The Help Is an American novel that represents an era of civil rights, written by the point of view of a white educated southern woman, in a very different time period of what the book is set in. The Help takes place during the 1960’s in Jackson, Mississippi. This novel tells a story about the relationships between African-American maids and their white employers. During the 1960’s, not only in Mississippi but the greater part of the south, African-American women were the nannies and maids to white families for generations and dealt with racism in order to earn an income for their own families. The Help not only touches on a racist time era but a sexist one as well. In The 60’s women were to be mothers and housewives but some wanted to be more than that, this novel tells another story about a young educated southern woman trying to achieve a career in a male dominant profession.
The author is Kathryn Stockett, a white southern woman from Jackson, Mississippi. She grew up in Jackson with her own African-American nanny who died when she was sixteen. She narrates The Help as two African-American maids and one young white woman; all live and grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. Stockett’s point of view in this novel is that she was one of those many children in the South that had a second mother who was black and wanted to tell those nanny’s stories on behalf of her own deceased nanny. She makes the two African-American narrators the protagonist, Aibileen and Minny, and the young white women, Skeeter, is also a protagonist who wants to tell the truth about Jackson, Mississippi and does so by convincing Aibileen and Minny and others to tell their stories about being nannies to white families.
The Help was published in 2009, the year Barack Obama took office. 2009 was important year for America; it was the year that the first African-American president took office. During the campaign a lot of racial tension started rising, even though America had changed drastically since the 60’s there were still some old ignorant views. This book was written during a time when America had progressed for the better but its individuals hadn’t. The campaigning of president Obama could have reminded Stockett of how much America has changed in such a short time but how some people hadn’t.
Kathryn Stockett wrote this book because she felt that she needed to tell the story of the African-American maids and their white employers relationship. It was written to tell the truth of Jackson, Mississippi in the 60’s, to make America aware of what was going on down in the south during that era. Kathryn admits in an interview that she herself was at one point in her life prejudice but she also states how much she loved her own nanny Demetrie, who raised her till she was 16. Stockett wrote this book so that people could speak about race in general, people avoid the topic because it’s a sensitive subject that many individuals find uncomfortable or better left unsaid.
The Help takes an individual back in time to an era of racism and puts the reader in the shoes of two southern black maids and a young educated white women. This novel brings the reader to realize how much the world has changed and how much society has as well. In less than 60 years America has gone from strict segregation to having a black president in office. The Help also takes the reader back to a time of sexism, when women were to be doting housewives and child bearers. This novel shows how young Skeeter was too educated for her mother’s liking and was constantly being haggled to settle down at the age of 23 and find a husband, except she wanted to become a writer, a man’s profession in the 60’s. Today in America a woman can do anything she wants, no matter her race, as long as she has the right education and determination.
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