensitive issue of racism with a fine balance, supported conveniently by the fictional accounts. It talks of discrimination, audacity and indifference of white community towards the African-American maids. The story never get lost in the intellectual take of racism, rather it focuses on the grass root challenges supported strongly by nuanced portrait of individual characters.

What makes it even more interesting is the parallel narratives by three woman of heterogeneous background, profession and personality. Their unique perception of the overlapping sub plots gives reader the craving.

Kathryn Stockett authored The Help in 2009. The story revolves around African-American maids working in white households in Jackson, Mississippi, during the early 1960s. The story starts with everyday account of lives in Jackson. Stockett writes about the struggles the women face as they chafe against the written and unwritten rules that limit their lives. Honest account of emotions and nuanced characterizations helped avoiding the cliché.

Writer chose three characters Aibileen Clark, Minny Jackson, and Skeeter Phelan to tell these stories. These three woman are stranger yet acquainted at different levels. They belonged to different communities. Had diverse life style. Varied temperaments and unique challenges. Aibileen was a maid, lost her only son, sensible, pray every day, courageous and could write. Minny wore her temperament on her sleeves, friend with Aibileen, worked as maid, had lousy husband and bunch full kids. Skeeter had white skin, belonged to the upper class, friends with the ladies who hired Minny and Aibileen as help. A subtle twist backed with sensitivity of Skeeter and courage of Aibileen, brought all of them together. They started their hide outs to document their stories. Stories of racism, their everyday struggle, their guts to challenge the unwritten rules and obey the obvious.

As the novel comes to closure. They all became liberated in their own way. Their struggles finds the day light. They moved towards sunshine. They lost few battles, won few. Together, they all devised independent ways to be happy. Isn’t that life is all about?


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