The DIS Book Club Discussion Group: Round 2 - The Help

Discussion in 'The DIS Unplugged Podcast' started by *NikkiBell*, Apr 4, 2010.

  1. DisneySunflower

    DisneySunflower Mouseketeer

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    I am enjoying this book! Every time I try to put it down, I find that I have read another chapter and can not stop. :goodvibes

    I am also enjoying this discussion. Very good questions and very good sharing.

    :thumbsup2
     
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  3. Mississippianna

    Mississippianna Still loving Disney World like a 6-year-old

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    Well, I stayed up until 2 a.m. to finish this book last night, I couldn't put it down. I'm glad I bought the full version on Kindle for iPhone, too. I have to give the hardcover I got to my mom. She was born in '53 and grew up in Jackson. Though she was barely a teenager at the time of this book, I can't wait to hear her perspective.

    I can remember, when I moved up to middle school in Jackson, going home and asking my mom why a black girl had asked to touch my hair. I didn't understand at all what that was about. She said, even then, they probably came from a school or neighborhood which was still all black despite integration and may never have sat beside a white girl in class before. I had come from an elementary school that I'd guess was about 50/50, and I had never before imagined all schools weren't like that.
     
  4. maroo

    maroo DIS Veteran

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    Wow! Taking pictures would be a great idea!!

    I will see if I can do that! I need to relisten to the book and see if I can come up with some good shots. :)

    Are you still living here in MS? If so, hello neighbor!! :wave2:
     
  5. Eeyores#1Fan

    Eeyores#1Fan DIS Veteran

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    Hi All! Getting in late but have read the book so I hope you don't mind if I still participate. My book club just discussed this book last Fri. April 9th..:goodvibes...very good discussion too.

    Actually even though this book takes place a few decades ago, I believe people still have these 'silent conversations' today. For example, being a women working for a Networking company around Engineers all day and NOT being an Engineer myself I always seem to find myself in 'conversations' where I'm looking at people and asking without speaking 'So am I beneath you in smarts and skill level simply because I'm a women that's not an engineer???' It always leads to them either trying to back peddle or just walking away. :rotfl: If they do walk away they always try to explain themselves later. I wouldn't say it's resolved but at that point I know where I stand with that individual and our relationship is forever changed.

    I do believe that the role of housewife was portrayed accurately for the time period however it does bother me that women acted so highschoolish and followed the popular girls rules and demands. I was always the outsider...didn't buy into doing what others wanted just for the sake of being their friends so I'm sure it would have been hard for me to live in that time. But I imagine that it would be hard for any of us to live in that time given how some things have changed. I say some because racisim still exists, especially for women. If I had to identify with anyone it would be with Minny in the way she speaks her mind but she's also aware of when she needs to bite her tounge whether she does or not! That's the only part of me I see in her though. I see a little of me in Abileen too in the way she cares for Mae Mobley. My life is ALL about my girls! In writing this I think there's probably a little of several of the women in all of us (the women participating in this discussion anyway...lol).

    Yes, even today I'm in situations where I'm alienated due to my skin color or gender. At work, at cheer competitions, out and about. Certain times my race plays a factor because there are still small parts of NC where a few people still have that mentality. How do I cope? Ignore it. I can't live my life to change other people. If they don't want to be around me or talk to me so be it. As long as they don't attack me I let it go. Live and let live.
     
  6. Hankshouse

    Hankshouse Mouseketeer

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    First, I am so loving the posts from everyone! I read this book last month with my "other" book club and still have tears in my eyes just thinking about it. I found it so moving on all sorts of levels. Although this story is fiction, characters like Abilene and Skeeter were brave women, taking great risks to change their piece of the world.

    I am the caucasian mom to two amazing children, my son (age 12) who was adopted in Russia and is Asian and my daughter (age 9), who was adopted domestically and is Biracial (African American and Caucasian) and who is also physically disabled. So, you can imagine how this tale struck a chord in my heart. In my family, we are colorblind. This time period in our country would never have "allowed" a family like mine to exist! Our nation has come very far. But, is it perfect? Absolutely not. Have I felt alienated because of skin color, etc.? Sadly, there was one moment that stands out very clearly in my memory where a neighbor made some shocking comments in front of my son, regarding his own experiences in Vietnam. My reaction was utter disbelief that someone could be so racist. My reaction was to shut up and walk away and I never pursued anything other than a polite relationship with that family again. Living in a cosmopolitan suburb of New York, you just don't "expect" those kinds of comments to come out of someone's mouth anymore and certainly not to someone's face. In hindsight, I would have liked to kick him right in the ...!!!

    I do have to relate one funny incident though, nothing to do with my kids. My husband is British and on our first "road trip" to visit family in Miami, we drove from NYC. I gave him strict instructions on the way down, that if we pulled off our route in some of the more remote parts of our trip - to let ME do the talking...I didn't want any trouble from people who picked up on his accent and would make him an "easy target"....so I guess I had my own prejudices regarding southerners vs. northerners :rotfl: I'm happy to report after multiple trips down south, my attitude has changed.
     
  7. Mississippianna

    Mississippianna Still loving Disney World like a 6-year-old

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    Hiya! :wave2: 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.
     
  8. TSWJan78

    TSWJan78 DIS Veteran Approved Advertiser

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    Hi Everyone,

    I know I have been quiet and I am sure I iwll add more as we go on but I had to share with you that I downloaded the Audio version to my IPhone... I am so engrossed with this book that while at Costco I bought the hardcover so I could read it at home and not just have to listen. It seems like forever since I have actually read a book and I love to read. Although the audio is great I needed that feeling of holding it and smelling it as Julie would say.

    I am loving the fact the Skeeter is being so rebelious, so daring and sees nothing wrong with what she wants to do, but sees it as completly normal. She would in no way describe herself at this point as a free spirit or be looking to break new gound it is just in her. That fire I think we all have inside but surpress sometimes.
     
  9. robind

    robind DIS Veteran

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    I have very much enjoyed this book, it is not something I would normally have picked up, but it came highly recommended so I'm glad to have the opportunity to discuss it with this group.

    I find that I am comparing these women to my mother. She was about their age at that time period. I like to think she was like Skeeter. She was born in the rural south (VA) and I know her mother was very racist up until the day she died. However, my mother was always concidered "different" because she didn't think the same way as the other members of her family.

    My dad was in the Air Force so we moved around alot, most the east coast. I've always wondered if she 'thought' differently then they did because she got out of that environment, or if she got out of that environment because she 'thought' different.

    Personally, I can identify with Skeeter and Nikki's comments as well. I'm in my 40's and never married and a lot of my extended family does not understand why I never married. Although they were more than happy that I was willing to take care of my grandmother for years while they had their families.
     
  10. *NikkiBell*

    *NikkiBell* The WDW Merchandise Walking Bible Moderator

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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.

    "Well, while we wait, I have some news," Elizabeth says and I recognize the look on her face already, the secretive nod, one hand on her stomach. "I'm pregnant." She smiles, her mouth trembling a little.

    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?

    Documented birth control methods date back to the early 1800s; some reports suggest even earlier (Yale-New Haven Teachers Institute, 2010). I even remember learning about Medieval birth control methods in college during a literature class. The question is what role do they play in The Help?

    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?
     
  11. dreamlinda

    dreamlinda "dance to the music in your heart"

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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!



     
  12. kafitty

    kafitty <font color=purple>yep, that almost sent snot flyi

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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.
     
  13. *NikkiBell*

    *NikkiBell* The WDW Merchandise Walking Bible Moderator

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    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.

    :welcome: 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!
     
  14. Tink rules

    Tink rules <font color=teal>The kids in my family sometimes t

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    I can't read anything yet... (on here...)

    My book is on hold at the library until Thursday... :headache:
     
  15. *NikkiBell*

    *NikkiBell* The WDW Merchandise Walking Bible Moderator

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    That's okay, Michelle. You know where to find us! :)
     
  16. *NikkiBell*

    *NikkiBell* The WDW Merchandise Walking Bible Moderator

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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.

     
  17. AnneR

    AnneR DIS Veteran

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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.
     
  18. DisneySunflower

    DisneySunflower Mouseketeer

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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. :) :confused: :sad1: :scared: :eek:

    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. :goodvibes

    I love this Book Club! :love:
     
  19. DisneySunflower

    DisneySunflower Mouseketeer

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    I could not believe it, either! :scared1: 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. :sad2:

    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! :furious:
     
  20. Kellygurlz74

    Kellygurlz74 Kellygurlz74

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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.

    Kell
     
  21. wildfan1473

    wildfan1473 DIS Veteran

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    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. :sad2:
     

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