The Help – Week 1
Aibileen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter all live in the same area, but their lives could not be more different. Aibileen and Minny work as hired help in the homes of their white counterparts. Miss Skeeter, an unfortunate nickname, is the daughter of a cotton farmer, and well-to-do. Jackson, Mississippi is as diverse as they come. “Yes, Ma’am” and “No, Ma’am” are the right words to say, and you do not say anything about your employer. The maids all go home on the same bus, and while they may talk about their days, they are still careful with what they reveal, that is, all except Minny. She is as straight forward as they come, and not afraid to speak her mind, even to her employers. That behavior, while her mother has cautioned her about it, has gotten her into hot water with her employers daughter. Miss Hilly is the President of the Jackson Junior League. What she wants, she gets, and she is not afraid to speak her mind either, especially when she gets in her head that her idea is great and should be taken up throughout the entire state, if not farther.
Miss Skeeter, whose real name is Eugenia, is as equally determined when she sets her mind to something. She is determined to get the answers she is after, and get her own pet project off the ground… but first she has to figure out how to get the hired help to talk to her.
This week we are reading Chapters 1-8
1. 1962 Mississippi is quite different from what we see today, and Kathryn Stockett has written a book which is very different from other novels of the era that you might read. Why do you think her characters resonate with many of us today?
2. There are vast differences between households that even the hired help notice. Minny finds that she cannot get a job after Miss Hilly finishes her vengeance, at least that is, until someone else who does not quite fit into the community hires her. Minny feels out of place in her new job, but why?
3. Miss Skeeter has a great idea for a book after talking to Aibileen one day, but Aibileen refuses to help her with it. She fears for her future with Miss Leefolt if she found out what she was doing. Why? What could be done different to get the story out, but keep the hired help safe?