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

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

  1. *NikkiBell*

    *NikkiBell* The WDW Merchandise Walking Bible Moderator

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    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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  3. Eeyores#1Fan

    Eeyores#1Fan DIS Veteran

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    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. :rotfl:
     
  4. AnneR

    AnneR DIS Veteran

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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!!!
     
  5. Flossbolna

    Flossbolna Sea days are just so relaxing!

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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! :goodvibes
     
  6. hmonkeyruns

    hmonkeyruns Mouseketeer

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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.
     
  7. Hankshouse

    Hankshouse Mouseketeer

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    Thought some of us may be interested to see who People magazine suggests for the cast of The Help...

    http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20349017,00.html

    I completely agree with their choice for Minnie! Heard a rumor that Whoopi Goldberg was being considered as well...but the article makes no mention...hmmmm.
     
  8. LMO429

    LMO429 DIS Veteran

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    I went to a live taping of The View a couple of weeks ago. Whoopi herself said during a commerical break that she is in talks to be in The Help.

    I wonder how this book will transform on the big screen?
     
  9. mainegal

    mainegal <font color=purple>I am becoming very good at maki

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    I finally got a copy from the library.

    Can't wait to start reading and catch up.
     
  10. Merry Mousketeer

    Merry Mousketeer <font color=blue>I've got a lot above my ears <img

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    It appears I have caught up with the group since I read last night that Elizabeth is pregnant again. I read each night to relax, but now I have to force myself to put this book aside and go to sleep because I find it so compelling.

    This story reminds me of when I first learned of racism when I was in the 3rd or 4th grade.

    I grew up in a San Francisco neighborhood composed mainly of Western Europeans from England, Ireland and Italy and Eastern Europeans who had survived the Holocaust. Mixed in were a few minorities but the neighborhood was predominantly white.

    I attended a Catholic elementary school in the 60s, so we were still speaking Latin at mass, the priests were all from Ireland and kept their interaction with us limited to celebrating mass for the school on Fridays and distributing report cards in classrooms twice a year, and the good Sisters were still in traditional 15th century-style habits. Each evening the Sisters took their usual walk in herds through the neighborhood to make sure their Catholic children were getting along well in public and to read the magazines at the corner pharmacy. Our parish was slow to conform to Vatican II guidelines when they went into effect and no one seemed to mind.

    My circle of friends I hung out with in the schoolyard, in Boy Scouts and on our school sports teams looked like it had been cast for a TV show - it was that "perfect" balance - 1 Asian, 1 Black, and 2 or 3 white Catholic boys. We all got along well. The Sisters were pro-civil rights and promoted harmony within the school and on the outside. We all got along well. Or so I thought.

    One day our black friend was distributing party invitations to either his annual Halloween or birthday party, I forget which, to our crowd. Before he handed me an invitation, he asked "Are you my friend?" I told him I thought this was a stupid question since I always share a pup tent with him on our Scout camping trips and put up with his snoring and help him study in the library after school. He smiled, handed me an invitation and trotted off.

    That evening during dinner my mother was rooting through my school bookbag, as usual, looking for all the notes I had forgotten to give her from school, sports, Scouts, etc. when she found the party invitation stuffed in a zippered pocket. While she went to write the party date down on our kitchen calendar, I told my parents and little brother about the question my friend made me answer before he would give me the invitation. My parents stopped what they were doing and looked at each other. Now I knew that look. Quickly, I ransacked my memory trying to remember what I had done wrong that day and tried to glance at the crumpled pile of papers from my bookbag to see if Sister had hidden a note to my parents in my bag. Experience had taught me that the look my parents gave each other meant I was in trouble. All I could do was wait.

    After dinner my father told me he wanted to speak with me in the living room. I knew my time had come and I was almost relieved. He sat in the typical big overstuffed armchair all dads had at that time and I sat on the couch. My father then explained to me why my only black friend of the only black family in the school might have had to ask his white classmates if they were his friends. My father later said that my eyes grew as large as my mother's teacup saucers when I realized what he was saying. That evening I thought I understood my friend a little better, as much as an 8 or 9 year old could, even though my father could never answer my only question, "Why?"

    But I guess that's because he knew there was no answer.
     
  11. Mississippianna

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

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    I just can't see Anne Hathaway as Hilly. I pictured her as... less tall and lean and more short and a bit pudgy. I feel like Hilly is in charge more because she's a bully and not because she's just popular. I don't think she could be played by one of these well-known Hollywood actresses.

    But, I have not seen Hathaway in Rachel Getting Married.
     
  12. LMO429

    LMO429 DIS Veteran

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    I always picture Anna Paquin as Skeeter. Hilly I always picture as Luann from the real housewives of nyc. ;)
     
  13. tammydel

    tammydel <font color=blue>A true blue DISer!

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    Thanks for starting this book discussion group! I love to read and love to have others to discuss books with.:goodvibes
    I've just caught up and can't put it down.
    While I really like the book, I also find it distrurbing, and here's why. I can't help but wonder who I would have been had I lived at that time. As a white woman, I want very badly to assure myself that I would have been more like Skeeter, but how do we ever know? Women like Hilly grew up believing that they were moral and just in thier beliefs. Of course I can say now - how could you NOT know this was so wrong?! But I have lived in a completely different time and pace. I can only hope that I would have been Skeeter and not Hilly. Also it makes me think about what do we take for granted that would make us the Hilly of this generation???
     
  14. dreamlinda

    dreamlinda "dance to the music in your heart"

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    I have asked myself that same question. Am I blind to the plight of homelessness, and other social issues.... Do I give back to the community with both my financial and personal support.... Have I been silent when I could have made a difference by speaking out.... Will I look back on my life and feel I have been just, kind and fair to the community at large, or only to my family and close friends. It's a lot to consider!!
     
  15. mainegal

    mainegal <font color=purple>I am becoming very good at maki

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    Wow! This book has brought out some very interesting comments and very personal stories.


    I just started the book last night. I am sure I will like the story as so many others before me have.

    However... I am having a very difficult time reading the dialect.

    I cringe as I read the poor grammer as it would have been spoken by "the help". I find myself skimming the words and correcting them into "proper English" as I read. I wonder if I would have been better off listening to the book, maybe not.

    I had the same trouble with "Color Purple" and did not finish that book.

    I will persevere! Going to curl up with the book right now.
     
  16. MaryJ

    MaryJ <font color=660099>Believes in Tag Gremlins, not T

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    I had the same problem with the grammer, but as the book went on, I got used to it. Don't let that keep you from reading the book. I guess I was able to skim by most of it because I grew up in a small rural town where there were many whose grammer was similar. My mother however, was a teacher and would never let me get away with using any of it. Thanks Mom! :)
     
  17. mainegal

    mainegal <font color=purple>I am becoming very good at maki

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    Okay, I kept reading. I am up to chapter six now and the language is smoothing out between my eyes and my head. Good read!

    What is with Hilly and the pie?
     
  18. Eeyores#1Fan

    Eeyores#1Fan DIS Veteran

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    LOL! Those of us that have finished the book soooo can not spoil that for you. :rotfl:

    Glad you are getting into the book now despite the grammer. Enjoy!
     
  19. *NikkiBell*

    *NikkiBell* The WDW Merchandise Walking Bible Moderator

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    :welcome: I am excited to see a book clubber from Germany! I hope to hear your thoughts on the book here. Please see the discussion points in the first post so you can join us! :thumbsup2

    Although it through me for a loop the first few paragraphs, I am actually enjoying the dialect. It is my understanding that it is very accurate in this book, and I feel that it helps me make a mental picture of the scenes in each chapter.

    This is really interesting. I am beyond excited for this movie to come out. I honestly cannot picture many actresses as our beloved characters though. The idea of Oprah in it is interesting, but I am not sure if I like her as Aibileen. I don't think she fits her persona at all. Monique might be good for one of the maids or how about that Gabby girl from Precious?

    :welcome: I'm glad that you have found us! I also wonder what I would have been like at that time. It seems as if these beliefs about race, women, etc. were taught from generation to generation, so I am not sure where I'd fit in. I'd also like to think I'd be more of a Skeeter back then.
     
  20. *NikkiBell*

    *NikkiBell* The WDW Merchandise Walking Bible Moderator

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    The relationship between Miss Celia and Minny is a unique one. When looking at how other white women and their maids act towards one another in the novel, it is almost as if there is a slight role reversal between the two. Minny frequently tells Miss Celia what to do while the latter asks her advice on many things. Even more so, Miss Celia refers to Minny as her "perfect chicken partner," on page 224 and later admits that she looks at her as a friend. Minny is stunned by this and makes it clear that they cannot be friends due to society's expectations.

    Miss Celia really shocked me in this section (Ch. 16-23) of The Help. Minny's suspicion of a drinking problem would be a perfect explanation to Miss Celia's strange behavior. Never in my wildest dreams would I have guessed that she was pregnant.

    We see just how far Minny will go to help Miss Celia in Chapter 18. It is here that she, again, takes on the role of a best friend when Miss Celia miscarries her hidden baby. I was stunned by this scene. Minny truly came to the rescue and went above and beyond the call of duty. She did this even despite the racisim occurring between whites and blacks in the town.

    Aibileen and Skeeter's relationship has also developed as of lately. Aibileen, like Minny, has experienced racism firsthand working as a white woman's maid. Still, she is able to put this aside and speak to Miss Skeeter. She treats her respectfully even though white women do not show her the same respect. Aibileen also goes out of her way to help Skeeter find other maids for the stories. This is done despite the danger she is putting herself in by talking to Skeeter. Does this mean she almost excuses her for being friends with those who speak so poorly of the maids? To what extent do you think a person's flaws, such as racist attitudes and behaviors, can be forgiven because it is the norm in the surrounding culture?
     
  21. tammydel

    tammydel <font color=blue>A true blue DISer!

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    Finished yesterday. I always feel a little sad when I finish a book like this, I want to know what happens to each character NEXT.
    Nikki - Your question about being able to forgive attitudes when it is the norm of the culture is a good one. Maybe this is where tolarence goes both ways? Maybe not tolerance but at least understanding? I know I know many dear older people who's view on many subjects differ greatly from mine. I also know that these attitutes and opinions were formed during times I did not live through. So perhaps I can't excuse those opinions, but I can at least understand why a person might have those beliefs even though I can't agree.
    Anyway, I'd love a sequel, because I'd love to know where the paths each character is on will lead them.
     

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