Discussion of "The Help"

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Re: Discussion of "The Help"

Post by StephenKingman » 06 Mar 2012, 07:54

Maud Fitch wrote:
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?
Great comments Maud and it must be fab to have a rel life book club to discuss books, i have never even heard of one in or around Waterford, its probably more a thing where a few people meet in houses to have a chat, nothing official. As for your qs:

1. Minny was my fave as she has such an outgoing and determmined attitude to life, despite being beaten by her husband and facing racism in a daily basis. You can see she has an innate desire to rebel and cause waves (not trouble as such just very opinionated) as she has to remind herself not to cuss on the white women and lose her job. She also has a great sense of humor and some of her remarks on Celia were very funny.

2. Hard to know, was there anything else that Minny went through that other maids at the time didnt? I didnt get that vibe in the book, she certainly felt put upon after Hilly blackened her name but that was as a result of her pie actions, which was her own personality coming through so im not sure if she had a particularly strong grudge against the whites compared to everyone else.

3. I believe Mae would have retained a better view of blacks due to Aibhleens constant stories and reminders of how skin color is just a superficial difference but i suspect this view would only stick in Mae's head as long as Aibhleen was around to remind her- if she was gone and replaced by a less caring maid, her mothers constant color bashing may stick in her head and she may turn out just like her mother. Racism i think is half inhereted and half nurtured.

4. A lot of your character is shaped by what your friends do, what they wear, movies, music, mannerisms, your parents and culture but as Maud says, whether you are in 1860 or 2012 fundamental human characteristics like compassion and kindness remain in a person if they are that way inclined. A person may feel injustice in them no matter what the time period and even the maids in the end decided they were not willing to put up with their stories being repressed.

5. I thought this was a bit disgusting to be honest and although it didnt lessen my view of Minny I think just being seen using Hillys toilet would have been revenge enough, and i hope they dont go down the whole chocolate pie route in the movie.

6. Hard to tell at this stage, too many books are regarded as instant classics these days but it will certainly stand the test of time as a fantastic and thought provoking novel for sure.
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Post by Carla Hurst-Chandler » 06 Mar 2012, 12:07

Maud wrote:
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:

~laughing~ Thanks for sharing the questions...this is MY real book club <grin>

1. Who was your favourite character? Why?

Minny. She was the character I could most relate to. Kind of a wild-card.

[/i]2. Do you think Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?

In Mississippi in the 60's? Certainly. People were being killed back then for "...not knowing their place..."

[/i]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?

No...I think Aibileen was trying every day to counteract the hatred and prejudice in Mae's world. Children don't begin life prejudice and hateful. They learn it. Either by being taught or example.

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

A great deal. In the South in the 60's the attitude towards blacks was just the climate of the day...just like today (2012) they hate liberals and gays. Every area and time has its own prejudices. In Canada in the 80's it was Newfies and Paki's (people from Newfoundland and Pakistan) Go figure.

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

Not terribly realistic given the time. Minny would have gottten a lot more than fired and Hilly would have gotten a lot more than throwing up...human feces is filled with e-coli. To quote a black girlfrind who saw the movie and reccomended it to me... "they would be a lot of little white babies drownt in buckets." I don't know that I agree with that...but I know that quietly I would have made life "difficult" and definetly spit in every meal I fixed.

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

Yes. I think it is up there with To Kill A Mockingbird...in painting a picture of 1960 racial tension.
“The real cycle you're working on is a cycle called yourself.”
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Post by Maud Fitch » 08 Mar 2012, 18:43

It was great to read your answers, guys.

It is certainly a book about women who had the strength to face up to whatever life threw at them.
"Every story has three sides to it - yours, mine and the facts" Foster Meharny Russell

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Post by jayceeme2010 » 16 May 2012, 15:02

I agree, thumbs up for this one!

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Post by WSNHB » 20 May 2012, 14:14

@ Post 45: Those are some great questions from your 'real' book club, Maud!

Question #3: My feeling is that racism is taught - when you see little ones playing, they seem to have no regard for 'color'; however, children also watch behaviors of those they are around so the 'teaching' may not be a direct but indirect occurrence.

Question #5: I've seen so many co-workers who are one way on the job and totally opposite at home, so Minny's actions with the pie did not seem so out of character to me. Question #2: Answered with a question - were any African Americans in that time period justified in their distrust? I suppose you really have to have walked in the shoes or had relatives who could relate it to you to understand.

Just some of my thoughts. Thanks for sharing those questions with us!

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Post by scarletgirl » 10 Jul 2012, 03:48

This is an amazing book that ever read. "The Help" a book about love and suffering, hatred and faith, fear and courage. It is about women of strength and dignity who carry on and manage to care about others despite an unjust system. It is a beautiful book, unforgettable in many ways. It is touching, thought-provoking, humorous and compelling.

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Post by Derricks » 26 Sep 2012, 11:08

good. the book is really good.
there is also a movie about this book.
that was also made good.
i like that.

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Post by vijaykumarA » 28 Sep 2012, 08:39

Definition for Help: Contribute to the furtherance of.
I think “The Help” is an appropriate book to understand the meaning of word “Help”. I think in this book author Kathryn Stocket dealing with two things. One is with issues of the help and another is with stereotyping (no exception).
I enjoyed while reading this book.

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Post by Kendra » 02 Feb 2013, 17:09

Hi everyone! This is my first post ever in this forum, and I read this book about a month ago. I enjoyed it very much, and I especially liked the fact that I had no idea what would happen until the last few pages! When I was reading the last 100 pages, I couldn't even take my eyes of the page to take a sip of coffee! The characters were interesting and the story developed naturally. It was especially interesting to see the development of Hilly and Minny as characters. I love the parallels and the stark contrasts between them. I don't mean to ruin the book for anyone looking to read, so I won't expose details. In the beginning they aren't too far off from each other, yet at the end they have completely separated in personality, and I believe the connections Minny has with Aibleen, Mrs. Celia, Ms. Skeeter are responsible for these changes. It's stunning to see how just being around a certain group of people can completely change you, and I think this book expresses that idea very well. The fact that if we just reach out and talk to people we don't know and/or never cared to know before can completely change your outlook on life.
If you are skeptical about this book, don't be! Just give it a try. It's chock full of humor, history, and wonderful writing. Even if you read it and you think it turns out to be just okay (which I doubt), it's a quick read and I think it would be worth your time.
Thank you for reading my post. :D

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Post by clotwins08 » 03 Feb 2013, 01:02

The plot was good but the book was a hard read becasue of the jumping back and forth from character to character.

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Post by kasiviswanath » 28 Feb 2013, 07:09

The loved this book. The book is fiction I think the book depicted a good example of racism. I would recommend this book to anyone, especially young people.

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Post by lady_charlie » 09 Apr 2013, 21:48

I read this book last year. Yuck, right?
Not sure what to think about that pie.
Just reading the notion of banning Huck Finn on account of the n word, I think people who don't understand their history are doomed to repeat it, and books like The Help create an understanding of where we are today and how we got here.
If we are banning Huck Finn, then we better ban The Help, but maybe we better just get to reading and talking and understanding.
and after what happened in Chicago this week maybe we better hurry up about it.
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Post by brina_grace » 24 Jun 2013, 23:55

This book was really good. I read it before the movie came out and loved it. Whenever a movie comes out based off of a book I give it a chance. But in my opinion the books are always better especially with the help. Books go into more detail then a movie ever will. This book is so inspiring to others to follow their dreams and to stand up for what they think is right.

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Post by reluctantreader » 05 Jul 2013, 15:58

I absolutely loved this book. It took me a while to get over the way it was written in an accent but once I did I really enjoyed it. I really liked all the different stories and perspectives. I also really enjoyed the film

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Post by TammyO » 30 Aug 2013, 10:57

Yes I really enjoyed the book as well. It was well written. It captured a lot of the feelings and emotions that were rampant during this time. Like most people it was so hard to put this book down until I turned the last and final page. I laughed and cried with the ladies. I will definitely see this movie. Most books turned into movies usually leaves a lot to be desired. However, I think I will enjoy this one. Thanks for the link Fran. :D
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