December 1, 2009
Morals are a person’s beliefs regarding what is and is not acceptable. In the 1960’s, there were strict lines between right and wrong, or what was legal and illegal. Not only were these lines strict, they were notorious as well. Jackson, Mississippi was a place where racism and segregation was involved in every aspect of daily lives. Jim Crow laws were the leading factors in social norms. In the novel, The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, a white woman, named Skeeter Phelan, aspires to be a writer. She joins forces with the black maids in her town, better known as “the help,” to secretly write about the reality of working for white women in the South. Two maids in particular, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, push their moral boundaries to the limit to help Skeeter tell her story. While Skeeter reveals all the Help’s experiences, she also gives a variety of morality lessons.
Skeeter’s story gives us a variety of morality lessons. Treat the caretaker of your elderly and children with respect. Treat the person who maintains the order of your house with respect. And the most obvious, don’t disrespect the person cooking your food. All these lessons are taught throughout the novel, but I’d like to examine a less obvious one: Treat the person telling you her story with respect. You can read several hundred pages of The Help and still be impressed with how Skeeter navigates the narration of the “Negro” maids’ stories. Then, you’ll read that she absent mindedly leaves behind the satchel with some of those stories at what amounts to a small town Junior League meeting, whose leader is a particularly disgusting but typically racist white woman advocating for separate toilets in all homes with “Negro” help. Skeeter worries about her disobedience. She worries about little Miss Hilly getting her hands on these stories. However, this is far more than a wrongdoing. This could amount to a death sentence...