The Help

The help is a post- modern literary work by Kathryn Stockett. The book
is about three maids in Jackson, Mississipi, where Stockett grew up. It
explores the lives of three house helps who are African- Americans,
working in the houses of the houses of elite white. Stockett was close
to her grandparents’ African- American domestic worker as demonstrated
in the book. She belongs to the postmodern literary movement which
explores new styles of writing such as paradox and fragmentation. The
postmodern literary works also use irony, playfulness, and black humor a
lot, as seen in Stockett’s work (Valby 1). The book also explores
modern themes such as the rise of feminism and racism, which has seen
many women work outside the household, giving rise to the central role
played by maids in modern households.
The novel is about three women from Jackson, Mississippi. The story
explores racial relations in Mississippi. It is a story about black
women who spend a lot of their time bringing up white children of the
upper class. The story also explores the plight of black women who in
most times leave their children in the care of other people, to bring up
children. They spend their time bringing up children who eventually grow
up to discriminate people despite the role played by black people in
their lives. Minny is a black maid who is hot headed, and this makes it
hard for her to keep a job. She finally gets employed by a person who is
new in the town and does not know about her past. Aibileen is a woman
who has left her child at home to come and work in the houses of white
people, bringing up their children. Ms. Skeeter is a white woman who
wants to be a writer (Dollacker 5). When she finally gets her big break,
she decides to write about black maids, through the experiences of Minny
and Aibileen.
The book’s major theme is racism. The book is set in the 1960s, when
racism was a big issue in society. The book sets to explore racial
differences, which cast the black people as being unimportant in
society despite the roles they play (Stockett 2). The book is intended
to show that racism is a social construction because the white children
are not born racists. The children, in fact, like the black women.
However, as they grow up, they become racists through social learning.
The post- modern literary period focused on telling the story of black
people in society. The focus is to show the important role they play and
the struggles they undergo in a racist society (Stockett 4). For
example, Aibleen has raised seventeen white children who end up looking
down on black people. She does her level best to keep Mae Mobley from
becoming racist when she grows up.
The novel is a reflection of the writer’s own life. In an interview
with The Guardian, Stockett reveals that the story is about her
grandparents’ maid who brought her up. She says that the novel takes
the voice of Demetrie, the maid who brought her up (Day 1). In the
novel, Aibileen represents Demetrie and Stockett is trying to show that
she understands what Demetrie goes through. The story is also about a
writer who is exploring racial segregation and is scared that she might
have grave consequences if she is discovered. In the interview, Stockett
reveals that she was also scared to write the novel because racism is a
deep issue that no one wants to discuss (Day 1). Just like Miss Skeeter,
Stockett not sure of the consequences she faces from writing The Help.
Therefore, based on the interview, the novel is a reflection of
Stockett’s life.
Literary criticism can be about a book or an author’s whole work of
writing. The criticism explores the major themes explored, the style of
writing, and the tone of the work. Literary criticism is done after
reading a book and then trying to give personal views about the book.
This is independent of the writer’s ideas and intentions for the book.
It entails a lot of library research. The research can also be from
online sources depending on the availability of the work in online
resources. Criticism in research is important as it is a kind of peer
review activity. It also helps to summarize a writer’s work, from
another person’s point of view. This can be helpful to a writer in
trying to improve her work.
In conclusion, The Help is a great read that highlights the racial
problem that still faces modern society. The book highlights the
emotional and social problems that house helps undergo while also
highlighting their personal problems. It also helps one to understand
the importance of the house helps, based on the roles they play in the
lives of many people. Stockett write the book from a personal
experience, and this is useful in combining fact and fiction. The theme
of racism is well highlighted, in a society that would rather ignore the
topic of racism altogether.
Works Cited
Day, Elizabeth. “Kathryn Stockett: I Still Think I am Going to get
into trouble for Tackling the Issue of Race in America” The Observer.
New York: Guardian News and Media Limited, 9/10/2011. Print.
Dollacker, Sarah Sacha. HYPERLINK
“http://www.accessatlanta.com/dunwoody/content/arts/stories/2009/02/01/h
elp0201bk.html” “Segregation tale describes bond of women” . Atlanta
Journal-Constitution. Atlanta: Atlanta Journal, February 1, 2009. Print.
Stockett, Kathryn. Book Club Set the Help. New York: Springer, 2009.
Print.
Valby, Karen. “Book review: The Help” Entertainment Weekly. New
York: Entertainment Weekly Inc, 11/02/2009. Print
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