The Help by Kathryn Stockett
About a year ago I saw a satiric poster on the internet for the movie The Help that said “White people solve racism… you’re welcome black people.” I laughed and assumed that this was mostly correct. I mean, it’s a pretty standard movie trope – the white guys always better at being an African or a Native or Na’vi or whoever is struggling against the oppression.
But this book isn’t really like that. It’s a little bit more complicated.
Because it is Skeeter, the white character, who starts something, but really what she does is give a voice to the maids in her community. She doesn’t teach them, she doesn’t even really expect it to improve their situation, she just gives people who had never been heard before a chance. I feel like that’s always a really complicated issue in empowering people. If none of the privileged ever give power to the underprivileged then how can they affect the world? But on the other hand, by having to have power given does that mean they are still unempowered?
I have no idea.
The exception of course is Aibileen who uses her work with Skeeter as a way to take control of her life by doing something she loves and has always loved.
As well as being a book about race relations, it’s also a book about gender. Although there are a few important male characters for the most part men just kind of hover around the fringes, beings that disapprove and are to be feared, who control the space of Jackson but aren’t really part of the story, like a boundary instead of a group of people.
The saddest part about the book is knowing how true it is. Even if the characters are mostly fictional, the reality is that this is probably a pretty realistic portray of life for you know, a lot of non-fictional people. And that it’s still kind going on.
I don’t know, even though there are some beautifully funny, touching moments it’s hard to talk about this book without getting all serious. It’s actually kind of hard to talk about it at all. Usually I love talking about books and what I’m reading, but this book … I don’t know. Reading it was a really personal experience. I’m not sure that it’s meant to be discussed.
So with that in mind, that was a great book.
Last movie I watched: Lawless. Pluses include great cast and lots of brother interaction which I always enjoy. Minuses include excessive use of violence and not enough Gary Oldman.
Last TV show I watched: Young Justice. Which is probably the smartest cartoon EVER.