Bruce Hartford has added a 4th comment to The Help discussion by Penny Patch at http://www.crmvet.org/comm/
Also, since Ruby Sales mentions Alice Walker's comments.........
The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. Langston Hughes who befriended me when I was very young, just beginning to write, exhibited a quality I also have: I deeply prefer to say nothing about another’s work if I dislike it. In fact, decades ago I wrote a short review of another writer’s work that hurt her feelings. Realizing this, I gave up writing reviews.
I put off listening to The Help thinking I wouldn’t like it; that the story would awaken pain (especially from my years as an activist living in Jackson, Mississippi, the novel’s setting) from which perhaps I had not sufficiently recovered. My own mother and father and grandparents before them were “the help” to generations of racist white southerners. My mother especially took on a job as maid and caretaker of a white woman’s house and children from seven in the morning to seven at night, every day but Sunday. Leaving her own home and family bereft of her light-filled presence, attention and love. A robbery of guidance and grace, a theft of security.
But when I began listening to The Help, I found myself seeing my mother’s sacrifice and love at an even greater depth than I had before. By the time I finished the novel, late in the night, and after many tears and some laughter, I felt immensely comforted by the reminder that our mothers and fathers who basically re-enslaved themselves to feed, clothe and educate their children, also did their best to love the children they were forced to tend, thus keeping themselves human in a situation in which the most self-destructive hatred might have developed. Destroying all our lives.
I used to wonder if any white child in the South who received the love of the great souls forced to tend them would ever develop enough soul of his or her own to rise in their defense. Or even to an understanding, however limited or imperfect, of their silenced, hidden sacrifice. Kathryn Stockett has done so.
I appreciate The Help for its healing response to a lifetime (really lifetimes) of injustice and hurt. And for its teaching of solidarity with the intimately oppressed.
As a film, it too could move us forward into the necessary awareness humans must continue to develop: that it is our denial of ourselves as family, with one another, and with all of creation, that threatens our planetary existence.
The readers of this audio book are brilliant. Their voices delightfully true.