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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.
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!)
A world is born again that never dies.
- My Home by Clive James
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.
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.
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.
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
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.
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
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.
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?