The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a coming of age novel about a black maid during the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the 1960s. The relationship between black and white is a complex spectrum of hate, abuse, mistrust, as well as love, attachment and dependence. I love the Howell Raines quote that Stockett includes in her personal excerpt at the end of the novel:
There is no trickier subject for a writer from the South than that of affection between a black person and a white one in the unequal world of segregation. For the dishonesty upon which a society is founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism.
This in the expanse of words provides an eloquent way to describe Stockett’s intentions of this novel, while a lot of the reviews will more than likely focus on the racial aspects of this book , one of the most haunting things is pointed out by the statements that discuss the fact that while you are paying someone to care for you, and their livelihood is now dependent upon ensuring that you are happy, can you really expect the relationship to be an honest one?
I was born twenty years after the civil rights movement, and while I did grow up in the south, I did not have maids or things of that nature because I was a member of the poor or middle-class throughout my childhood, but the racial mindset of the South is still somewhat cemented in this hatred for the difference between blacks and whites.
This story is very strong and very touching and well written. I love the fact that the style complements the plot, it makes for a fantastic read. The grammatically incorrect pose is something that makes the novel all the more real, all the more honest in its delivery. A white woman secretly compiling true accounts of the black maids of the well-to do households in Mississippi. The good and the bad, Skeeter in her novel tries to portray the fact that people are just people no matter the color of their skin, no matter what “color” God has graced them with.
This novel was very well written, and I would recommend reading it. It may take a bit of time to get into, but it is well worth the read and I think that the message is very important.