Domestic helps are the backbone of the American economy. As mothers leave their houses to go build the economy, they entrust their children and their homes to these helps. However, despite the immensely crucial role that they play, the thousands of men and women who raise children, and ensure that homes run smoothly often go uncelebrated. Through The Help, Stockett set out to elevate domestic helps. She recognizes the sacrifices that they make and challenge her readers to join her in celebrating these bold and incredibly generous individuals.
While it is true that The Help addresses the general experiences of domestic helps, it gives special attention to African American women. In particular, this text explores the implications that racial segregation presents for these women. According to Stockett, many black women are forced to abandon their own children to ensure that the children of their white counterparts receive the care that they need. By giving special attention to the black women, The Help highlights the racial underpinnings of domestic service.
When she was writing The Help, Stockett must have been inspired by real experiences of real women. This inspiration can be seen in some of the characters that feature in this text. For example, Aibileen, a black domestic servant is among the numerous women on whom Stockett sheds light. By including Aibileen in her narrative, Stockett clearly aimed to elevate people of color to a platform from which their voices could be amplified. The Help is therefore an important tool for highlighting the African American experience in a changing America.
Aibileen is just one of the numerous women that feature in The Help. This text also explores the life of Miss Skeeter, a white woman who enjoys the services of a domestic help. Whereas the help has no vision, Miss Skeeter aspires to be a writer. The juxtaposition of the two women helps to highlight how poverty and race collude to fail black women. While their white counterparts can dream and pursue their vision, the African American women are forced to give up and resign themselves to a miserable existence.
As they approach The Help, readers should brace themselves for heartbreaks and disappointment. One would expect that given the sacrifices that the black domestic helps make, their white employers and the white children for whom they dedicate their lives would be more appreciative. However, as Stockett reveals, this is not the case as the white children develop to join their parents in perpetrating racism. This book is indeed timely as it offers America an opportunity to reflect on how it treats those who have given up a lot to see the nation thrive.
As pointed out earlier, Stockett’s book sheds light on the lives of African American domestic helps. However, what is surprising is that the book does not give much mention or attention to the children of these women. How do these children feel? What is their academic performance like? What type of outcomes do they witness in adulthood? By answering these questions, the book would have better allowed audiences to recognize the damaging and long-lasting impacts of the white employer-black help dynamic. However, despite failing to expose these impacts, the book remains insightful, relevant and rich.
While Stockett makes it clear that African American and white women have vastly different experiences, she indicates that there are some struggles that the two classes of women share. Among these struggles is being subjugated and oppressed. On the one hand, the black women endure poverty and racism. On the other hand, the white women, represented by Miss Skeeter are subjugated by an oppressive patriarchal system that expects women to remain quite and focus on finding husbands. This similarity offers a rare opportunity where white women can relate with their African American counterparts.
While it is true that both black and white women grapple with hardships, the challenges that the former face are far graver. Stockett suggests that American society is kinder to white women. For example, without committing much effort, Miss Skeeter, the white woman in the book manages to find a publisher for her book. On the other hand, such black women as Aibileen continue to work as domestic helps. This book shows how American society is skewed and that it continues to frustrate the efforts of African American girls and women.
The Help is more than a mere work of fiction. It is also a mirror that points out the unacceptable hypocrisy in American society. Stockett highlights this hypocrisy through the voice of Aibileen, a frustrated, and exhausted maid who is deeply displeased with how the nation treats African Americans. She laments that while African Americans are asked to take care of white children, they are made to use separate toilets and are not compensated fairly. Aibileen’s lamentations should challenge readers to join Stockett in pushing for a fairer US.
Any complete and objective review of The Help must include a discussion of how amplifying the voices of black women can have a liberating and powerful effect. Stockett describes the immense sense of relief and pleasure that Minny, another black character in the book experiences after talking about her struggles as an African American woman in a racist America. Her words are crucial as they highlight the importance of such works as The Help. This book provides black women with platforms to make themselves heard and visible.
Perhaps the most important message that Stockett conveys through The Help is that the liberation of women does not require external intervention. Through such characters as Aibileen and Minny the book makes it clear that women have the power to improve their lives. However, the book suggests that the women can benefit from some support and resources. For instance, it took Miss Skeeter for the three African American women to tell their stories. Therefore, as it trusts women to turn their lives around, society should be ready to provide support.
The Help offers a scathing indictment of American society. It lays bare the nation’s failures and challenges it to do more to address the plight of African Americans. It is particularly refreshing that the book is dedicated almost entirely to women. Men have dominated narratives and for this reason, Stockett must be recognized for the courage that she displayed in sharing the experiences of women. If women are to make even greater progress, other literary creators need to emulate Stockett by telling the stories of women through the voices of women.
Stockett’s book is remarkably relevant, and timely. It is also tremendously insightful. However, this book suffers some shortcomings. Among its main limitations is that it adopts a tone that is rather soft and polite. Given the heft and seriousness of the topics that the book explores, one would expect that Stockett would be more direct in her condemnation of American society. This failure could see the book fail to appeal to women who are looking for inspiration to push for action.
In conclusion, Stockett’s The Help is among the books that underscore the power of literature. Through this book, Stockett offers readers an insider look into the struggles, hopes, and fears of women, African Americans in particular. The book is easy to recommend. It would particularly benefit young girls who are frustrated with the slow rate of progress in guaranteeing equal rights for women.