Historical fiction is just that, fiction. However, to be considered historical, certain aspects of the book have to coincide with real happenings. Things such as settings, events, character traits, and language all need to be realistic. This entails a huge amount of research done by the author to support his/her novel and create a reliable, engaging read. Kathryn Stockett, the author of The Help, intertwines both fact and fiction accurately depicting life in the south and the hardships that African Americans faced back in the 1960’s.
One of the most important aspects when writing a historical fiction novel is the setting. If this is accurate then the reader can focus on the characters and story without subconsciously wondering why, for example, there is a character in the early 1960’s speeding off in a Camero. Stockett avoids this dilemma and portrays distinct traits of the time period and location of her novel that prove to be consistent with history. Language was presented as southern drawl and racist words that are severely frowned upon nowadays were often used. These things presented the ideas of its location being in the south and before these words were deemed politically incorrect and offensive. Historical figures such as James Meredith, Medgar Evers, Rosa Parks, and JF Kennedy were all mentioned as to set the relative time period: the 1960’s. Another way Stockett hints at the setting is by the experiences her characters go through or have gone through in the past, such as the Vietnam War and the Great Depression. Economic standings were also mentioned throughout the book, giving examples of wages and job opportunities that only connect to that of the 1960’s. Another way the setting comes through to the reader is the author’s descriptions of Jackson, Mississippi.
… Just one white neighborhood after the next and more springing up down the road. But the colored part of town, we one big anthill, surrounded by state land that ain’t
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