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"The Help" book discussion

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message 1: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I know I'm coming in late but I can't believe no one wants to talk about this book. All I've wanted to do is talk about it since I read it!!!!! I can't decide if my favorite is Aibilene or Skeeter. They were both incredibly brave. Aibilene had so much more to lose so I guess she was braver but Skeeter had to change more and really decide how she felt about everything around her. Aibilene tried so hard to do what was "right", also-such an example of unselfishness!

message 2: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I need to add that when I say Skeeter had to change, I don't mean her personality- just the outward expression of how she had always felt, I guess.

message 3: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Sullivan | 21 comments Kimberly, I'm so glad you replied! I felt the same way about "The Help". It was one of those rare books that when you finished it felt like other books would be forever measured by it. The changes for each character were at first subtle, and then as the book continued to move forward, became more external. I found it interesting that the outward appearance of everyone in the book affected their lives. Whether they were African-American, skinny, wore to much make-up or were "perfect" it brought about change within themselves when the people around them saw inside intead of outside.

message 4: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I have been recommending this book to everyone. I find that although most people claim to not be prejudiced, if you talk about something like this book, subtle prejudices come out in conversation. So I think that although the "civil rights movement" isn't as visible as it used to be, there are still many changes that need to be made in attitudes. So felt the book was timely even though it is 2010. I think along with what you are saying Maggie, that it doesn't matter what someone looks like, it's how they act and what they do that determines who they are. We all have been taught that but we don't always adhere to it.
I wish I had the courage of the great women in this story. Did anyone read the author's comments at the end about how the book came about for her?

message 5: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Sullivan | 21 comments If I did, I don't remember right off hand what the author had written. What was her motivation?

message 6: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments She grew up in the South and although the book was not really autobiographical, she had some similar experiences to Skeeter with black hired help. I love how she wanted it to be a "woman's relationships" book and not just black/white, too.

message 7: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I just finished reading this book. I loved it am excited that I have someone to talk about it with.
I would say my favorite character is Aibileen (well at least for today could change tomorrow!)
I read her comments at the end of the book, I love the women relationships!
I could personally relate to every women in the book. I was a nanny in the south with all the other African American maids.

message 8: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I appreciate Brandi's comment about relating to the characters-I've never been a servant, but the author did such a good job of drawing me into the characters, it seemed there was something in each of them that I could relate to or at least was sympathetic to.
Am I correct that there is a movie coming out?

message 9: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Sullivan | 21 comments The movie's trailer is out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_ajv_... It is supposed to be released on August 12, 1011.

message 10: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I have a question... where in the story or what part of the book had the most impact on your life?

message 11: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I think that it was really the overall story that made me
think about how I view others and how I treat them. Also, I thought I should have more courage about things that I say are important to me but don't always act as though they are. I was very overcome reading the incident about the crazy naked guy in the yard. I just kept thinking - this woman is in danger everywhere she goes- and how amazing that she would defend her employer so bravely. She was so strong in so many ways!!!

message 12: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I agree. I think the book as a whole made me think and had impact on my life. I tired to understand each character and wonder why they choose the path they did. I really hoped for change in some characters, even if it will be later in their life. I have hope the the next generation will not continue on the path or views of their parents, but come to be able to step back and see the truth. Besides the issue of skin color, there is a right and wrong theme and the courage of doing what is right.
Kimberly, I love when Minnie defended her against the naked man. They defended each other, beautiful hidden friendship even if neither would ever admit it.

message 13: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I have decided to post a question I found online....

To what extent do you think a person's flaws, such as racist attitudes and behaviors, can be forgiven because it is the norm in the surrounding culture?

http://bestsellers.about.com/od/bookc... is where I found it!

message 14: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I think that is a really valid question. If someone is taught hate whether it's Catholics/Protestants in N. Ireland, blacks/whites in the US, Shias/Sunnis in Iraq...what else will they know? I would say, we can forgive their attitudes but try to teach them and others in our sphere of influence, especially our families, a more peaceful and accepting way. Do you agree? What is harder to "forgive" is violent behavior against anyone for any reason. It cannot be tolerated.

message 15: by Paula (new)

Paula Opps | 2 comments I am late getting into the discussion, but I have thought a lot about the question that Brandi posted. I think of my grandparents generation. For example, they lived through WWII, and they still make inappropriate comments related toward the Japanese people. I think that it was ingrained in them to think the way they do. Yet, I also believe that they would change if they were exposed to actual individuals. I think that it is easy for all of us to have prejudice against a group or organization if we have no contact with them, but if we know a person and know their actions and deeds, then it is harder to keep prejudices against them. Did I articulate that thought very well? Probably not! I loved this book. I laughed and cried. I loved Skeeter, and I am glad that she had the strength to overcome her preconceived notions and create change in her world. If only all of us could be that strong!

message 16: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Sullivan | 21 comments I just finished writing a research paper about the Heart Mountain Relocation Camp this past semester. I was stunned to hear comments from people around town such as, "Oh it wasn't that bad for those people, they were safer there than their own homes." While, yes, I suppose the Japanese were safer in a prison camp, it was a PRISON CAMP! They were given very stark housing with minimal comforts. Once I pointed out some of the facts of their situation the people I spoke to always changed their minds. The power of the spoken and written word are powerful. The power of education, however, is limitless!

message 17: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I think all things can be forgiven. I mean God tells us to forgive. However, I feel that at times it is hard to help people to understand the wrongs of their attitudes and behavior because of how they were taught by their parents and culture surrounding them. Today, we face many barriers just like this. A few examples, Muslims or homosexuals.... there are many people who refuse to see the hurt they can cause because of another's beliefs or lifestyle. I don't know if people will ever truely understand how the shifts are made from one group to the next depending on what the world around us is doing. I believe that people can change, no matter how wrong they were at the time, and they can be forgiven.
I just hope that people are willing to "hear" not just listen when topics like this are brought to their attention by others. Then I ponder from time to time.... can you really forgive the unforgivable, inexcusable, and unjustifiable? or does one justify their behavior because of the times, forget and move on?

message 18: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments time for another question from on-line.... :-)

Could you sympathize with Miss Hilly? Do you think it is possible to be a good mother despite deep character flaws?

message 19: by Judy (new)

Judy | 17 comments I read The Help after my aunt recommended it to me when her book club finished it. The culture of this book is amazing. Miss Hilly is the typical queen bee -- she was probably the grade school bully, ran the college sorority and now has some kind of power over all the other little women. It was hilarious, but sad, when she went to tattle to Skeeter's mother. The men, meanwhile, may have their own world but in the world of these women they know only what they're told: When Skeeter asks her father about Constantine, he says only that she quit and Skeeter says, "He is too honest a man to hide things so I know he doesn't have any more facts about it than I do." I would have a hard time choosing my favorite among the three main characters. They each had to find and use their own strength when they needed it most, and all three strike out on their own after they really find each other.

message 20: by Tomi (new)

Tomi Baker | 7 comments I'm a newcomber to this discussion. I enjoyed the book, it made me think about stereotypes: black/white; male/female. But I think my favorite character is Johnny Foote. He dated Hilly and would probably have married her (pressure to do the "right" thing. Then dates a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, not because she's PG, but because he loves her. He takes her to the ball, knowing she's not dressed "right" and doesn't care because she's beautiful. When one of the men makes a comment, he says, wait a minute, you're talking about my wife. He knew that a maid was hired, but didn't care. The food was wonderful. When Johnny found out his wife couldn't carry a child, he still loved her. And then told Minnie, you'll always have a job with us. I like main characters, but the minor ones are fantastic. I enjoyed the book because it didn't try to rewrite history. Not sure I can explain that sentence. Anyway, great book and recommending it to others.

message 21: by Brandie (last edited Jun 23, 2011 07:33PM) (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments Although Hilly is a witch, she is more of a mother to her kids than Elizabeth is and I would rather be around more moms like Hilly who, even though they may not full out raise their children and they do teach them racist attitudes, they at least try to be a mom and do things with their kids like swimming for example, than ones like Elizabeth who can't believe they have the child they have due to that child being different or more difficult than they envisioned and I have seen a lot of Elizabeth like moms in my line of work and they have sicken me. So even though I wouldn't like to get to know Hilly as a regular person, she seems to be an ok mom to me.

message 22: by Jeanie (new)

Jeanie Stukey | 1 comments Brandi wrote: "I have a question... where in the story or what part of the book had the most impact on your life?"

It's been several months since I finished this book and I would have to describe the impact in how it's left me "stewing" on the themes of racism and social class and unspoken "rules" within a community. It's tempting to view these issues from afar as "Well it was the South, and it was a long time ago..." but as I reflect on it, I seem to draw a lot of parallels with the Hispanic population and migrant workers right her in my own community, and not 50 years ago, but TODAY...

message 23: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments Agreed Jeanie. Racism still thrives today and it sucks. I also have seen racism and prejudice towards Some Hispanics and Migrant Workers in my communitity and communities around me and I live in Wyoming so I know what I speak of.

message 24: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I love Tomi's ideas about Johnny Foote - I remember thinking how sweet he was. A reminder that you don't have to follow the crowd or the culture in order to be happy.

message 25: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments First, Jeanie I agree with the parallels with the Hispanic population and migrant workers right here in our own community. But there is also the judgement against us as single mothers (i am one). I think there are parallels striped through any community. It is important as a parent to not pass the views of the community onto our children. It is hard when they go off to school and pick up the opinions of their peers. I have to correct my son many times about his attitude toward others based on another kid at school who is carrying around their parents biases and prejudices. I know that prejudices are taught. I was at church when my son was 2½ and he was staring at a beautiful little girl who had been adopted, her skin was black as night and she was wearing a lovely white dress. He was staring and would not stop. I said, "It is not nice to stare." He never moved his stare and said, "I know mama, but she is gorgeous!" I let him stare and knew in my heart that prejudices and judgments were taught not something that was born inside the child.

Now to answer my own question.... Could you sympathize with Miss Hilly? Yes I can, she has to keep her life perfect for her lifestyle. She has chosen this path, but living how she was brought up and taught by her community.
Do you think it is possible to be a good mother despite deep character flaws? I think it is possible to be a good mother despite deep character flaws. Let's face it, we all have flaws. We do the best we can and are good parents. Maybe not perfect, but we love our children and want the best for them. I think secretly we hope to all be super mom, but will settle for just being a good mom!

message 26: by Judy (last edited Jun 23, 2011 01:47PM) (new)

Judy | 17 comments Do you think Stuart liked Skeeter for herself or because he thought she was like his former girlfriend or Hilly or something else? She seemed to like him until he didn't want her to muddy the waters by pursuing her book. Didn't he say something like, everything is pretty good around here so don't mess it up?
I also keep thinking about Constantine and the maid who was sent to prison. It seems like a hundred years after the Civil War, these women still thought of their "colored" help as property and would basically buy and sell them as needed, although I guess by the 1960s it wasn't for money, it was more for power or something.

message 27: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I think Stuart loved Skeeter for herself and that scared him to death. I think he lived under the shadow of his parents and the society in which he was brought up in. I think he was afraid for her, but loved her for her individuality and independence from the life she was brought up in. I think he was afraid of love due to his heartbreak.... maybe Skeeter flat out scared him and he walkd away rather than face his fear. I think that Hilly wanted them to be together, because she wanted Skeeter to conform to the lifestyle in which they lived, repeating or following in the foot steps of her parents. I think Hilly would have loved to have Skeeter live a life just like her, raise children together, play bridge, and be part of her society.
Do you think that later in life that Hilly and Skeeter were able to put the book behind them and reconnect as friends?
What did you think of Minnie's pie for Hilly?

message 28: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments Perfect Revenge for a cruel lady!

message 29: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I admit I laughed out loud and was greatly amused by her pie.... totally a classic revenge.
I don't know if I would have been able to do that...

message 30: by Tomi (new)

Tomi Baker | 7 comments Racial themes: children are taught. We lived in Louisiana in 1976 to 79. My son Jason, age 5, was called the N word by the next door neightbor boy. He came home, knew it was an insult, and asked, "what does that mean?" I explained and then he asked, "What is a black person?" So I told him, the girl who babysits you is black, and several more people we knew from church were black. Jason even went to a preschool that was probably 90% black children. He didn't see the difference in color. His daddy took him to the grocery store, sat in the car, and pointed to people as they came out. "He's white; she's black," until he could finally see the difference. Meanwhile, Jason played with a little boy, Bobby, who was 1/2 black. Bobby's sister was white, little brother, mother and father were all white and Jason never asked "Why?" For many years "black" people were called "Bobby" by Jason and then his younger brothers picked up the word. So, one time I asked the youngest, "Why do you call people 'Bobby', or 'he's a Bobby?'" He could only tell me, "That's what Jason says." Moral: children are taught prejudice or they experience it.

message 31: by Tomi (new)

Tomi Baker | 7 comments The pie, impossible to believe you can make a pie with poo in it. It would definitely ruin it. Nevertheless, I do like the idea of such sweet revenge! And as we all know, you are what you eat.

message 32: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments LOL! that is so funny, never thought about you are what you eat. Thanks I needed a laugh today!
I was in Louisiana from 1995-97. It is amazing how much of the book still fits into the society down there. I was a nanny, and the only white one. It was interesting to say the least.

message 33: by Judy (new)

Judy | 17 comments I saw the trailer the other day. The main characters all seemed bubbly and laughing in every scene. I hope the movie is true to the emotion of the book -- it must be, right? I think the author helped on the movie, from what I read.

message 34: by Judy (new)

Judy | 17 comments Also, I wonder what does become of Hilly and Skeeter? And Elizabeth, who seems so sad? As the times change, and Skeeter probably changes from living in New York, maybe they could reconcile somehow. It happens that way sometimes -- and I wonder what becomes of Aibilene? Boldly starting over again.....

message 35: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments Maybe she will write a sequel which would be nice because then we would get to see how the characters dealt with the 1970s and beyond.

message 36: by Tuesdee (new)

Tuesdee | 19 comments It seems amazing to me just how prejudiced and almost evil some people are in their attitudes.

I'm going to try and respond to several comments since I'm getting in later in the discussion. I think Stuart loved Skeeter, but his family/political responsibilities precluded him loving her once he found out what she believed. It was just to ingrained to overcome.

Hilly did get what was coming to her - what goes around will come around. I loved the toilets on her front lawn! Hopefully more than Mae Mobley actually used them! Just because some one has what we might consider a huge character flaw (and she did have that!) that does not have a bearing on how they parent. Unfortunately they will most likely pass those beliefs on to their children, but that does not mean the children aren't loved and taken care of to the best of the parents ability.

Forgiving someones flaws or racist attitudes because of their culture? Hmmm - I think you can forgive them, but we should try to educate them that there are other views in the world besides what is in their narrow little view.

I think to me the best part of the book was simply the strength the women all had. Skeeter - to go against what was socially acceptable, and follow what she knew was right. Aibilene - she did what was right even though she knew it could be physically and emotionally dangerous. She "raised" 17 children and tried to impart her love and acceptance on them all. One would hope that she succeeded. Minny - she was outspoken even though it caused her problems. She spoke what she knew and didn't back down. She also left an alchoholic/abusive husband when it wasn't socially acceptable.

I appreciated the strong women and it gave me pause to be a more accepting, kinder person.

message 37: by Judy (new)

Judy | 17 comments That is an interesting thought, about what these characters would do in the 1970s? Once they made it past the turbulent 60s anyways --
I have also been thinking about what some of you said about Johnny Foote. He did turn out to be so nice! For all Minny was afraid of him turning up unannounced. For some reason I have been picturing him as older but he would be in his early 20s too, just like the rest of them, right?

message 38: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I pictured Johny Foote in his late 20s, almost 30 for some reason.
I always have certain images in my head when reading, that is why I usually am not so happy with the movie that follows the book.

message 39: by Tuesdee (new)

Tuesdee | 19 comments Books are so much better than the movies. I seem to prefer my imagination that the theatrical interpretation.

message 40: by Tomi (last edited Jul 07, 2011 03:16PM) (new)

Tomi Baker | 7 comments Book to Movie. Sometimes disappointing. Also, I want to say, "you've got it all wrong!" when a character is not depicted as I have imagined him.

message 41: by Brandie (last edited Jul 07, 2011 09:55PM) (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments I understand Tomi how you feel but everybody may picture a character differently even when there is a description in the book for them. For example, although I admit that I never read Sorcercer's stone first and read the Azakaban one instead, I pictured Snape as a short pudgy teacher who wears suits and I kept that image until i read the first one and it changed my image of Snape. Was I mad that he was a tall thin man with long greasy hair who was going to look like Alan Rickman in the first movie? No!

So it all depends on your perspective and people will bicker about it to themselves or others but everyone is different.

message 42: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments Also except for Hilly's actress, I think everyone else is going to do very well in their roles in the film. But as for Bryce Dallas Howard as Hilly only the film will show me if she can do the role justice.

message 43: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments By The Way,

Is anyone going to see the movie in theaters?

message 44: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments I will!

message 45: by Kimberly Ann (new)

Kimberly Ann | 30 comments I plan on it!

message 46: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments I am also going to see it and I am very excited about it!

message 47: by Brandie (new)

Brandie Sump | 14 comments My favorite character is Minny. She was a brash loud mouth woman who dared to be her and not conform to what any employer wanted her to be. Although she was abused, she never gave up and finally got away from her husband and I adore her for that and her personality.

message 48: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Wright | 46 comments Who went to see the movie in the theater last summer? Did you think that Hollywood did a good job telling the book on film?

message 49: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Sullivan | 21 comments Bryce Dallas Howard was perfect. She is the Katharine Hepburn of our generation. The book's twists and turns were only highlighted by the amazing job the actresses did in portraying the characters in a manner so spot on with the novel.

message 50: by Maggie (new)

Maggie Sullivan | 21 comments Side note: Emma Stone is also completely wonderful!

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