Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960's was a time of turmoil concerning civil rights and racial equality. It was a violent and troubled town with many residents still harboring racist notions about life. Blacks were not given the same respect as whites, and were therefore treated undoubtedly inferior to their white counterparts. Because of this oppression in social, economic and political aspects of life, blacks were made to be quiet about their daily abuses for fear of being attacked, physically or verbally. Ms. Skeeter sees that these untold stories, especially of the black woman housekeepers, are vital to bring about change and understanding within the community. Without contributing their stories to the book, all of the black woman would only amplify their oppression by not letting their voices be heard in the community and not giving truthful depictions of their lives in a position of being the help.
Within the novel, the idea of whites power over blacks is presented over and over again. One of the first examples seen is Miss Hilly's suggested law to build separate maid quarters. She feels it is necessary because “it's just plain dangerous. Everybody knows [black people] carry different kinds of diseases than [white people] do.” (Stockett, pag. 10) While it is clear that Miss Hilly's information is not as accurate as she thinks, it shows that most white people were aware of their superiority and wanted to maintain separate facilities. It also represents all blacks as being ultimately much filthier than any white person. This type of treatment was common in a household that had a black maid as whites were happy to have them cleaning in their homes and taking care of their children, but at the end of the day they were still seen as lesser individuals who were not worthy of sharing the same facilities.
Another example is the fact that whites have the ability to create false statements about their help and cause them to never get another job in their life...
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