How do you like the book? Would you recommend it to others? What do you like most about it? Is there anything you did not like? Any favorite characters? Are there any passages from the book you found especially noteworthy? If so, please quote them here. Do you have any questions about the book for the rest of the group?
I haven't seen the movie yet, but I always like to watch the movie adaptation of a book after having read the book. Has anyone seen the movie yet? If so, how did you like the movie? How did the movie compare to the book? How much did the movie stay true to the book?
I liked reading this book very much. I think the author, Kathryn Stockett, does a great job at keeping the story interesting and suspenseful without being melodramatic or using cheap suspense tricks.
One thing I noticed several times that kept my interest was the way her characters would repeatedly reference something making you wonder what it is but without letting you know for a while. The biggest examples of course is the "Terrible. Awful." which Minny teases us by mentioning so many time before we find out what the terrible, awful thing she did was. Another time was when Skeeter would reference what she was told about what her mother did to Constantine.
I think Hilly made for a nice villain. She wasn't too one-dimensional and did have some redeeming qualities to make her that much scarier of a villain. (IMO, the more a villain can seem like a good guy, the better for the drama and just to have a well-developed, interesting and frighteningly realistic villain.)
Going back to the "Terrible. Awful." what did you think of that? I was figuring Minny threw the pie at Hilly or something more like that. It is remarkable but I think it was a little to much for me, and made me appreciate the character of Minny a little less. I am surprised so many of the characters took it so well, particularly Celia.
Overall I like that the book is sort of emotionally challenging. It is almost hard to read because although fiction it is so true-to-life. It brings up a true, real part of American and in a way global life. Although the book describes a past that many might like to think of as far removed from our modern day sensibilities, the book is set in the 1960s. These people would almost all still be alive today. Most of our grandparents were probably born before Miss Leefolt, Miss Hilly and all. 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. The book is more effective at that, I think, then just listing off some facts or statistics about the time then or even racism now because just objective, bare facts are just telling us what we already know. But this book delivers a well-written, interesting, emotive story in its own right that happens to make us feel the reality of recent and current racism.
I didn't know what to think when I learned the author was a white woman. I think she did a good job without going overboard. I am not surprised to find that some people are offending by her writing as a black woman in the 1960s as she did, though, even though I think she did a good job. I am conflicted about this. Sure she could have used a more reasonable vernacular for many of her black characters, provided more focus to the horrors of racism namely the sexual victimization of black maids by the white families; but on the other hand too much of that would turn the book into a boring political expose about already well-documented history, which goes against what I believe makes the book being powerfully progressive: that it is a heartfelt, well-written, plot-filled story that caused the reader to feel about racism rather than just know about some of the facts of racism. But who would I be to say her portrayal of blacks is not offensive or is acceptable? I can see where those who feel that way are coming from. What do you all think?
Anyway, here are some things I highlighted while reading:
Earlier in the book, a little after Aibleen witnesses Mae Mobley being spanked for trying to use the "colored bathroom," Aibleen narrates, "I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can here me that dirty ain't a color, disease ain't the Negro side a town. I want to stop that moment from coming--and it come in ever white child's life--when they start to think that colored folks ain't as good as whites." I think that very well sums a up a major motif in the book when Aibleen is narrating.
Later on, again with Aibleen, she is thinking about the ways white women might get back at her if they find out about the book. Aibleen narrates:
[Miss Skeeter] don't know about them sharp, shiny utensils a white lady use. About that knock on the door, late at night. That there are white men out there hungry to hear about a colored person crossing whites.
I really think that shines a very interesting, albeit frightening, light on racism at least at the time. It's not so much that white supremacists are angry because they think a non-white person 'stepped out of line' that motivates all the white supremacists terrible actions; rather it's that the white supremacist is angry, wants to lash out (at black people) and is just waiting for an excuse.
It isn't very significant to the story but I laughed like when Skeeter narrates:
Stuart needs "space" and "time," as if this were physics and not a human relationship.
I found another exchange quite remarkable--if you know the characters--when Miss Hilly and Miss Leefolt talk about racists:
Miss Hilly nods. "[Skeeter] needs to learn that she can't carry on this way. I mean, around us it's one thing, but around some other people, she's going to get in big trouble."
"It's true. There are some racists in this town," Miss Leefolt say.
Miss Hilly nod her head, "Oh, they're out there."
It's sort of funny, but I also think it reflects a lot on racism even nowadays in that many are probably racists in denial.
Anyway, I want to here what you all think?