By Pooja / Spinebreakers Crew
Set in 1960’s Mississippi ‘The Help’ is both a saddening yet funny story of the relationships between black workers, in particular maids, and their white employers. Whilst the author confronts the very real racial issue in the southern states of America, she also captures the daily aspects of working women and the variety of situations they are faced with. Despite the fact the book is largely centred on females, I believe it really can be enjoyed by all.
Stockett delivers an already heavily explored central theme in a surprising writing style. Although the multiple narrative form echoes books such as ‘Small Island’, her lexis and phonetic representation of speech gives each character authenticity and a depth of personality beyond the words on the page. The tone of each is distinctly unique and as a reader you develop a deep sense of empathy with the characters. As such, you should not be surprised to find the book has been consumed in the short space of a few days, but rather disappointed in the wish that the book had carried on that little bit longer.
Although you may probably have deduced that I greatly enjoyed the book, I feel it would have benefitted from a voice that was pro segregation. Maybe a controversial idea, but using a character such as Miss Hilly for example, would highlight the complexity of these relations, when racism was integral to their upbringing as a white child under the influence of a society that only dealt in binary opposites.
However, the book as it is has a gripping plot, that not only captures interest, but creates a distinct setting that draws the reader into this time to further their understanding. Stockett incorporates a diverse range of events and themes that can shock you, make you laugh and even cry at the expression of such longing. She really does capture the feeling of the intense love and dislike shared by the maids and the families they work for.
‘The Help’ is an awakening to the reader. Not only can one realise the progression of people and be grateful for the struggles that allow us to live in a largely accepting era, it serves as a reminder that ill feeling between races has not been eradicated from the world. Furthermore, though racism is a reoccurring theme, Stockett is clear to illustrate humanity is the undeniable quality that connects us all.
“We are just people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I’d thought.”