The Help, a famous novel written by Kathryn Stockett, which soon also became a movie, tells the story of how African Americans in the United States experienced racism. Specifically, it demonstrates shameful, humiliating and unbearable living conditions of black maids in the 1960s, the civil rights era, in Jackson, Mississippi. As of this, I think that racism is the most prominent theme, in both novel and movie. It is a very big topic since this theme can take different directions and forms and also be seen from different perspectives for the simple reason that the characters have different opinions about racism and what is socially right or wrong.
As I already mentioned, the characters have different judgment and beliefs. Still, most of the white characters, but clearly with the exception of Eugenia, also known for her nickname Skeeter, are racists. As well as there are other characters that are just carried along by everyone else, which help them maintain a social status, another important theme in the story. There is also the character of Celia who is not totally aware of her surroundings and doesn’t live upon social standards. She treats Minny like a friend, whereas Hilly, a white woman who believes in inequality for blacks, treat them with disdain, disgust, and cruelty.
One of the main characters and the only white that does not agree on how the maids are treated poorly, Skeeter, is an inspiring writer who clearly sees and understand the poor and racist environment that the maids live every day. Therefore, she finds the opportunity to make a change by writing a book from the perspective of the maids about their daily work and the way they are treated, something no one has ever done before. For her assistance, Aibileen and Minny tell her their stories. At first, they were hesitant to help Skeeter, because they were afraid of what the consequences might be. After several events against the maids continued happening they became jaded and agreed to help with skeeters story. All of the other maids also joined and their stories were also heard and included in Skeeters project.
The maids took a huge risk agreeing to be a part of Skeeter's book, but they still made it possible. As the story unfolds, some small but significant changes start to happen; and the writing of Skeeter's book made an influence on this. The maids lose their fear and some relationships between the white and the black open up, for example, Minnie and Celia. The writing of Skeeter's book helped the black maids free themselves a little and also altered everyone's point of view. As it says on the film poster: “Change begins with a whisper”, referring to how the change began by Skeeter first quietly addressing her ideas and her intention to make a change, by then talking to the maid and publishing the book.
As the story ends, we can tell how this well-written novel by Kathryn Stockett, adapted into a great movie, portrays different relationships between white and black American. It perfectly shows the evidence of how there was a well-defined line between the black maids and the white, in some cases. In conclusion, the constant struggles shown in the story reinforce the significant theme of racism.
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