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Discussion of "The Help"

Members of the forum choose and read a new book every month together, and then discuss it. Each book of the month get's it's own whole subforum in this forum. Click here to nominate books for book of the month.

How do you rate?

1 star - poor, recommend against reading it
0
No votes
2 stars - okay, fair
2
4%
3 stars- good, recommend it
23
43%
4 stars - excellent, amazing
29
54%
 
Total votes : 54

Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#31  Postby Fran » 23 Jan 2012, 07:11

WSNHB wrote:Usually I read the book first and then see the movie. This time I went to the movie first. I supposed my trepidation was because at one time my mother was a housekeeper, and so was my grandmother. They did not live down south, however. I remember my mother telling me about a lady that did not want Mom parking her car in front of her house because it was old! My mother never went back to work for her. She was ashamed of having to do that kind of work and it motivated her to go to a trade school where she learned data processing. Because as a young girl I recognized the embarassment my Mom felt, I promised myself that I would do well in school so I would never have to do that.

Someone mentioned in an earlier post: ..."This all actually very recent and affecting us directly now not from some distant past. And that's scary. As much as we might consciously be aware of racism and our racist history as a country and a world, I think we just emotionally forget about it and this book throws it back in our faces and really makes us feel how terribly present these issues really are." I would not have to guess at the race because most African Americans are always consciously aware of racism - it hasn't gone anywhere.

Another post was a writer asking if anyone enjoyed the 'pie' incident. Oh my goodness, the theater went wild laughing! Yes, I enjoyed it because some sort of revenge had to be exacted from that character - she was awful! I actually think the movie was better than the book - I can remember details from the movie, but I am going to have to go back and re-read the book.


@WSNHB
Your post reminded me that I once visited Strokestown House, a big, old house in Ireland & one of the 'features' we saw was an undergound passageway. Apparentelly it was installed specifically so that the 'help' could move between the kitchens & the other wings of the mansion without crossing the main reception rooms of the house & being on view to the residents and their guests.
I derive great satisfaction from walking at my leisure through the grounds and mansion knowing that my ancestors would not have been allowed past the front gate (probably not even the back gate!)
"The trouble is, you think you have time." Buddha
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#32  Postby backtobooksmom » 23 Jan 2012, 13:29

I agree that Constantine had a large part of the story line and there should have been some focused paid there.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#33  Postby WSNHB » 25 Jan 2012, 00:29

Fran:
Those are the times I feel as if the ancestors are aware of this! Warm feeling.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#34  Postby hatech123 » 25 Jan 2012, 11:26

i love that book,very interesting.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#35  Postby primrose777 » 29 Jan 2012, 05:28

I found "The Help" one of the best books I have read in quite a while. It was an eye opener for sure about life in the South not that long ago. Abileen was such a loving women who was a role model for positive reinforcement and unconditional love for children. I feared for her and cheered for her. Minnie was a character, tired of being pushed around and who could blame her. The "terrible" was funny, Hillie had it coming really and Minnie was so repentant afterwards. I admired Skeeter, torn between justice and injustice and making her way toward her dreams.
This book was able to draw laughter, sadness, anger and hope for the future all within it's pages. I would highly reccomend it. Have not as yet seen the movie, looking forward to it though.
There are years that ask questions and years that answer. Zora Neale Hurston.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#36  Postby goldlyn » 30 Jan 2012, 21:46

In 1964, I graduated from high school in a "wide spot in the road" called Fern Creek, Kentucky. I lived through the "long hot summer" of 1966, when Freedom Riders were being killed, the blacks were rioting and there was a curfew. Believe me, the author had it right; in fact, she was really going easy on us with details. The Help is a very good book and I would definitely recommend it without reservation. I enjoyed the movie, too.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#37  Postby kerireames » 31 Jan 2012, 13:58

As others have said, this book brought my reading gene back to the frontline. I have not been able to put down a book since! The Help was a wonderful book to bring back my love of reading. My favorite aspect of the book was the dialect that the author used when the maids were narrating the chapters. As for the movie, though it left a lot out, I still found it to be enjoyable. For those that saw the movie without reading the book first, I feel missed a lot of the little things in the movie. I watched with my best friend who has never read the book and although she enjoyed it, I had to explain a lot of things to her that she did not understand or catch on to. I also feel that May Mobley's part should have been bigger in the movie. I suggested this book to my mother and she read it in about a week! She said the book reminded her of when she was growing up and had a maid in her home that helped take care of her as well.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#38  Postby ClarityJules » 01 Feb 2012, 06:54

The book draws you in pretty quickly because right from the first page, Abileen felt so very real. Her voice comes through those pages so strongly that you barely notice the author. Abileen, by far, is my favorite character. The way that she talks about her son's death is so matter of fact that it adds to the poignancy of the topic, yet at the same time you can feel that she is a survivor.

I guessed the awful thing that Minny did as soon as Chocolate Pie was mentioned. It has to be truly awful for her to feel so much shame. Minny rarely regrets anything. I loved how that thread was dangled, leaving us guessing. Same with the character Celia, I kept wondering what was up with her. What was it she was hiding.

I'm glad Stuart got the boot. Glad that Eugenia found her true self instead of the mold expected of her lot in life.

The only thing I found a little disappointing was Constantine. The reveal didn't feel right. It felt a little anticlimactic. I would have liked a little more exploration of what happened there. Perhaps even hearing the POV of Constantine's daughter Lulabelle.

Otherwise, I did enjoy this book and towards the end, I powered through it, missing some valuable sleep just to see how it all turned out for Abileen.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#39  Postby avarofurbin » 07 Feb 2012, 01:56

The Help- Kathryn Stockett is one of my favorite book .It is sure to be one of my favorites for 2009. It is about women of strength and manage to care about others despite an unjust system.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#40  Postby Maud Fitch » 02 Mar 2012, 00:02

“The Help” by Kathryn Stockett is an exceptional book, written by a white woman who was born after the Sixties yet raised by a black woman employee. Stockett understands the dynamics of having someone care for you and your family for many years, yet never truly being a part of it. I think this book was cathartic for her, a way of righting some of the wrongs (or at least the disinterest) towards the hired help by exposing both sides of the racial divide in an immensely absorbing story.

It is said that her characters are stereotypical but, if so, this does not detract as you are drawn into the lives of the three main woman, Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter. I felt as though I was in the kitchen with them, visiting each others homes and experiencing the ever-present tension which went with the territory. There are many uneasy situations, I guess anyone reading this knows what I’m talking about, e.g. mother/daughter relationship, Hilly, but one which I thought was a nice ‘revelation’ for Skeeter was when she offered Aibileen money for her household tips but they both knew it was a bribe disguised as goodwill.

In interviews, Stockett has stressed it is a work of fiction although I think there’s a bit of Skeeter in her (naivety) and a long-time family help, with a name similar to Aibileen, sued her for defamation. Perhaps this shows how close to the bone her novel really is.

Goldlyn posted that Stockett went easy on the fight-for-freedom details and I agree. It could have been a lot less sanitised, however, I think that would have detracted from the intimacy of the content.

Without getting too political, the ‘revolution’ may have occurred in the US but Indigenous Australians are still struggling for an identity. Admittedly our social structure is different but the inequality is alive and well.

I strongly recommend this book to all readers. What bothers me is that society’s movers and shakers and law makers may never read it.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#41  Postby Carla Hurst-Chandler » 05 Mar 2012, 10:13

I agree. Having seen the movie and read the book. Unfortunately the "stereotyping" wasn't stereotyping at all. This was life back during the civil rights movement in the South...and it didn't really end until much later. Yes, Skeeter and Cecelia's characters had just as much of a story to tell as The Help. They would have been the exceptions and shunned, injured or killed. In 1969 in Wiggins Mississippi there were still rectangular signs over laundromats and drinking fountains with Coloreds Only on them. There are places today that the rectangles are still there...just painted over. People tend to view this as ancient history...when less than 50 years ago black people were still not served at white lunch counters and the situations portrayed in this book/movie were daily life. Above all...50 years ago a book like this could have never been written or published.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#42  Postby StephenKingman » 05 Mar 2012, 17:06

Im late to the thread but i really loved The Help not only for opening my eyes to the reality of life for maids in the 60s but for showing how strong the human spirit can be when pushed to intolerable limits. Aibhleen in the early parts of the book would never consider speaking out but after one comment too many with regards colored people she stood up for something she believed in, even knowing the dangers. And lo and behold, she found support from her fellow maids, particularly her spitfire friend Minny, who bowls through the book as an almost visible character. Their combined strength and courage led to their stories being told and one further step towards integration occuring, with the handy metaphor of Martin Luther King as a backdrop to the story.

I also admired Skeeter for her courage in not wanting to live the kind of clean and safe, conventional life that awaited her if she married Stuart and attended all the posh events and nodded at all the right times, she went down her own path and was a catalyst to the changes in the maids and in my opinion just as important a character as Minny or Aibhleen. Cant wait for the movie now. :D
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#43  Postby Carla Hurst-Chandler » 05 Mar 2012, 18:54

SKM...loved the movie. Casting was amazing! Hope you enjoy it!
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#44  Postby Original Cyn » 05 Mar 2012, 23:41

I just watched The Help on PPV after hearing all the positive remarks and awards it was receiving. I had to check it out for myself and I must say I was pleasantly surprised. What a great movie with fine performances.
I've not read the book but I imagine it must be quite a good read to get that kind of attention.

So Kathryn Stockett writes the book, it garners enough attention that they make a movie out of it, which enables Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis to walk away with some great awards for it. Damn, I hope I can write something like that someday.
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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post Number:#45  Postby Maud Fitch » 06 Mar 2012, 02:41

StephenKingman wrote:I also admired Skeeter for her courage in not wanting to live the kind of clean and safe, conventional life that awaited her if she married Stuart and attended all the posh events and nodded at all the right times, she went down her own path and was a catalyst to the changes in the maids and in my opinion just as important a character as Minny or Aibhleen. Cant wait for the movie now.


Yes, I agree with your comments, in fact my 'real' book club asked us the following questions (probably courtesy of Oprah) and I thought I'd share them:

1. Who was your favourite character? Why?

Every character had struggles to overcome and I found it difficult to separate the three main women but my favourite was Aibileen for her wisdom. Although I ended up liking Skeeter because she was the catalyst, admittedly with a dating self-destruct button, and I believe she embodied a part of the author Kathryn Stockett.

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

Yes, of course. Admittedly she was her own worst enemy, saying the wrong things at the wrong time, but she had been stabbed in the back so often she was always defensive and looking for that hidden agenda which usually presented itself in such a way that she was powerless to stand up for herself.

3. 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?

Rather a tricky question because it involves child psychology as well as racial prejudice. Children play with other children and don’t worry about the finer details like colour, money, clothes, so I’d have to go with taught. As children gain awareness of their surroundings they ask questions so if their parents respond with segregationist anti-black answers, the child will absorb this. Aibileen may have been able to give Mae Mobley both sides of the story.

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

Superficially we are shaped by our times, fashion, fads, media, music, new gadgets, but I believe underneath basic human nature does not change. We always seem to have traits like kindness and cruelty, generosity and greed, compassion and callousness in equal measure. It's hoped that the good deeds come to the fore.

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

First of all, I’d like to say that was an exceedingly good plot device but I think it was out of character because Minny(who couldn't leave her husband for fear of being alone) would have known such an action was going to backfire and destroy her working life. Personally, due to my cautious nature, I couldn’t/wouldn’t go that far.

6. Do you think that this novel has the potential to become a classic?

Yes, and I think it may become a book which will be studied in literature classrooms.

That's my personal opinion - how would you answer those questions?
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