Articles, questions, and reading suggestions for discussion groups and fans of The Help by Kathryn Stockett.
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- Q&A: Kathryn Stocket, Author of The Help
Time Magazine, November 11, 2009
- 'The Help' Author Says Criticism Makes Her 'Cringe'
NPR's All Things Considered, December 23, 2009
- Racial Insults and Quiet Bravery in 1960s Mississippi
The New York Times, February 18, 2009
- Mississippi Slow Burning
California Literary Review, February 8, 2009
- The Maid's Tale: Kathryn Stockett Examines Slavery and Racism in America's Deep South
The Telegraph, July 16, 2009
Some books which may contextualize The Help:
(From the publisher)
1. Who was your favorite character? Why?
2. What do you think motivated Hilly? On one hand she’s so unpleasant to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes she can’t control her. But she’s a wonderful mother. Do you think you can be a good mother but at the same time a deeply flawed person?
3. Like Hilly, Skeeter’s mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter – and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives to Constantine is untenable. And most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter’s mother is a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Why?
4. How much of a person’s character do you think is shaped by the times in which they live?
5. Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she can get married, and it’s not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?
6. Do you think Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?
7. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?
8. From the perspective of a 21st century reader, the hair shellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Looking back on your past, what’s the most ridiculous beauty regimen you ever underwent?
9. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
10. Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white? Have you heard stories of someone who put away their valuable jewelry before their nanny comes – so they trust this person to look after their child, but not their diamond rings?
11. What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?
If you liked The Help, you might enjoy the following novels.
The Secret Life of Bees
Publication Date: 2003-01-28
Set in South Carolina in 1964,The Secret Life of Beestells the story of Lily Owens, whose life has been shaped around the blurred memory of the afternoon her mother was killed. When Lily's fierce-hearted "stand-in mother," Rosaleen, insults three of the town's fiercest racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina-a town that holds the secret to her mother's past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love-a story that women will share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.
The Queen of Palmyra
Publication Date: 2010-04-27
In the turbulent southern summer of 1963, Millwood's white population steers clear of "Shake Rag," the black section of town. Young Florence Forrest is one of the few who crosses the line.
Publication Date: 2008-03-04
In Jordan's prize-winning debut, prejudice takes many forms, both subtle and brutal. It is 1946, and city-bred Laura McAllan is trying to raise her children on her husband's Mississippi Delta farm-a place she finds foreign and frightening. In the midst of the family's struggles, two young men return from the war to work the land. Jamie McAllan, Laura's brother-in-law, is everything her husband is not-charming, handsome, and haunted by his memories of combat. Ronsel Jackson, eldest son of the black sharecroppers who live on the McAllan farm, has come home with the shine of a war hero. But no matter his bravery in defense of his country, he is still considered less than a man in the Jim Crow South. It is the unlikely friendship of these brothers-in-arms that drives this powerful novel to its inexorable conclusion. The men and women of each family relate their versions of events and we are drawn into their lives as they become players in a tragedy on the grandest scale.
We Are All Welcome Here
Publication Date: 2006-04-04
The bestselling author of "The Art of Mending" and "The Year of Pleasures" follows the story of three women in 1965, Tupelo, Mississippi, each struggling against overwhelming odds for her own kind of freedom.
The Kitchen House
Publication Date: 2010-02-02
When a white servant girl violates the order of plantation society, she unleashes a tragedy that exposes the worst and best in the people she has come to call her family. The Kitchen House is a tragic story of page-turning suspense, exploring the meaning of family, where love and loyalty prevail.