The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Topics: Black people, African American, White people Pages: 5 (1318 words) Published: November 30, 2014
SETTING

The Help is set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi , in Stocketts hometown The Setting is important for the plot of the book because Jackson is still known as one of the most segregated towns in the U.S"

MAIN CHARACTERS

The Help is told from the point of view of 3 different women, namely, AIBILEEN, MINNY, AND SKEETER. AIBILEEN is an African-American maid who cleans houses and cares for the children of white families. MINNY is also an African-American maid and she is Aibileen's friend. She has frequently given her honest opinion to her employers with the result of having been fired many times. EUGENIA "SKEETER" PHELAN is the member of a rich white family whose cotton farm employs many African Americans in the fields and in the household. Skeeter has just finished college and comes home with the dream of becoming a writer although her mother rather wants her to get married. At that time, a "good" woman was supposed to get married, have children and be a good housewife and mother but for Skeeter it is her career that is most important.

PLOT SUMMARY

When Skeeter has turned back home she wonders where her former maid and nanny Constantine was. As her family always tries to avoid giving her answers about Constantine's disappearance she finally finds out the truth, namely, she was fired for being too old and slow. Due to the injustice and cruelty that Constantine and other colored maids in the South have experienced, Skeeter decides to reveal the truth about being a colored maid in Mississippi and to write a book about it. She tries to connect with a group of black maids in order to gain their trust. A task that turns out to be quite difficult and tricky as writing a book about African Americans in the South during the early 1960s breaks social rules and puts all the black maids at risk.

Since the death of her 24-years-ols son Treelore it is Aibileen' s first job in the Leefolt household. She mainly takes care of their baby Mae Mobley who she always calls baby girl.

Minny's most recent employer Mrs. Walters is the mother of Hilly Holbrook who is the social leader of the community and head of the Junior League. One day the White population of the community decides to construct segregated bathrooms for the black servants as they think black people carrying diseases.

The decision for segregated bathrooms finally makes Aibileen agreeing on cooperating with Skeeter on her book about the black maids of Jackson and they begin spending their evenings together and build a friendship. Minny also agrees to work with them and they try to get other maids involved but they are all too frightened in the beginning.

One day Hilly's maid Yule May asks Hilly to loan her 75$ to send her sons to college. When Hilly refuses her request Yule steals a ring. Hilly finds out about that and uses her influence to have Yule sentenced to four years in the state penitentiary. The other black maids are angry about Hilly and the way she treated Yule May so that they decide to tell their individual experiences to Skeeter.

Finally Skeeter's book gets published anonymously and becomes a national bestseller. Soon, the white women of Jackson begin recognizing themselves in the book's characters.

The book becomes a powerful force in giving a voice to black maids which causes Jackson's community to strongly reconsider the system of segregation.

TRAILER A film adaptation of "The Help" was released in 2011. But just as an aside the film does not include all the events and details of the book and should not be considered as 1:1 illustration.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

The Help takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960s during the civil rights era. Aibileen, Minny, and all the other African-American maids at that time took a grave risk in their fight against racial intolerance. By helping Ms. Skeeter write her book about black maids working for white families, all the maids took a chance of losing their job, their...
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