Thursday, September 15, 2011

Introduction to The Help

Kathryn Stockett's The Help is written in first person taking the point of view of three main characters in the first six chapters of the novel. Three women from very different backgrounds who each have their own opinions on life in Jackson, Mississippi.

Aibileen works for Miss Leefolt as her housemaid and raises her daughter Mae Mobley. Aibileen questions why her employer refuses to acknowledge her child, Mae. She leaves everything to Aibileen, ignoring every tear and scream. When Miss Hilly, one of Miss Leefolt's best friends, uncomfortably has to use the same bathroom as the maid the incandescent light dims on the hope of being equally treated.

Minny works as a cook and is renowned as the best in the city of Jackson. Her sharp tongue threatens unemployment but the daughter of her employer brings the threat to life. Accused of stealing, Minny is fired from her cooking job. Struggling to support her family, she finds a job teaching Miss Celia how to cook while also cleaning her house. Only one stipulation - Miss Celia's husband cannot learn of Minny's employment. Minny begins to question this as Miss Celia turns out to be a strange woman. Seeming to be agoraphobic, Miss Celia will not leave the house. Some days she doesn't even get out of bed. Stockett piques the interest of readers with the mystery that surrounds Miss Celia and what Minny will put with for more than decent pay.

Miss Skeeter is a childhood friend of Miss Leefolt and has just returned to Jackson from college. She longs for a writing job and after an inspiring letter from a respected editor applies to the Jackson Journal, writing a cleaning column. One problem, she's never cleaned anything in her life. This pushes Miss Skeeter to form a unexpected friendship with the maids because they help her writer her column. Could this lead to a topic that turns the heads of editors?

With only one hundred pages under my belt, I find myself carrying the novel everywhere with me hoping that I get a chance to read just one more page. If you have one more slot open on your reading list, jot this one down, bump it up to number one, and read it with me.

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