The Help reaches out to viewers, readers

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The Movie

By Aleksandra Bursac

Emma Stone and Viola Davis are revolutionary in Tate Taylor’s adaptation of Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help.

Stone plays the role of Skeeter, an aspiring writer in the 1960’s who returns home form college to find herself facing racism in a way that hit closer to home. Her closest companion, the families African American maid has gone missing and she has just landed a job at the local newspaper writing a column she knows nothing about. Enter Aibileen Clark, (Davis) the maid of Skeeter’s close friend Elizabeth Leefolt. Aibileen helps Skeeter with the advice column and inspires her to start writing on behalf of all the maids in the town. But Aibileen has struggles of her own, most of which are due to the racist outlooks of the people she works for. The South is not a safe place for her or her friends.

Fueled by the civil rights movement, Skeeter embarks on a mission to expose the truth behind the jobs the Southern African American maids take, and the pains they face because of them. The movie is spectacular, it takes you on an emotional trip unlike many of the latest action packed movies out in theaters. At times you will laugh hysterically and at other times it will be tough not to cry. The movie is touching and the story it tells about the maids is very real. I highly suggest you pick it up as soon as it hits store shelves. Also, grab the book as well because we all know that no movie has ever been better than the book that preceded it.

The Book

By Sophia Swenson

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett begins on an August day in Jackson, Mississippi, in 1962. Although the novel switches its point of view between three main characters, its first chapters are seen through the eyes of Aibileen, a black maid who is currently looking after her seventeenth white child.

 

As the novel progresses, Minny, a feisty black maid and Skeeter, a white college graduate are introduced as well. All three women have their problems; some more serious than others, and begin to grow closer as their lives are intertwined.

 

After Skeeter is asked by her friend to print an advertisement in the weekly newsletter which informs white housewives of the risk of using the same toilet as their black maids, Skeeter’s eyes are opened to the humiliation and injustice the women behind the scenes are susceptible to.

 

Ensuing chats over cleaning tips with Aibileen, Skeeter presents the idea of a collection of stories told by different maids, on their treatment behind closed doors. Although they are both hesitant at first, Aibileen and Minny agree to be interviewed, and to help find others who might add to the book.

 

Soon enough, Skeeter and her book become a well-kept secret between the maids as more and more stories are recorded. Parallel to the books creation are the three separates stories of each protagonist. Minny, who has a reputation as “mouthy”, can only find a job tidying up after a wife who wants to keep her assistance a secret. Skeeter, who has just returned home from college, has no boyfriend and can’t seem to win her mother’s respect. Finally, Aibileen is forced to watch over a child whose mother refuses to acknowledge her.

 

Full of venom, Stockett’s Mississippi is as forgiving to a black woman as a pot of boiling water is to an ice cube. As the book and the bond between the three protagonists grow stronger, the danger that lies ahead for any black woman who added to the book grows as well.

 

From the beginning of the novel, Stockett wastes no time in expressing the racism and oppression bred in the south during the mid- twentieth century. But counter to the hate, Stockett also keeps her characters strong-willed and strong minded. Instead of pitying themselves, Aibileen and Minny understand who the true fools are, and often look down upon those who wrong them.

 

A beautifully written work over-all, The Help captures not only the spirit, but the voice of those whose help would have otherwise gone un-noticed, and the beauty that can be found within such a relentless place.

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

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