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Archive 08-19 GR Discussions > The Help * Spoilers *

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message 1: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod


So.... The Help. Let's start with the basics.

Did you like the book?
What character did you like the best and was it the same character that you related to the best?



message 2: by Bloomin’Chick (Jo) aka The Eclectic Spoonie (last edited Sep 01, 2009 10:46AM) (new)

Bloomin’Chick (Jo) aka The Eclectic Spoonie (bloominchick) I haven't finished it yet (not worried about spoilers) but I am loving this book so far. I'm a big fan of 'southern lit' and this is right up my alley. She has a descriptive writing style without over-writing (if that makes any sense) and I love the dialogue. My jury's still out on which character I like best as of yet.


message 3: by Lisa (new)

Lisa Totally makes sense, Jo. That's exactly how I would describe the writing style.


message 5: by Holli (new)

Holli I just started this book today and I'm already mad at it and in love with it at the same time. Looking forward to the discussion. I hope to participate as I read which should be fun!


message 6: by Rose (last edited Sep 01, 2009 12:34PM) (new)

Rose (roseo) I really liked the book!

My favorite character was Aibilene. She was so loving and understanding, even to Minny's harsh personality. But, I loved her the best the way she loved and cared for little Mae Mobley. My favorite were her "secret" stories, like the one about the "Martian" Luther the King and the lessons with the same candy in a white paper wrapper and a brown paper wrapper.





message 7: by Elena (last edited Sep 01, 2009 12:56PM) (new)

Elena | 129 comments My favorite character was Minny. She made me laugh so many times!

Who do I relate to? I was thinking and I have to say that I relate in some way to all the characters. I think I have a little of each one's personality and live experiences Maybe that is why this is now one of my favorite books. Interesting....

My favorite scene was when they handled Aibilen the book at the church with all the people's signature. I found that act very emotional.


message 8: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments I loved Aibiline also. She just seemed to have a spirit of kindness. She saw past the hard things in people to the soft centers.


message 9: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
somebody jog my mind. What was the little gal's name who Minny ended up working for? Ms Celia? Gah my mind is mush. But I really loved that character. I know she wasn't one of the main three but I was really intrigued by her story and desperatly want to know more. If she did a squeal or prequeal I would love to have more of a background on this charcter. I think she has so much more of a story that can be told.


message 10: by Elena (new)

Elena | 129 comments Yes, that was her, Ms Celia. My favorite parts where the ones with Minny and her.


message 11: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments Ahhh Miss Celia was my second favorite. Once again I go for the ones with the big hearts. She just seemed to want nothing but to make her husband happy. The loyalty she showed Minny what a likeable char


message 12: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 92 comments I really enjoyed this book. One of the things that I liked was the complexity of the characters and their relationship to one another. Most books with a lot of characters leave me feeling as if there were too many to really get to know. This book was the exact opposite. I feel like I got to know the characters, even the minor ones, so well.

Many characters your read about don't really have the level of complexity that the characters in this book do. I felt the author did a great job showing us the messy reality of their lives. The characters were developed in layers and some of those layers conflicted, just as they often do in real life.


message 13: by Mary (new)

Mary (madamefifi) | 202 comments I was sceptical when I bought this book because, as a Southerner, I am mighty sick of cutesy, flat novels that caricaturize Southern men and women. Examples I can think of are some of the works of Lee Smith and Rebecca Wells. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find that the ladies in The Help were multi-faceted and not stereotyped at all. My favorite was Abilene, also.


message 14: by Marsha (last edited Sep 01, 2009 08:28PM) (new)

Marsha (earthmarsha) | 1586 comments Thank you for sharing that, Mary. I wondered how authentic this book was and I'm glad to hear that you think the characters are well developed. I know that I loved the book and was sorry when I finished it.

I don't think I can pick a favorite character. I enjoyed Aibilene's, Skeeter's and Minnie's chapters very much, but I think I was most intrigued by Celia. I agree with Tera. I was left wishing I knew more about her.


message 15: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
How about one of the central themes of the book. Racisim. How did the author do covering racisim? Do you think a white author can accurately take the view point of a black character in the south in the 60s? Stockett seems to suggest that racisim is taught vs inherient. Do you think Mae will grow up to become racisit with Aiblilene gone from her life? How did Skeeter become so different in her views than those she grew up with including her mother? How far (or not) do you think we have come today from 1962?


message 16: by Karla (new)

Karla (bookarita) | 85 comments I think this was a stunner of a first novel! It had so many redeming qualities. It has to be a true challege to take on racial writting and make it true and pure.
I really loved Aibileen, I hope I am lucky enough in my life to meet such a loving,sincere, big hearted christian woman.
I have to agree with Elena there is a little of every character in us all, so it is difficult to pick a favorite and actually without them it wouldn't be the novel it turned out to be. I loved Minny's strong opionated voice and her lashing outs were so funny.
I loved reading Skeeter growing into a woman she was proud to be, I do wish she could show some redeaming quality for Hilly since she still grew up with her and conciders her to have been her best friend. I guess it just took her too long to really see the real ugly behind Hilly. My favorite quote has got to be:
The day your child say she hates you,and every child will go through the phase,it kicks like a foot in the stomach.
But Kindra, Lord. It's not just a phase I'm seeing. That girl is turning out just like me.
One of many I loved.


Shelby *trains flying monkeys* I loved Minnie. She just told it like it was and heck with the consequences. The thing she did with the pie probably could have gotten her killed! In that time period it was done for less. Bold, strong woman.
I so loved this book.
I think the author did a really good job portraying the black ladies. She made them strong and intelligent and also told how they knew how bad whites could treat them if they said or did anything to stand up for themselves. I remember one part where Abby is thinking about how white women were the worst if they got it in for you. I can't remember how she described it exactly but I knew exactly what she was talking about.




message 18: by Peanut (new)

Peanut | 149 comments Wasn't a fan of the book but I did finish it and did enjoy several parts. I guess I wasn't a fan of Skeeter. She didn't come across as real for me.

I enjoyed all parts with Minny, Hilly and Celia though. I wish more of the book was about them.


message 19: by Rose (new)

Rose (roseo) I believe it was mainly a "women’s" story.
To me the racial issues were there to set the tone and tension for the plot to evolve around the women.
.
As far as taking the black characters point of view, I didn’t have a problem with it. Many male authors have written about female characters and vice versa.

Yes, I believe racism is taught. Aibilene raised and nurtured Mae Mobley specifically to understand that it didn’t matter and I think she will grow up just as Skeeter did from that love and guidance of a black woman.

Tee-hee, I’m not even touching that last question Tera! :) It could start “quite” a debate.
All I will say is that we have an African American president which is amazing! But unfortunately in my experience people are still very suspicious and uncertain of those who “appear” different.



message 20: by Elena (new)

Elena | 129 comments The issue was also about social class besides racism. I got the feeling some of the women cared about their help and loved them, and the reason they were treated differently was because they were a lower class,"The Help", and not for the color of their skin.


message 21: by Rose (new)

Rose (roseo) Yes, yes Elena like Miss Celia not being accepted into their "group".


message 22: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
so would you say there is a bigger problem with classism? fear of societal norms that stop us from our instinct or is our instint to push away anything we consider beneath us in hopes that it isn't catching.


message 23: by Holli (new)

Holli I think I'm going to have to join in once I'm done reading the book... I want to be surprised but I do have so many thoughts already about this one... I'll rad quick so I can get back here!


message 24: by Jennifer W (new)

Jennifer W | 2175 comments I liked and related well to Skeeter. I remember coming back home from college and having different thoughts and oppinions than when I left, and finding my hometown a little too small for me.
One of the things I didn't like was that I felt Stockett stayed a little too far away from some of the racism. Evars was killed just down the road from Minny and Aibilene's houses, that must have been absolutely terrifying, and it felt like a blip in the radar. I felt this book could have been set in present day about "The Help." I guess they don't have to fear death anymore, but if you look at your employer crosseyed, even now, you have to worry about losing your job and the rumor mill, etc.
I think Mae will be fine. By the time she would be the age her mom, Skeeter, and Hilly are during the book, it'll be the 80s.


message 25: by Marsha (new)

Marsha (earthmarsha) | 1586 comments I think poor Mae Mobley will have another set of problems, considering her mother can barely stand to be around her.


message 26: by Sharon (new)

Sharon (sharon2020) Aibilene is my favorite character. She's caring, loving, wise, doesn't accept the status quo of the times. She brings solid character to all who come in contact with her. I could relate to Celia though as I too in life have wanted to please and be a part of a very choosy group but was not let in. I sure know how that feels.

And still after all this time it goes on with people PEOPLE, HUMAN BEINGS being labelled as black and white trash, spics and all the rest.

I just finished the book and I am just reminded of so much injustice in so many areas really. I was not raised to ever call anyone a name or believe that I was better than one single person in this universe. I remember all that went on very well as I was at an impressionable age (born in 1956). I remember seeing it all on tv and my confusion but also a basic understanding of what many people deep down are made of. Later I read about it and it stuck with me to this day. I always try to see both sides but when injustices are done for no good reason it is just something that runs deeply through my soul - pollyanna that I am.

And harumph the Junior League philanthropic my butt that group didn't give a flip about the starvng in Africa either. Irony at it's best to treat African Americans in that way and not help them a bit and then turn around to help the plight of Africans.

You know Skeeter had it right when she wanted the book to have a sociological name to it. This book (though I love the title) really is a treatise on social injustice. A study really. It's almost as if she is documenting through letters/documents she read how it really felt to be a servant and in Celia's case study too to be one of the "lesser beings". Her book is Skeeters book without the threat of repurcussion of course.



message 27: by Usako (new)

Usako (bbmeltdown) | 654 comments What happened to these three strong women isn't unbelievable. My eyes didn't widen. I wasn't shocked. However, I had a merry time laughing about the pie story. Oh dear. Minny has balls.

The "social clique" of women running a club and shunning those who do not follow their status quo carries on. Take a look at modern stories-shows. For example, Gossip Girl, Devil Wears Prada, any HS atmosphere. If you want to remain within the group, you'll shun who they shun.


message 28: by Lydia (new)

Lydia (loverofinformation) I am experiencing a bit of shock. I went to request this book from the library and was told I would be 255th on the list!!! And they only have like 15 copies!


message 29: by Karla (new)

Karla (bookarita) | 85 comments O my! I did see it in paperback at Wal-Mart Sunday for a much better price than what I paid for it! I got it for 25.99 I did have a 20 percent coupon luckily but still! The library list sounds way to long for my impatient self.


message 30: by Lisa (new)

Lisa We still have a group here that pats itself on the back annually for all of the good deeds they do, with a big ball, a king and queen, pages, princesses, designer gowns. They have huge write ups in the paper. Reminds me so much of the League!


message 31: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) I'm loving this book - I'm not finished yet but I'm nearly there and cannot put it down! - I'll be almost ready to discuss it in a day or so - but in the meantime

- what are grits?

...so far, one of my favourite bits has been when Aibileen was explaining to Minny about 'the lines' that don't really exist and the kidnesses that can cross those perceived boundaries...

Ally


message 32: by Rose (new)

Rose (roseo) Grits: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grits

Ally, you can use wikipedia.org to look up many "americanisms" and other wonderful things! :)



message 33: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
my husband (born in AL) will crave grits on occasion. I still have never tried them. Having grown up in ID for the most part I don't think I even learned about them until college? Other than Flo from Alice who always said "Kiss my Grits".


message 34: by Rose (new)

Rose (roseo) Sharon said: "And harumph the Junior League philanthropic my butt that group didn't give a flip about the starvng in Africa either. Irony at it's best to treat African Americans in that way and not help them a bit and then turn around to help the plight of Africans."

That was the ultimate sarcasm! Too funny because it went right over their heads!



message 35: by Aylin (last edited Sep 04, 2009 06:00AM) (new)

Aylin | 24 comments I loved how the author developed the characters in layers starting simply and adding complexity. What you saw on the surface was not necessarily the way things really were. Aibileen knew this about people and was able to see beyond the surface (ie she knew how Minny acted on the outside and what was really going on with her on a deeper level.)

Over time, readers got to know the characters the way Aibeleen knew people- beyond preconceived notions and first impressions.

Even Minny was guilty of making judgments and treating people unfairly based upon misinformation. She was determined not to like Celia and it got worse when she thought Celia was drinking-- but later learned the truth. Her heart warmed towards Celia after that and they were able to develop a relationship.

For Skeeter- once she got below the surface of people she thought she knew, she was forced to acknowledge some pretty ugly things about her "friends"- acknowledging the truth was a very painful process for her.

I think this character development tied into the books theme on racism/classism- let go of preconceived notions and quick judgments to really get to know people as individuals. Things aren't always as they may appear.


message 36: by Brenda (new)

Brenda (brenlouhen) I agree with a lot of what has been written. One thing that hasn't been mentioned: that Skeeter didn't marry that guy. I was so glad that there wasn't a fairy tale ending... it showed reality.
Aibeleen was my favorite character.


message 37: by Lindalee (new)

Lindalee Stahlman (lindalees) | 9 comments Hi. I just joined and it was because i saw you are discussing The Help. A yahoo group, bookiestoo is also discussing this. My answer to the question on favorite character was this: It's hard for me to pick a favorite character. I not only liked all the main characters (I hadn't liked the fact Minnie was staying with her abusive husband, but she redemmed herself in the end), but I thought many of the minor characters were likable-Johnny for his devotion to cecelia, Lou Ann for the help she gave Lovenia (I had to turn the book in so I could ask for another interlibrary loan-hope I am spelling and remembering the names ok) her maid when her grandson got blinded.



message 38: by Lindalee (new)

Lindalee Stahlman (lindalees) | 9 comments On the racism issue and why Skeeter was so different: I believe one of the main reasons was because Skeeter was different-too tall, didn't consider herself pretty, intellegent (a lot of her friends didn't finish college-they got married), didn't date, etc.... My family is very racist. But I turned out different and I believe the main reason is I had a speech defect. I was teased about the way I talked-something I couldn't help. So I knew what it was like to be treated badly because of some aspect of yourself. I knew that African-Americans couldn't help their skin color any more then I could help the fact I was 2 1/2 months premature(which was why I had a speech defect). In fact I felt bad that speech therapy could help me and change the way people treated me but I couldn't change my family's views on African Americans.


message 39: by Tera, First Chick (new)

Tera | 2563 comments Mod
Ready to talk about another theme of the book?
Let's discuss feminism which I think was another central theme of the book.
First what do you think feminism means? And who were the true feminist in this book?
I think Skeeter battled this idea more than she truly battled racism. She was so desperate to find a man, even one that just wasn't right that she fought within herself when it came to him. She struggled with it again with her family and friends and her desire for work when really she had no need to 'do' anything if she would just settle down with a man.
Then there's Minny. She was the bread winner of her home. She was the strength. Yet she tolerated an abusive relationship at the hands of her husband.
Celia was at first your stereotypical dumb blonde but when push came to shove she got into the fight with the stranger from the woods. You got wind of a past that she overcame of poverty and fighting off men. Yet she was so afraid to let her husband know she couldn't cook, or couldn't have a baby.
Hilly was certainly viewed by the society as the ideal woman but her strength came from oppression. Her power came, I think, because of her fear of falling.
Women are the central characters of this book. Most of them experience some sort of change and more fully come into their own.
How do the views of women in 1962 play into that? The civil rights movement also included women's rights, something that is often missed in those discussions about civil rights.


message 40: by Tiffany (new)

Tiffany | 92 comments For me, this book took a different approach to racism. In most books, the characters are either racist or they are not. Racism is often presented as a simple dichotomy without acknowledging that there are shades of racism that can appear in different contexts.

The Help really shows the different forms racism can take, from the very overt to the completely subtle. Many of the characters had the same type of conflicting beliefs that we may encounter in real life. For example, Skeeter builds a relationship with the group of women and learns about their lives while at the same time lamenting her lack of friends due to the book. While I feel she has an affection for the women, and she builds a great deal of understanding, she does not (and because of the society she lives in, cannot) really label them friends. Part of what makes this book great is that you get a chance to learn about the complex attitudes of so many characters.


message 41: by Ally (last edited Sep 05, 2009 10:28AM) (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) There are so many things that touched me about this book...

* Celia and Johnny's relationship was wonderful to read - I'm so disappointed that the only white couple who were genuinely and wholeheartedly likable and where true love really exists can't perpetuate that love with a child of their own.
* Lou Anne Templeton and her revelation that Louvenia is her rock throughout her battle with mental illness to the degree that she's sometimes the only reason Lou Anne gets out of bed in the morings!
* Aibileen's stories about 'Martian Luther King' and the wrapped up candy feeding into the much needed confidence boosts that Mae Mobely needs.
* Skeeter's strength to carry on when she has lost all of her friends and her potential husband because she believes wholeheartedly in her cause.
* Minny's extremely funny 'sass-mouthing' cast against her own hardships with a husband that beats her.
* Skeeter's mother's regrets at the loss of Constantine.
* The scene in Aibileen's house when all the maids decide to help with Skeeter's book project as a way of fighting back against the injustices of Yule May going to prison.

I could just go on and on...

Overall I was fascinated by the complexities of the relationships between the ladies and their 'help' - I hadn't before realised just how complex they might be.

Thank you so much to whoever suggested reading this book - I don't think i'd have picked this up otherwise and I would have missed out on so much.

My only criticism is that I was a little disappointed at the lack of depth of historical information about the effects of the violence in Mississippi during the civil rights movement.

Ally




message 42: by Rose (last edited Sep 06, 2009 04:13PM) (new)

Rose (roseo) Hmmm. I didn't really see a feminist attitude in this book. *puzzled* :)

In my opinion, Skeeter just wanted to be a writer. In fact, wasn't it the NY publisher (I can't remember her name) who pushed and prompted her to do more than she originally wanted to do?



I need to quote Teri from the other thread on discussion questions because I think she brought up a BRILLIANT point:

Teri said, " In I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou wrote, "The fact that the adult American Negro female emerges a formidable character is often met with amazement, distaste and even belligerence. It is seldom accepted as an inevitable outcome of the struggle won by survivors, and deserves respect if not enthusiastic acceptance."

This is really how I thought about the strength of the maids, not really in any intentional feminist way. They were tough women because they endured a tough life.





message 43: by Aylin (last edited Sep 06, 2009 05:25PM) (new)

Aylin | 24 comments Good point Rose- Celia also had a prior life that was very tough. She didn't appear tough at all but it was sure there when when she needed it. She really surprised Minny. Celia was tough and brave.


message 44: by Roberta (new)

Roberta (wwwgoodreadscomrooonuma) | 59 comments Did you like the book?

I absolutely loved this book. Whoever picked this book to put up on the polls was a genius!

What character did you like the best and was it the same character that you related to the best?

I think my favorite character is Aibileen, but I think I relate to Skeeter (I like to stir pots add my own ingredients *smile*).

How about one of the central themes of the book. Racisim. How did the author do covering racisim?

I think that the depiction of racism by the author was very accurate.

Do you think a white author can accurately take the view point of a black character in the south in the 60s?

I think that someone could write about anything and show the plight that people face in that topic, but I do not know if the person can actually feel the pain (of racism) as the people that went through it (in other words, I could write a best seller on how to raise your child, but I would still lack something, because I do not have children at the time being....you can sympathize, you can even have your own form of racism, but you may not actually feel it, because you are not "in their shoes"...another example, Jews and the Nazi concentration camps, I am sad that it happened, I wish I could change it, I can cry all I want, raise funds for survivors, but I still would never know what it feels like to be in a concentration camp).

Stockett seems to suggest that racisim is taught vs inherient. Do you think Mae will grow up to become racisit with Aiblilene gone from her life?

No, I think we are continuous learners; however, the base of our morals are formed at a very young age, probably 5 or younger. That being said, I think that Mae Mobely will not be a racist/prejudice, and that she will bestow her knowledge to others, like Lil' Man, her brother.

How did Skeeter become so different in her views than those she grew up with including her mother?

Constantine, her formal education, the freedom that she had (her other friends were married with kids), and her ability to talk/identify with others.

How far (or not) do you think we have come today from 1962?

I think we have gone 1/2 a mile in a mile race...I think we have come a long way from "whites or colored only" water fountains or bathrooms; however, we need to improve. There is still "undercover racism" which maybe just as toxic and deadly as the "in your face racism".

First what do you think feminism means? And who were the true feminist in this book?

I think that feminism refers to a woman and her traits; however, also the thought of equality. The feminist are: Skeeter, Minny (post-Leroy), Aibileen, and hate to say it Hilly.

How do the views of women in 1962 play into that?
I think women were one of the main parts of support for the civil rights movement...civil right was not just a skin tone.


message 45: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Lydia wrote: "I am experiencing a bit of shock. I went to request this book from the library and was told I would be 255th on the list!!! And they only have like 15 copies!"

That is lucky Lydia our library has 1 copy.


message 46: by Roberta (new)

Roberta (wwwgoodreadscomrooonuma) | 59 comments Rebecca: I think you'd be able to rent it from bookswim.


Bloomin’Chick (Jo) aka The Eclectic Spoonie (bloominchick) Skeeter is my favorite. I relate to her insecurities, trying to find her place when she's different than those around her, wanting more than anything to be a writer and trying to do what she can to make that happen, having a stressful relationship with her mother...


message 48: by Holli (new)

Holli Did you like the book?
What character did you like the best and was it the same character that you related to the best?


I absolutely loved the book and can't believe how well she did as a first time author. I'm very much looking forward to her next book.

I really think that I liked Aibileen the best and I related to her warmth and understanding of others and her willingness to help in whatever way she knew how. I also liked and related to Minny for her outspokenness and her sass. I love my sass! ;)


message 49: by Holli (last edited Sep 09, 2009 08:22PM) (new)

Holli How about one of the central themes of the book. Racisim. How did the author do covering racisim? Do you think a white author can accurately take the view point of a black character in the south in the 60s? Stockett seems to suggest that racisim is taught vs inherient. Do you think Mae will grow up to become racisit with Aiblilene gone from her life? How did Skeeter become so different in her views than those she grew up with including her mother? How far (or not) do you think we have come today from 1962?


I thought she covered racisim well for the number one reason that I was angry through most of the book having to read about it. Racisim incenses me and I had a hard time reading about that time period and what they all had to deal with on a daily basis back then. How ugly people can be. I just hate it. So yeah, she did a great job otherwise I wouldn't have felt that way while reading it.

I sat here by myself reading most of this book out loud (mainly to the cat lol) because i felt the dialogue was so good that it demanded it. Wonderful dialogue and when I was reading it I could picture a white southern uppity woman or a Southern black woman very accurately.... the dialogue was spot on I think.

I also believe racisim is taught rather than inherited and I think that Aibileen did such a good job instilling a good value and belief system in Mae Mobley that she'll be just fine.

Skeeter's daddy seemed like a fair and just man and i would think she got some of her viewpoints from him. Her mom didn't seem as extreme as other women in her prejudice so maybe between the two Skeeter learned what was the right way to treat all people. Sometimes people stop following the crowd and start listening to their heart and decide to follow it no matter the consequences. I think that's what she did. she looked beyond their bodies into their souls and found them to be just like her. What a great lady I think!

in some ways I think we have come a long way from those times in the 60's but in other ways I don't think we have. Seems like prejudice is still out there but maybe not AS prevalent or violent as it was back then. But its still out there.


message 50: by Renee (new)

Renee (elenarenee) | 275 comments LOL glad to hear I am not the only one to read to my cat


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