The Help: Book Critique Essay
Among the themes that Kathryn Stockett presents are race, society and justice, and judgment. As a demonstration of the theme of justice and judgment, the book presents it as an idea usually delivered in the South Park-style. In fact, this is not a novel of fun that needs to have a villain. Hilly is made to consume poopie, and justification for the punishment is presented, “But I gave her what she deserves! She is wailing now, and I feel a real cold fear” (Stockett 4). Similarly, the race is not a neutral concept in Kathryn’s text. One of the segregated society in Mississippi. The presence of strict rules, norms, and legislation that bound the black towns and that hinders the white population that wishes to cross the color line evidence this theme. Excerpts such as, “A bill that requires every white home to have a separate bathroom for the colored help,” illustrate the existence of racism (9). As exemplified by punitive racial laws, the theme of social class and society also manifests itself clearly in the text.
The nature and variety of language used by Kathryn are one of the aspects that make the book so intruding and appealing. The fact that she was a white woman from Mississippi makes her speak boldly. Among her narrators are two African black women. The use of an African American dialect to convey their thoughts. As argued by linguists, the language used in the book is not any different from “the standard English.”
Most characters in the story are blacks. Certainly, the prevailing segregation affects them emotionally, socially and psychologically. A character such as Aibileen Clark, a black maid staying in Mrs. Leefolt’s home, displays a positive emotional disposition in the novel. Though she is a black who has lost a son, she is still able to demonstrate love to the children of her boss. Therefore, the characters develop to overcome the challenges that they face throughout the story. She says, “I just … I want things to be better for the kids. But it’s a sorry fact that it’s still a white woman doing this” (100). On the other hand, Minnie is a black woman, also a maid, who has worked throughout her life. She has a character of having a big mouth, and she is a superb cook. Besides she is unable to suppress her strong opinions. Perhaps this is why she suffers physically from the physical assault from her husband. She confesses, “He was beating me with his belt” (137).
Though most of the themes have been covered exhaustively, that of provincialism seems to be the major underlying one in the story. A reader can observe that the white women characters had never left their hometown. They never confront the social benefits of their ancestors or parents. It is because in most cases they have not separated for a long time to gain any perspective about the lifestyle that people appear to imitate in Jackson. However, Skeeter leaves home and returns. She becomes the only character who objectively examines the social interaction between white and black maids, female employers. Therefore, the reader finds some link to view her differently and positively regarding her rationality and conduct.
Works Cited Stockett, Kathryn. The Help. New York: Amy Einhorn Books, 2009. Print.