the Help: A Book Review

Title: the Help  Type: Fiction

By Kathryn Stockett

What I like about the book.

My favorite character is Aibileen, and my favorite relationship is the relationship between Aibileen and the little girl she cares for, Mae Mobley.  I am delighted to discover that Aibileen is teaching Mae Mobley not to judge people based on their skin color.  She does this by taking advantage of her special times alone with the little girl.  During these times, she tells Mae stories that capture Mae’s attention.  One such story begins on page 234 and is about two little girls who cannot figure out why one of them is black and one is white.  The girls point out that they both have hair, a nose and toes.  They decide that their skin color is all that is different about them, and that they will be friends.  Telling Mae Mobley these stories is very brave on Aibileen’s part.  I am sure real people in her position in 1960’s Jackson Mississippi were killed for a lot less.

Aibileen is also concerned about how Mae Mobley feels about herself.  Most of the attention Mae gets from her mother is negative, and Mae Mobley has taken to saying “Mae Mobley bad”.  Aibileen decides to try to boost Mae’s self-esteem by getting Mae to say good things about herself each day.  Aibileen says, “’You a smart girl.  You a Kind girl, Mae Mobley.  You hear me?’  And I keep saying it till she repeat it back to me” (P. 107).

Even in times of sadness and stress Aibileen is careful to do what’s right.  On her last day with Mae Mobley, Mae has a high fever, and both Aiboleen and Mae are crying.  When Mae Mobley asks if Aibileen is leaving to care for another little girl Aibileen says, “’No, baby, that’s not the reason.  I don’t want a leave you, but’… How do I put this?  I can’t tell I’m fired, I don’t want her to blame her mama and make it worse between em.  ‘It’s time for me to retire.  You my last little girl’” (P. 520).

I wonder if there were a lot of maids like Aibileen in real life 1960’s Missisippi.  Black women loving and caring for white children.  Loving those children enough to risk their own lives to teach them that good people come in different colors.  I wonder if some of those children grew up to have a positive impact on race relations and other aspects of society.

What I do not like about the book.

I am keeping this part short because I do not want it to take over this review like it took over the book.  I hate the poop pie.  I am very disappointed in Kathryn Stockett for putting it in what could have been one of the most interesting works of fiction on race relations.  This book cannot be considered for such an honor now.  I think I know Minny better than Kathryn Stockett.  Do I think Minny would have gotten the better of Hilly?  Do I think she would have taught Hilly a much needed lesson?  I most certainly do, but Minny would not have committed such a crime to do it.

Note to Sociologists

This would make a great introductory to doing social research.