In case you’re the last person who hasn’t read it yet, The Help, is the first novel from Kathryn Stockett. By the way, don’t worry if you’re the last person to read it. I’m frequently the last person to read that which the rest of the world is aware!
Anyhoo, The Help is the story of a young white woman in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 and a group of black maids who work for the families of her friends. Stockett writes about the struggles the women face as they chafe against the written and unwritten rules that limit their lives. The Help is an incredibly powerful, oftentimes uneasily digestible story that crosses racial, societal, and emotional lines.
Stockett vividly evokes a time and place in which racism is still a way of life, but is being confronted by the civil rights movement. For example, whites are persecuted for “integration violation” and blacks are fired or jailed for even unsubstantiated accusations of impropriety or theft, beaten and blinded for using white-only bathroom. Just writing that makes my stomach turn. But it was the reality. And it must not be forgotten.
The story is told from three point-of-views: that of two black maids and a young white woman who is the daughter of a big cotton farmer and raised by a black maid. The three-tiered points of view work well in that it allows readers to absorb the story from different perspectives, each one powerful in its own way. The novel is a complex, immaculately structured and tremendously convincing story. I was riveted (& repulsed!) by this story, all the while recognizing its inherent need to be told.
It’s an amazing book. A must read (Silver Lining). One that, I hope, makes it into classrooms in America.
Fast forward to the film version of The Help, directed and written – at Stockett’s request – by the relatively inexperienced Tate Taylor (her friend from Jackson).
The HOTY (a/k/a Husband of the Year) and I went to see it over the weekend and I have to say that I loved it. I never, ever say this, but I believe that it does full justice to the intention of the book. In fact, I would see it again. The film does a great job portraying the characters without resorting to caricatures, which is no small task!
The film not only teaches about segregation and the importance of racial equality, but it also shows how oppressed people have important stories to tell.
I hope that you will read the book and see the film. Both are Silver Linings.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway.
If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway.
The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway.
— Mother Teresa