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Old 04-17-2010, 01:20 PM   #91
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though i was disgusted by Elizabeth becoming pregnant again, i don't necessarily think she really had a choice in the matter - meaning, i don't think she made a conscious decision to bring another child into the world that she intended to neglect. i think she was just doing what was expected of her (by her friends, her family & society at large), and she thought that she was an excellent parent. Spoiler: This becomes clear at the end of the book, when she refuses to believe that Chapter 2 is about her - she truly thinks she is like everyone else in raising her kids, including having the bulk of their care done by maids.

i actually finished the book today, and i too thought it was quite good. i think my favorite characters would actually have to be Minny or Skeeter; i like the way Minny speaks her mind and i can relate to Skeeter's doubts about herself. i also liked the character of Miss Celia Foote.
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:17 PM   #92
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Hiya! I am! We live in Oxford, and my mom lives up here now, too.



That bothered me, too. But, if you think about what was expected of them, which was nothing, I'm not at all surprised their high school/college sorority type relationships continued into adulthood. They weren't expected to work, and had hired someone else to raise their kids, cook and clean the house. All that's left for them is talking on the phone, shopping, and being in all these little clubs, just like teenagers. I think they were treated like children by society, and by their husbands, and so they acted like it.
I cannot agree more with this post. They really do act like children and are even treated that way by their families, husbands, and even society. All of their little clubs are just another bit of evidence supporting such a fact.

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Hi Everyone - this is my first post although I have been in from the beginning. I was born in '51 so remember the 60's well although not as an adult. Born in rural Iowa I have a feel for country life but moved to Denver at age 12 so also have a surburban background.

Although birth control has existed for century's, reliable methods such as the pill were not readily available until the mid 60's, and even then most women were discouraged from taking the pill by their Doctors. (Abortion was also still illegal.) There is nothing about Miss Leefolt that I find likeable, but I can understand getting pregnant and having to act pleased about it due to social mores'.

I am enjoying the book very much, and only have 40 pages to go (no spoilers coming). I grew up in "milk-toast" suburbia and never meet a black person until college. I was fortunate in a way because my parent's never discussed race so I was not raised with an opinion, but had the luxury of learning first hand that all people are truly the same. Later I learned my parents had a problem with mixing races - but that is a different and long story. This is when I understood that we can be taught hatred just as we hopefully learn love and tolerance. What the children in this book are learning from their families vs from the Help must have been very confusing for them.

Can't wait to finish the book - I find myself hopeful yet scared about what is coming next!
I really enjoyed reading your thoughts here and hope to see more very soon. I feel that I can relate to your family and how you grew up. There was only one black family in my town when I was young so I can relate. I also feel badly for the children in the novel. I love how Aibileen wants to shield Mae Mobley from it all.

I'm also scared about what is coming up next. I really felt fear for our characters during the last few chapters and am not sure what to think about the second half.

I'm off to keep reading! New deadlines were posted earlier today!
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Old 04-17-2010, 09:45 PM   #93
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I can't read anything yet... (on here...)

My book is on hold at the library until Thursday...
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Old 04-18-2010, 03:19 PM   #94
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That's okay, Michelle. You know where to find us!
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Old 04-18-2010, 03:39 PM   #95
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The more I read, the more I realize that I am fearful for our beloved characters. Violence and violent acts upon others are becoming prominent events in our novel. For me, this really hit home during our last section, and I thought I'd share.

Leroy concerns me quite a bit. Although we have not "witnessed" any abuse on his part, Aibileen makes it clear in Chapter 14 that he has raised a hand to Minny before.

Miny had that big bruise on her arm cause that's what Leroy do when he come home from work. He push her around (183).

This surprised me as I see Minny as a very strong-willed character. I would never expect her to tolerate physical abuse on the part of her husband even in this time period. Instead, she seems to be accepting of it or even embarrassed. This was clear when Skeeter attempted to discuss Leroy and his view on the civil rights movement. Minny quickly dismissed the conversation and even hid the bruise on her arm.

Later on in the chapter, the extent to which the "white lady" would go to get even with a black woman was described. Aibileen discusses it in detail both focusing on the mental and physical abuse that comes into play. She ends her description with the warning that "the white lady don't ever forget. And she ain't gone stop till you dead" (188). This bone-chilling commentary could be foreshading something to come, but I sure hope not.

I feel like we have grown with these characters, and I am becoming more concerned about their welfare. When we encounter the scene involving the death of NAACP leader Medgar Evers, I found myself sweating at the brow as Aibileen raced through the backyards and alleyways towards Minny's house. I was so worried that she, too, was going to be attacked. Once Aibileen reached her home, it became all too clear how bad things had become when Minny whispered, "I wish Leroy was home" (196). Knowing full well how abusive this man can be, made me realize that she rather put herself in that type of danger than one involving the white man. Danger in the home, therefore, was more acceptable than that which was taking place on one's front porch. Again, I found myself analyzing the role of women as a result of this fact. The black women, in particular, suffer through so many hardships here and still press on with their daily lives. It makes me wonder if Miss Leefolt or any of her companions could survive if they switched places with Aibileen and her friends.

Violence, whether in or outside of the home, is traumatic and raw. The fact that the author was able to convey this message without sacrificing the warmness of the story is brilliant. She truly has a gift.

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Old 04-19-2010, 06:20 AM   #96
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Had some uninterrupted reading time yesterday waiting for my DD15.

Two things occurred to me as I sat there reading - first while I don't know how accurate the portrayl of these women are - this is the first time I have heard the story of civil rights from this perspective. The painful position these womean are in, raising, caring and loving children who grow up to treat them so disrespectully.

The second thing that struck me was how strong these women are, to agree to put their lives in jeopardy to give voice to their experience.

If I find some more uninterrupted time this week, I hope I can finish the book. I hate putting it down.

Thanks Nikki for organizing this, I have not been able to read for several months and I am so enjoying reading again.
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Old 04-19-2010, 10:16 AM   #97
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I finished the book this weekend and all I can say is OMG! I have had so many emotions during this reading.

As an African American female, I have been saddened at the telling of America's past. I could not imagine living in times such as these, and honestly, I can not believe how far we seem to have come in 2010.

Spoiler:
I discussed the book with my husband and he shared that his Great Aunt worked for a family in Mississippi for many years until she became ill with Alzheimers and his family moved her to Milwaukee, "up North", to care for her. Upon her passing, the children in the family she cared for, now adults, sent for her body to be brought back to Mississippi for her funeral and paid all expenses. My husband said that "they loved her" and wanted to show her the respect she was due. All I could think was, how sad, she was shown respect and love in her death and not during her life when it would have mattered. This really made me think of Constantine. She sacrificed so much to care for and love Skeeter's family, even her own child. She died in Chicago, in a distant place, away from the family that she truly loved. Very sad.

That being said, I am truly enjoying this discussion and can not wait for our next reading.

I love this Book Club!
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Old 04-19-2010, 11:53 AM   #98
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That's it! I just cannot believe it!!! Elizabeth is....PREGNANT?!!

I found myself screaming these words outloud the other day. On Page 157, Elizabeth reveals that she is again expecting.

Now, don't get me wrong, pregnancy can be a great thing. However, I am shuddering at the fact that Miss Leefolt is going to have another child when she doesn't show an ounce of affection towards her first one. Aibileen raises Mae Mobley; Elizabeth can barely stand to be in the same room as her. She smacks her on the legs for things so trivial as interrupting her phone conversation. Why on Earth is she now putting on a facade and pretending she loves children? Why would she get pregnant again?

What are your thoughts? Can we look down upon Miss Leefolt for getting pregnant again knowing full well that she would not care for the child? Is she just a product of the time period and social class and thus her behavior excusable?
I could not believe it, either! I have often asked why people who do not even like children will have one, let alone more than one. I do not think that just because you "should" do something means that you have to. I think that it was a shame that she would go through this again.

Again, this makes me sad for Aibileen and the others. They are expected to "mother" these children without respect or appreciation from the biological mothers. Just burns me up!
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Old 04-19-2010, 12:41 PM   #99
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Y'all, I am really happy I got this book, as I am anxious to continue reading it. But I got thru the 1st chapter & was having a really hard time following with it. I think it's the "slang" language that I'm not used to reading, is what's getting me. I'll get thru the book eventually. I'm a slow reader to begin with.

I hope everyone is enjoying it, and Thank you Nikkibell for starting this thread! It's getting me out of the typical "romance" novels that I have been reading.

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Old 04-19-2010, 12:50 PM   #100
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That's it! I just cannot believe it!!! Elizabeth is....PREGNANT?!!

Because of the time period our book is set in and the social class Miss Elizabeth enjoys, pregnancy was considered to be a normal right of passage. It's obvious that it will be celebrated as we move through the remainder of the text. Even Hilly rejoices during this scene. Still, I find myself troubled by the fact that Elizabeth will repeat the cycle we can only predict happened with Mae Mobley ---- celebrate pregnancy, give birth, and quickly turn over parenthood duties to "the help." Even though this was relatively acceptable during the 1960s, I still find it irksome. What are your thoughts? Can we look down upon Miss Leefolt for getting pregnant again knowing full well that she would not care for the child? Is she just a product of the time period and social class and thus her behavior excusable?
OMG, I couldn't believe she is pregnant again either. On one hand, I was thinking "what are you thinking?????" On the other, yes, I do feel she is just a product of her environment, and staying home and having babies is what she is supposed to do, never mind who actually raised the children.

A bit of my background - I grew up in the 70s in a suburb of Philadelphia. I went to a Catholic elementary school with a class that mostly stayed the same, with a few minor changes year to year. Some friends of mine belonged to a community pool - membership was whites only (this was in the late 70s/early 80s). We had 1 African American girl in our class who was our friend. One of the girls, whose family had a pool membership, annually had a slumber party for her summer birthday, then we all went to the pool. I can still remember having to send this one girl home before we went swimming.

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Old 04-19-2010, 07:13 PM   #101
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Had some uninterrupted reading time yesterday waiting for my DD15.

Two things occurred to me as I sat there reading - first while I don't know how accurate the portrayl of these women are - this is the first time I have heard the story of civil rights from this perspective. The painful position these womean are in, raising, caring and loving children who grow up to treat them so disrespectully.

The second thing that struck me was how strong these women are, to agree to put their lives in jeopardy to give voice to their experience.

If I find some more uninterrupted time this week, I hope I can finish the book. I hate putting it down.

Thanks Nikki for organizing this, I have not been able to read for several months and I am so enjoying reading again.

I found myself having these exact same feelings, Anne. I can't believe the hear these women put into raising the children who will turn around and act just as disrespectfully as their mothers one day. It's saddening.

I am so glad you and everyone else is enjoying the book club and novel. I am too. Keep up the great discussions. I really love reading them, and they add so much to our overall experience.
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Old 04-19-2010, 10:30 PM   #102
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What are your thoughts? Can we look down upon Miss Leefolt for getting pregnant again knowing full well that she would not care for the child? Is she just a product of the time period and social class and thus her behavior excusable? [/COLOR]
I, like many others here, got mad at her initially however that was how things were done then. The women stayed home 'barefoot and pregnant' while the Help raised their children. In her eyes, she did nothing wrong to Mae Mobley. She hired someone to take care of her which she probably thought was the best thing to do. And it wasn't as if she had friends or her husband telling her that she needed to do this or that for her own kids or spend time with them. So if no one ever tells her what she's doing isn't right is she every going to change it?? Probably not.

As for your thought on the ladies in the book switching places with The Help and could they survive??? Maybe maybe not. Depends on the situation. Just think...it's just as easy for a white woman to be phsyically abused by her husband and not say anything or think it's ok because that's her husband. That's a matter of man vs women I think instead of black vs white. However I seriously doubt that those women could trade places with the help when it came to raising their kids or cooking or cleaning.
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Old 04-20-2010, 06:56 AM   #103
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Finished the book last night!

I was not disappointed.

Will wait for the group to finish before including the final chapters in the discussions.

Hurry up!!!
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Old 04-20-2010, 10:44 AM   #104
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Hi everyone, I read the book in January and loved it then. I was very excited when I heard on the podcast that this would be the choice for the bookclub since I thought it was one of the best books I ever read.

Since I am from Germany, I find it extremely interesting to read the comments from people who live where the book took place or even lived during that time frame.

Sorry that I don't have much to contribute, but I wanted to say that I love reading the discussion going on!
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Old 04-20-2010, 11:05 AM   #105
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I finished the Help about a month ago and I did enjoy it quite a bit but it made me very uncomfortable to read.

First of all, I found the dialect used for the women who were "the Help" very uncomfortable to read. It seemed almost offensive that the author would choose to use language that made the women seem uneducated and intellectually inferior to the white women. I may be remembering incorrectly but I think she used that dialect even for the domestic help who were college educated. Did that bother anyone else?

I also find it just shocking that this world existed and while I know that this racial divide still exists in many many people's hearts and in their everyday lives, I find it just shocking. I'm lucky to have been born after the civil rights movement and in the northeast so racial segregation was never a part of my life. I just can't believe that people could act this way and find it normal. I know that racism exists all over the place but I hope that it's not this extreme anywhere anymore. It's hard for me to know though since I'm white, college educated, and living in a fairly wealthy suburb, I'm probably in a cocoon that doesn't reflect the experience of a great slice of the population.

This book was passed around among the women in my office and just about everybody really enjoyed the novel. The only person who didn't was the one African American woman who took it home to read. She returned it after only a couple of chapters saying that the book just wasn't for her. I didn't ask her why (at that point I hadn't read the book yet myself) but now I have to wonder if she was uncomfortable with the subject matter/content of the book or if she just didn't love the writing and there's nothing deeper to her rejection of the book.

I'm also glad that I live in an era that's more friendly to women. Don't get me wrong, I complain all the time about having to go to work everyday and pretend that I'd love to be a stay-at-home wife (no kids for me) but really, I'm happy that I have the option to work or stay at home as I see fit. If my entire life revolved around keeping house and worrying about what the neighbors thought I'd be utterly miserable. I'm not a great housekeeper, I live in casual clothes, and I hate gardening and joining clubs. Sounds like I would not do well in the 1960s South. The only domestic thing I like is cooking and if this book is accurate, the women in the South didn't cook -- they let "the Help" do it!

A few posts up there were comments about who should be cast in the movie. I'm having trouble coming up with Hollywood women who are young enough to play the characters who are all in their early 20s. The only one that jumps out for me is Scarlet Johanssen to play woman Minny works for -- sorry can't think of her name at the moment and I don't have the book anymore.
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