Jennifer's Reviews > The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
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Nov 08, 10

Read from November 02 to 09, 2010

I very much enjoyed this novel. It is an unsentimental, funny and touching account of the hearts of black and white people living together in Mississippi in the 1960s. It is about the corruption of the relationships by the injustice of society, and is a sensitive attempt to come to grips with the costs of the injustice in simple human terms, employing the voices of smart, wise black domestic workers (fictionally). It speaks of the heartbreak of the domestic who brings up the white child to love, and tries to protect them from hate and judgement in a society where all relationships are based on these qualities. It observes the pain of her heart breaking when the child grows old enough to try to impose what s/he has learned about power relationships upon the black maid that has loved her even beyond the reaches of her own mother. And it shows the cage of keeping up appearances, and status and social exclusion which confined the white women.

Stockett, in the version I read, points us to the sensitive (and still available online through the NYT) Pulitzer prize winning essay by Howell Raines, called Grady's Gift, in which he says:
" 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 if founded makes every emotion suspect, makes it impossible to know whether what flowed between two people was honest feeling or pity or pragmatism."

In this fictional work, Stockett comes some way to explaining the love- hate relationship she describes with Mississippi, and to helping us to understand how slowly progress hastens.
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11/04/2010 page 150
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