sexta-feira, 22 de junho de 2012

The Help - Kathryn Stockett

These last two weeks I have come to a conclusion: life is pointless. 
We wake up everyday, work, study, marry, have kids, die. 
Few people in this world can attest differently. And I would say that after reading this book I felt like as if I wanted to be one of those people. One of those people who actually did something more than the five items I've just listed above. 
In this book simple, everyday women without glorious lives, fancy degrees or impressive stories to tell did something impressive: they opened their mouths, they got together, they fought against and for something, they told their stories which impressed all of those near and far them. 
It is a simple story, simple wording and yet that speaks a truth so deep that it automatically wakes you up. Strong women. Brave women. Women that didn't shy against the rules and dictatorship of their days and put their lives in risk to see something change. Be it for good, be it for bad. There had to be change!
And yet it is a light story, one that you take pleasure in reading, skip away through its pages, flip your fingers through its pages and laugh aloud as you read Mrs. Hilly eating Minny's shit pie made especially for her!!! 


The Help is a 2009 novel by American author Kathryn Stockett. The story is about African American maids working in white households in Jackson,Mississippi, during the early 1960s. A USA Today article called it one of 2009's "summer sleeper hits".[1] An early review in The New York Times notes Stockett's "affection and intimacy buried beneath even the most seemingly impersonal household connections" and says the book is a "button-pushing, soon to be wildly popular novel".[2] The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said of the book, "This heartbreaking story is a stunning début from a gifted talent".[3]
The novel is Stockett's first. It took her five years to complete and was rejected by 60 literary agents before agent Susan Ramer agreed to represent Stockett.[4][5] The Help has since been published in 35 countries and three languages.[6] As of August 2011, it has sold five million copies and has spent more than 100 weeks on The New York Times Best Seller list.[7][8]
The Help'audiobook version is narrated by Jenna Lamia, Bahni Turpin, Octavia Spencer, and Cassandra Campbell. Spencer was Stockett's original inspiration for the character of Minny, and also plays her in the film adaptation.[4]

[edit]The Help is set in the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, and told primarily from the first-person perspectives of three women: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Aibileen is an African-American maid who cleans houses and cares for the young children of various white families. Her first job since her own 24-year-old son died from an accident on his job is tending the Leefolt household and caring for their toddler, Mae Mobley. Minny is Aibileen's confrontational friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them, resulting in having been fired from nineteen jobs. Minny's most recent employer was Mrs. Walters, mother of Hilly Holbrook. Hilly is the social leader of the community, and head of the Junior League. She is the nemesis of all three main characters.Plot summary

Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan is the daughter of a prominent white family whose cotton farm employs many African-Americans in the fields, as well as in the household. Skeeter has just finished college and comes home with dreams of becoming a writer. Her mother's dream is for Skeeter to get married. Skeeter frequently wonders about the sudden disappearance of Constantine, the maid who raised her. She had been writing to Skeeter while she was away at college and her last letter promised a surprise upon her homecoming. Skeeter's family tells her that Constantine abruptly quit, then went to live with relatives in Chicago. Skeeter does not believe that Constantine would just leave and continually pursues anyone she thinks has information about her to come forth, but no one will discuss the former maid.
The life that Constantine led while being the help to the Phelan family leads Skeeter to the realization that her friends' maids are treated very differently from how the white employers are treated. She decides (with the assistance of a publisher) that she wants to reveal the truth about being a colored maid in Mississippi. Skeeter struggles to communicate with the maids and gain their trust. The dangers of undertaking writing a book about African-Americans speaking out in the South during the early '60s hover constantly over the three women.
Racial issues of overcoming long-standing barriers in customs and laws are experienced by all of the characters. The lives and morals of Southern socialites are also explored.


  • Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan - Recent graduate of the University of Mississippi, has returned to her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi, to find a job and find herself. This leaves her open to seeing her hometown's inequitable treatment of the black domestics, primarily the female maids in the employ of her friends. Skeeter both admires and fears disappointing her mother and her friend Hilly, yet she pursues completing a manuscript called Help[9] with primary assistance from Aibileen, her friend's maid. She also seeks the reason her beloved maid Constantine abruptly left her family's employ.
  • Aibileen Clark - A maid and nanny in Jackson, Mississippi. Aibileen is the first narrator, a middle-aged African American employed by Skeeter's friend Elizabeth Leefolt. Although demure and shy, Aibileen is introspective, thoughtful and strong and writes down her thoughts at night. Her son died before the novel begins and his death leaves a bitterness within her which spurs her to recount to Skeeter her memories and thoughts. Their shared intention is to help change the embedded Racism of Mississippi.
  • Minny Jackson - Aibileen's friend, and a maid who is unable to keep employment because of her bossy demeanor and sharp tongue, Minny's sassy mouth has frequently gotten her into trouble. After she loses her job with Miss Walters (Hilly's mother), Aibileen helps her land another one with Celia Foote, who is considered white trash and is shunned by sorority sisters and socialites like Hilly and Elizabeth. Minny is married with five children and a sixth on the way.
  • Hilly Holbrook - Childhood friend of Skeeter and Elizabeth, the president of the Junior League in Jackson, Mississippi. Roomed with Skeeter at Ole Miss for two years, dropped out to get married. Her husband is running for the senate, and Hilly tries to push through a sanitation initiative so that all the white homeowners have a separate bathroom (outside, like an outhouse) for the black domestics. Hilly is a woman who enjoys controlling others and striking fear into those who dare oppose her. When Skeeter begins working with the maids and subsequently has The Help published, she runs afoul of Hilly.
  • Celia Foote - Newest resident of Jackson, Mississippi, hires Minny because she herself cannot cook. Initially Celia tries to hide Minny's presence from her husband, Johnny Foote. Celia has suffered multiple miscarriages, also hidden from her husband. However, Celia is caring and empathetic towards those she meets such as Minny.
  • Elizabeth Leefolt - employer of Aibileen, best friends with Hilly and Skeeter. Elizabeth is easily led by Hilly. She's also unable to be an affectionate mother to her daughter Mae Mobley, and so Aibileen becomes the child's primary carer, teacher and surrogate mother. Has a child named Ross later in the novel. Aibileen calls him Li'l Man.
  • Charlotte Phelan - Skeeter's demanding, overbearing mother. She has been diagnosed with cancer, but tells Skeeter she has "chosen not to die". Skeeter has never been able to live up to her mother's ideal of how she should look and behave. Their relationship is a tenuous one. Charlotte is concerned with Skeeter being the proper lady, while Skeeter longs to be anything but.
  • Stuart Whitworth - Hilly sets Skeeter up on a blind date with Stuart, a senator's son. While Stuart is handsome, charming, and appears to be smitten with Skeeter (after a disastrous blind date), when he learns of her involvement with the maids' stories, he immediately takes back his engagement ring.
  • Mae Mobley Leefolt - Toddler watched daily by Aibileen and one of Elizabeth Leefolt's two children. Because Mae's mother is unable and unwilling to devote time and attention to her, the child turns to Aibileen, who treats her with tenderness and love. When the novel begins Mae is two years old. By the time the novel ends, Mae is five and in school, old enough to beg Aibileen to stay, after Elizabeth Leefolt fires the maid at Hilly's insistence.
  • Leroy Jackson - Minny's husband. He is abusive toward her and frequently drunk. He is fired from his job when Minny's involvement in the book is suspected.
  • Constantine Bates - Skeeter's beloved childhood maid. Constantine's inexplicable departure from the Phelan household, while Skeeter is away at college, causes Skeeter to confront her mother and triggers her desire to explore the other maids' feelings, thus ultimately leading to her writing The Help.
  • Elaine Stein - Harper & Row Publishing house editor, "Missus Stein" as she's referred to by Skeeter in the book. Inspires Skeeter to write this book.


Ida E. Jones, the national director of the Association of Black Women Historians, released an open statement criticizing The Help in An Open Statement to the Fans of The Help. The letter stated that "[d]espite efforts to market the book and the film as a progressive story of triumph over racial injustice, The Help distorts, ignores, and trivializes the experiences of black domestic workers". The group of scholars accused both the book and the film of insensitive portrayals of African American Vernacular English, a nearly uniform depiction of black men as cruel or absent, and a lack of attention given to the sexual harassment that many black women endured in their white employers’ homes. Jones concluded by saying that "The Association of Black Women Historians finds it unacceptable for either this book or this film to strip black women’s lives of historical accuracy for the sake of entertainment."[10] Contrary to Ms. Jones' criticism, the book does briefly mention sexual assaults against two of the maids: "Angry stories come out, of white men who've tried to touch them. Winnie said she was forced over and over. Cleontine said she fought until his face bled and he never tried again." [11]

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