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Book Discussions > The Help/SPOILER THREAD!

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message 1: by Mary (Marbear), Founder (new)

Mary (Marbear) (mbeth45) | 11708 comments Mod
This thread is for members to post as they read the book and when they have finished. DO NOT READ PAST this post if you don't want to know what happens in the book.

Marbear


message 2: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Perretti (Jennie1969) | 53 comments I can't put this book down...I would like to reach my hands into this book and pull these wives hair out!!! It bothers me so much how these maids were treated and how none of the women take care of there own children and leave the maids to do EVERYTHING!!!! Okay, I gotta read some more now...Bye for now..


message 3: by LemonLinda (new)

LemonLinda (lwilliamson42353) I listened to the audio version early in January and was totally mesmerized. I felt totally immersed in the book for the duration of the (I think) 18 hours it took to finish it and the times between listening when I was wanting to get back to it.


message 4: by Wallace (new)

Wallace I read this book a little while ago and loved it, of course, I haven't met anyone who hasn't liked this book so that's not saying much.

Once people get a little further, I will start sharing more.


message 5: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Perretti (Jennie1969) | 53 comments I want to read the last few pages because I'm so curious about what happens but I won't do it!! I look forward to the end of the day when I could read more of this book:) Its so hard to find a book like these where you can't wait to start reading again and you dread when it will end. I hope most of you who are reading this or will start will feel the same way.


message 6: by Nadia (new)

Nadia (bagambo) I loved this book! It is such a great read. Can't wait to read what everyone thought of it!


message 7: by Jenn (new)

Jenn Perretti (Jennie1969) | 53 comments Just finished this wonderful story...Loved it!!


message 8: by Nadia (new)

Nadia (bagambo) I absolutely loved Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter. I found them to be strong and intelligent women. I loved that they worked together on such an important book that helped to not only illustrate the real lives of the housekeepers and their employers, but it also helped Minny, Skeeter and Aibileen grow out of their shells: Minny finally left her abusive husband, Aibileen gets fired, but winds up feeling a sense of freedom, and Skeeter left home for the big Apple.


message 9: by Kim (new)

Kim (MrsNesbitt) | 1082 comments I thought that Stockett captured the Civil Rights movement from a unique perspective. I, being raised in the mid-west-post-movement, had know idea about how hard it was for some blacks who didn't want to make waves. I can also identify with the housekeepers, since I too am privy to peoples private lives as a nanny. I am not mistreated, but I have been there for many moments that most people would not normally witness.

I was impressed with how sensitive Stockett handles a very volitle subject.



message 10: by Sheri (new)

Sheri Lemay | 33 comments I was very hesitant to read this book. Just from the jacket write up it didn't seem to be something I would normally read or even want to. Once I started reading it, however, I found I couldn't put it down and thought it was well written and well thought out. The writing made me want to shake some of those idiots and I was actually able to compare the mentality of some of the women in the book to some people I know from around me.


message 11: by Meghan (new)

Meghan Sheri wrote: "I was very hesitant to read this book. Just from the jacket write up it didn't seem to be something I would normally read or even want to. Once I started reading it, however, I found I couldn't p..."

Me too! I sas on the fence about getting this book, just because the description didn't sound very enticing. But boy am I glad I did. Great pick ladies and gents!


message 12: by [deleted user] (new)

Just finished the book and can't say enough good things - an important and beautiful story, in spite of Hateful Hilly!

I hope there's a sequel about Skeeter and what's going on in New York during those times.

btw, who should play Skeeter if there's a film?


message 13: by Nadia (new)

Nadia (bagambo) T.C. - I hope there's a sequel, too! And they are making a movie out of the book. They are in pre-production, so that cast hasn't been selected yet ( that was what I last heard, who knows now). What about that Rachel Evan Wood for Skeeter?



message 14: by Donna, Moderator (new)

Donna (DonnaSafford) | 1586 comments Mod
I really love this book. I read it a few months ago and have recommended it to others. It made me feel good, uncomfortable, sad, and hopeful. The main female characters were each strong in their own ways, and I felt like I was witnessing history. Ms. Stockett wrote with compassion and clarity - well done!


message 15: by Sheri (new)

Sheri Lemay | 33 comments Meghan wrote: "Sheri wrote: "I was very hesitant to read this book. Just from the jacket write up it didn't seem to be something I would normally read or even want to. Once I started reading it, however, I foun..."

I actually just discussed this book with my Mom today over lunch and now she's going to read it.


message 16: by Angela Lynn (new)

Angela Lynn Holland (bookaunt) Here are some discussions questions I used for my bookclub, I thought maybe you would enjoy answering them too.

1. Who was your favorite character? Why?

2. What do you think motivated Hilly? On one hand she's so unpleasant to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes she can't control her. But she's a wonderful mother. Do you think you can be a good mother but at the same time a deeply flawed person?

3. Like Hilly, Skeeter's mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter – and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives to Constantine is untenable. And most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter's mother is a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Why?

4. How much of a person's character do you think is shaped by the times in which they live?

5. Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart's faults so that she can get married, and it's not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?

6. Do you think Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?

7. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?

8. From the perspective of a 21st century reader, the hair shellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of "beauty" changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what's the most ridiculous beauty regimen you ever underwent?

9. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?

10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white? Have you heard stories of someone who put away their valuable jewelry before their nanny comes – so they trust this person to look after their child, but not their diamond rings?

11. What did you think about Minny's pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?



message 17: by L (new)

L | 9 comments I was so relieved to finish the book without encountering the whites inflicting any physical violence against the black maids who helped Skeeter write the book.

I do hope that people understand that while the behavior of the white women is totally unacceptable today, and should have been unacceptable historically, it was how things had been for generations, it was ingrained in the culture, and for the most part the well-to-do young white girls had not witnessed or learned anything different. Skeeter is heroic in her actions. Please hate the sin, not the sinner. Thankfully, we have come a long way, but there is still need for improvement.


message 18: by L (new)

L | 9 comments I just finished the book and enjoyed reading it. I'm especially impressed with the author's ability to capture the dialect of the women and the use of multiple narrators which reminded me of Faulkner. Stockett was brilliant in the way she captured the historical culture of the time and place in a fictional narrative. It's an important story and as a woman born in the South in 1956 I'm glad to say we've come a long way.


message 19: by Mary (Marbear), Founder (new)

Mary (Marbear) (mbeth45) | 11708 comments Mod
I have a question. Do you think that older people (in the 70's and 80's feel different about people of a different color? My grandmother died at 72 but she felt very differently about people who are not white. I work in a pharmacy with a pharmacist from India. The older customer are so rude to him just because he's not white. In fact we also have a great guy who is black. An olderly woman come in the other day and called him "the colored boy." The pharmacist from India went crazy and made her so she was sorry. Why do you think older people in the US feel differently about people who aren't white?

marbear


message 20: by L (new)

L | 9 comments I think it depends on where and under what conditions they lived in the U.S. prior to civil rights laws. I'm from southern Virginia. A lot of people of my grandparents' generation where I grew up believed differently than I do. My grandfather and I had to agree to disagree on this matter. I saw some of my parents' generation change in attitude, most of my generation (I was in my high school the year it was desegregated), and now, fortunately, many of today's teenagers don't even comprehend how it was for minorities 60 years ago because it is unimaginable to them.


message 21: by Mary (Marbear), Founder (new)

Mary (Marbear) (mbeth45) | 11708 comments Mod
Hi L. I totally agree with you. My mom doesn't feel the way my grandmother did. It just disturbs me that people can still feel this way.

marbear


message 22: by Mary (Marbear), Founder (new)

Mary (Marbear) (mbeth45) | 11708 comments Mod
When Miss Elizabeth told the baby that the colored bathroom had diseases in it and said it in front of Aibileen, I thought I was going to go into the book and slap her. Miss Hillary made Aibileen say thank you for her new bathroom. I thought what stupid women.

Marbear


message 23: by LemonLinda (new)

LemonLinda (lwilliamson42353) Yes, there was rampant prejudice throughout the nation really in the 60s, but it was a different time and place and people are what they have been taught to be. If you had been repeatedly taught that separate was indeed the only acceptable way then it may have been hard to break past that. Skeeter was different which was wonderful but was also very uncommon. That is why I think she is such a great character. And of course Hilly was simply a _itch, but the others in the book were not bad people.

I know people today in my parent's generation who are much like that are who are wonderful, giving, loving, caring individuals. But they are racist and there is no way around that. It is part of the core of their being. It is who they have always have been and it is not easy to effect significant change when that feeling is so deeply inbedded in a person's value system. They don't see things as we do because they lived in a very different world for all of their youth and much of their adult lives. I feel differently and I taught my children differently and that is where the real change starts and continues until there is no difference at all.

But you know the sad thing is there will always be prejudice. Today it is not so much targeted toward African Americans, but there certainly is a lot of it targeted toward Arab Americans and others.


message 24: by Angela Lynn (new)

Angela Lynn Holland (bookaunt) I think it depends on where you came from. Here is Nebraska it is not that bad, I just asked my mom about growing up here if they had seperate bathrooms and such, (mom was born in '52). She said she had "black" friends and they all went to the same school, shopped at the same places and lived in the same neighborhoods. I know my grandparents did not/do not treat them any different than anyone else. Now Scott's grandpa who is from Missouri was very prejudice and he passed it on to his sons.


message 25: by Jennifer (last edited Feb 07, 2010 09:23PM) (new)

Jennifer D (Booktrovert)
Kim wrote: "I thought that Stockett captured the Civil Rights movement from a unique perspective. ..."

Angela H. wrote: " Here are some discussions questions I used for my bookclub, I thought maybe you would enjoy answering them too."

Hi Kim!

I think that statement sums it up for me. I was so impressed by the perspective of this southern white woman and her ability to capture the voices of so many different characters. Her writing really allowed me to see and hear each person so clearly. Of course, not being there during those years, I can only suppose this to be a fair perspective of a certain segment during a certain time.

I also think it is important to remember that most of us weren't there during those years and can never really grasp how horrible and challenging life was for so many segregated by society and marginalized by most within it. To suck up your words & actions every day is unimaginable, especially knowing what the potential consequences are for those who were more forthright and true to themselves.

Hi Angela!
Thank you so much for these questions. They are helpful and provoke consideration. I will ponder them and post responses, should I feel something worth sharing comes up in my wee brain! LOL!

In regards to question #10, while not specific to a work place, I feel and hear negative sentiments towards different races more frequently than should ever happen (which is never! It should never happen.). I find it ludicrous in this time that someone would so freely and blatantly give forth with dated, harmful and prejudiced opinion. It truly disgusts me. I live in Canada and while we did not experience the segregation and slavery of the divided United States (at the time) there is a history of abuse and stereotyping of the native population. I find it heartbreaking that so much hate is based on so little and based on what, essentially, boils down to ignorance.

Re: Question #6 ~ all I can think of is: "Wouldn't you be?"

I read this book last summer and I am glad to see and contribute to a discussion about this novel.



message 26: by [deleted user] (new)

Nadia wrote: "T.C. - I hope there's a sequel, too! And they are making a movie out of the book. They are in pre-production, so that cast hasn't been selected yet ( that was what I last heard, who knows now). Wha..."

Wow, I didn't know about the film - that's great! Hate to admit that I've never seen Rachel Evan Wood in anything - is her hair problematic enough to be Skeeter? lol




message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

Angela H. wrote: " Here are some discussions questions I used for my bookclub, I thought maybe you would enjoy answering them too.

1. Who was your favorite character? Why?

2. What do you think motivated Hill..."


Good questions Angela!

Re #7, imo racism is taught - and I loved the parts about Mae Mobley! How sad that she was saddled with a cold racist mother. If there is a sequel, I hope Mae Mobley is in it somehow!




message 28: by [deleted user] (new)

MarBear wrote: "When Miss Elizabeth told the baby that the colored bathroom had diseases in it and said it in front of Aibileen, I thought I was going to go into the book and slap her. Miss Hillary made Aibileen s..."

Glad I'm not the only one who wanted to slap those women! lol

While Hilly was vicious and hateful, Elizabeth was so passively accepting of the norms that I wanted to shake her awake!




message 29: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 5 comments I would hope to think the color lines Aibileen talked about have faded away. But the key components of hierarchy, and suppression are still present today. I think maybe it’s just taken on a new demographic other then skin. I don’t know about you, but in the past I have worked with people who love to put others in their place. They want them to think that they have control of the situation at all times, and there is no way out. (or their lives will be altered) In present day I would question if superiority has moved past color, and added education, finances, title or just self righteousness to the list. This book had me rooting for all three women battling the shackles of life. I love the fact that Aibleen took extra time out of her day for Mae Mobley . I would love to see how Mae Mobley, and Ross turn out in the sequel. I love the bond that Minny was able to share with Cecilla. The both of them were able to have an awakening together. I was worried when Skeeter told Stuart what was really going on. Then also was worried how Skeeter would react if her family name was questioned in town for being the author of the book. I am so glad to know that all the main characters remained safe, even though we knew there was turmoil around.


message 30: by L (new)

L | 9 comments All things considered, I loved it when Hilly ate the chocolate pie! The whole mystery of the terrible awful thing, then the explanation of it, and then the innocent purchase of the pie at the gala cracked me up. Great plot development.


message 31: by Carmen (new)

Carmen (carmelitasita) Kathryn wrote: "I would hope to think the color lines Aibileen talked about have faded away. But the key components of hierarchy, and suppression are still present today. I think maybe it’s just taken on a new de..."

I don't think the purchase of the pie was all that innocent!


message 32: by Thalia (new)

Thalia Okay loved the book, just one thing bothering me...what was up with the "pecker pie" scene! I know it gave Celia a chance to shine but seriously!?


message 33: by Carmen (new)

Carmen (carmelitasita) Oops, replied to the wrong person. Sorry Kathryn, I meant to reply to L.


message 34: by [deleted user] (new)

I've read that a film is on the way, with Tate Taylor writing and directing - no release date yet. Hope the casting is great!


message 35: by Marie-vicky (new)

Marie-vicky (grimace) | 675 comments L wrote: "All things considered, I loved it when Hilly ate the chocolate pie! The whole mystery of the terrible awful thing, then the explanation of it, and then the innocent purchase of the pie at the gala ..."

That part is really funny to see how Hilly lost her temper.she got really nasty I still don


message 36: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly (kimberly_b) | 360 comments This book is among the best I have read recently; I loved it. I feel like the characters are real people, and, in a way, they were. It is a beautiful novel and I wasn't expecting it to be so funny in parts. Sockett's "Too Little, Too Late" at the end made me a little teary-eyed. I want my daughter to read this book when she grows up. Among many other things, it is a story about how to treat people.


message 37: by Kim (new)

Kim (MrsNesbitt) | 1082 comments To answer the Hill question of why she needs attention, I think that there are people who are just like that. We all know the "Queen Bee" of our church,neighborhood, etc. The one who HAS to be in charge or take the credit when it goes well, pass blame when it doesn't. We all know a drama queen or two. I think that is just what Hilly is supposed to represent.


message 38: by [deleted user] (new)

Kim wrote: "To answer the Hill question of why she needs attention, I think that there are people who are just like that. We all know the "Queen Bee" of our church,neighborhood, etc. The one who HAS to be in ..."

Agreed - she reminded me of the prom queen/head cheerleader/sorority president type. And her feelings of entitlement kept her from seeing her racism.




message 39: by Marie-vicky (new)

Marie-vicky (grimace) | 675 comments I finished the books and I finally loved it even if I struggled in some placewhere I could'nt figure it out what character will the author give more attention in the book.Now the story is about a community where they have to share a reality that differs between the two groups.The characters are so real that at one point Through a daily routine life I can see that is always hard to change perception.It take years and some courageous people who are not scare to speak up.

Hi Kim,a
I like your expression Queen Bee.Each town has some spicy one.


message 40: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (foreveryearning) | 113 comments I finished this morning and I really liked this book. I was pleasantly surprised that I liked it better than I thought I would. And I certainly didn't think that I was going to be crying! I loved Aibeleen and Mae Mobley! How Elizabeth could've ignored her child like that I don't think I'll ever understand because lil Mae Mobley was such a smart and adorable little girl that I would've loved to hug and shower with kisses every day! I was so sad when Aibeleen had to leave at the end. I haven't had a good cry while reading a book in a quite a while, but that scene broke my heart and I couldn't stop my chin quivering cry lol

I wanted to smack Hilly so much and I'm glad she ended up being tricked into eating that 'pie'. I cracked up when her mother put her down for the pie drawing at the benefit; that was hilarious. She might've been old, but she still got her wits! I wonder what made Hilly the witch that she was. It infuriated me that Elizabeth just followed her blindly.

I hope that Minny really went through with her plan of leaving Leroy because that part of her bothered me. So strong and talks her mind, but when it came to Leroy she cowers. It didn't match.

This was such a great read!


message 41: by Meghan (new)

Meghan 10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white? Have you heard stories of someone who put away their valuable jewelry before their nanny comes – so they trust this person to look after their child, but not their diamond rings?

My only thought on this is that it's not a racism issue, it's a class issue. As someone who knows many people here (in Beijing) with hired help, this is something that is prevalent amongst those who have (the "well-to-do") and those who have not (the help). I have a friend who worked as a nanny in Boston and the stories she can share (and she's caucasian). So there maybe prejudices of color mixed in for some people, but overall, it's more the view that the help are always looking to steal from you.

And the few people (help) who DO steal, only further the stereotype and distrust. I felt bad for Yule May. She didn't deserve the punishment she received. But she DID steal (and from Hilly of ALL people). And no matter how to you put it (it wasn't that expensive, Hilly owed her the money, etc.), the law says stealing is wrong. And everyone should be required to follow that law.


message 42: by Meghan (new)

Meghan I have a question. Do you think that older people (in the 70's and 80's feel different about people of a different color? My grandmother died at 72 but she felt very differently about people who are not white. I work in a pharmacy with a pharmacist from India. The older customer are so rude to him just because he's not white. In fact we also have a great guy who is black. An olderly woman come in the other day and called him "the colored boy." The pharmacist from India went crazy and made her so she was sorry. Why do you think older people in the US feel differently about people who aren't white?

I think whether people experience the racism depends on who you ask. Is it shown or expressed in the same manner as in the 1960s--hopefully not. And for the most part, where I grew up (Michigan), there was ALWAYS an undercurrent but nothing out in the open about it to the point where I wouldn't know about it unless a friend (of a different race) told me about it.

But yes, racism exists, and I argue, as badly as the 60s (and not just with the older generations). In a different club, a friend just shared that her high school prom (and she's only in her 30s) was segregated (she grew up in Mississippi). AND only a couple of years ago, Morgan Freeman offered a school (in Mississippi) that he would pay for their entire prom if they were willing to have an integrated one. Segregation of this magnitude in the 2000s is STILL occurring?! It blew me away. And yet that was how it always was. The school itself was integrated. The kids ate lunch together and had class together and played sports together. They just didn't dance together. And my friend said when she was growing up, the thought that this was odd never occurred to her. (Apparently there was some documentary done about the Morgan Freeman incident.)

I was lucky growing up that I never experienced personally (or if there was some, unaware of it) racism of any sort, even the subtle kind. But since marrying my Chinese huband, I've gone to an American who happens to be Asian to being an "Asian Couple". And apparently America is frightfully prejudiced against Asian couples because I have experience more open and hostile racism simply because of the color of my skin and the shape of my eyes. I don't even open my mouth to speak before someone makes a judgment of what I'm worth and thus how I should be treated. And this is not against strictly caucasians--I've been treated this way by many Americans of different races. And it's mainly because they deal with foreigners who don't speak the language and they are tired and frustrated by it and so they develop an attitude. It's striking that the moment I DO open my mouth and perfect English flows from it, how quickly the attitude adjusts and how almost pleasant some of them can be.

And this works both ways. Because my experience has been that people are hostile to me when I'm with my hsuband, I've developed an attitude towards "them". It happens without even thinking. And so I think this goes to the question about whether or not Minny was justified in her distrust of white people. The answer is no she was not justified, but it's understandable why she was. This is what you experience over and over, you can't help but start lumping everyone into that pile and developing certain attitudes about it. In order to stop the hurt of being judged this way, you build that wall.

These kind of prejudices are easy to come by and take a conscious effort by that person to remember that a bad attitude may have nothing to do with the color of your skin or your gender or whathaveyou. That person could just be having a bad day. Or their mother could be sick. Or they just broke up with their girlfriend. It's hard, but until everyone starts trying to see the world a little more kindly, racism/bigotry/prejudices will always exist because it's too easy to perpetuate.


message 43: by Kim (new)

Kim (MrsNesbitt) | 1082 comments As far as wanting to smack Hilly, I find that I want to smack a lot of characters when I read historical fiction. I guess it is my modern sensibilities.


message 44: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca (RebeccaL) | 3 comments I'm a newbie to this group, but coincidentally just finished The Help a few days ago. Everyone has really good comments, especially regarding Hilly. I like the dissonance of 2 Hillys - the one who is a nasty person and the one who is tender and caring with her children. I think it also contrasts with Elizabeth, who is less repulsive than Hilly, but can barely stand the sight of her own children. Maybe Stockett wanted to remind us that even the "bad guys" aren't always bad...


message 45: by [deleted user] (last edited Feb 12, 2010 08:54AM) (new)

Rebecca wrote: "I'm a newbie to this group, but coincidentally just finished The Help a few days ago. Everyone has really good comments, especially regarding Hilly. I like the dissonance of 2 Hillys - the one wh..."

Good observation! The contrast between Hilly and Elizabeth is very interesting - I must admit that I wanted to slap both of them, for different reasons. :)


message 46: by LemonLinda (last edited Feb 12, 2010 09:11AM) (new)

LemonLinda (lwilliamson42353) That was the thing I most disliked about Elizabeth - that she was so cold toward her children. I think she was basically insecure and wanted so such to fit in and be part of the Junior League's upper echelons. She would naturally think that following the lead made by Hilly, Junior League president, would pave the way for her to do that. So I understand where she was coming from in that even if I don't agree with it.

But, not wanting to love and care for her own children - I simply could not understand that.


message 47: by Angela (new)

Angela Williamson (hunterbookworm) | 9 comments I work for a book store and picked this book up last summer when everyone that came in began talking about it. I loved it and have recommended it to everyone I can. I love the writing style and the way you are just drawn into the story.


message 48: by Coco (new)

Coco (Coco_) | 46 comments A question came up when my real life book group discussed this book. With regard to the infamous pie--did Minnie make it using the real thing, or just tell Hilly that she did?


message 49: by Kathryn (new)

Kathryn | 5 comments Coco wrote: "A question came up when my real life book group discussed this book. With regard to the infamous pie--did Minnie make it using the real thing, or just tell Hilly that she did? "

I think it's the real thing. Minnie doesn't seem a person to be all talk and no bite. She seems to have quite a conviction about standing up for herself. (except for at home) Yet think a lot of people act differently between there professional and personal life. I think that some people are willing to take a lot more s#%t from those that they are closest too, rather then those they work for.


message 50: by [deleted user] (new)

I wondered about Minnie using the "real thing" too - seems like the help would have gotten into some pretty serious trouble doing that, especially with so much worry about disease.


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