Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Are we actually doing this?

By page 120 Miss Skeeter presents Aibileen with the idea she thought of, for colored help to describe how it is to work for white people, raise their children, and clean their houses. But the idea terrifies Aibileen. She knows that being a part of a tell all book is like giving yourself the death penalty. And with that, Aibileen out right says “No” to Miss Skeeter’s proposition.
                A lot takes place in the middle of this book as the story begins to progress and develop. For example, there are certain romantic aspects of the novel. Skeeter uses a “Magic Soft & Silky Shinalator” for her double date with Hilly, where she will finally meet Stuart, the senator’s son. Being blown off three times by him, Skeeter doesn’t have very high hopes for this date, yet the Shinalator actually works and tames her frizzy hair.
“’Ho-ly shit,’ I say. All I’m thinking is, The date. The blind date is next weekend.
Mother smiles, shocked. She doesn’t even scold me for cursing, my hair looks great. The Shinalator actually worked.” (Stockett 130)
                When the date actually comes, it does not ride as smooth as planned. Skeeter ends up having to take the truck to Hilly’s house, which smells like manure and doesn’t have air conditioning, so by the time she reaches Hilly’s her hair is frizzy again and she smells like cows. Luckily Hilly fixes her up right, and Skeeter actually looks “sexy”. But Stuart’s personality is not up to par. During the date he ends up getting drunk and completely ignores Skeeter, except for the occasional rude comments to her. The date was so awful Skeeter ends up crying by ends meet.
It’s during this part I really feel bad for her, all she wanted was someone to show affection for her and she gets all dressed up for him, only for him just to treat her like she isn’t worth a thing. It would be an awful feeling.
                Things just seem to be going downhill for Skeeter from that point on, but she gets a call from Aibileen one night. She tells Skeeter that she’ll help her with her stories, and this news  brightens Miss Skeeter’s day. From this point on more and more lives will get interwoven, because soon enough, after the success of Skeeter’s first story she realizes she needs to interview more maids, which ultimately brings Minny into the picture. The book is starting to speed up as the character’s past and personalities become established. I praise the writing, it smoothly transitions from paragraph to paragraph, and the dialogue is realistic and interesting. No wonder it’s a best seller!

Monday, March 5, 2012

The Idea

                This is really how it all starts to unravel. Since Skeeter hasn’t a clue how to clean, she asks her friend, Elizabeth Leefolt, if she can interview Aibileen to help her out with her columns. Reluctantly, Elizabeth comes to say yes, “’Well…I mean, as long as it doesn’t interfere with her work.” (Stockett 91)
The first day Miss Skeeter comes over for the Miss Myrna columns it starts out with simple questions about cleaning; yet Skeeter later starts asking more personal questions, like what Aibileen knows about Constantine. Accidently Aibileen confesses that Constantine was actually fired, she didn’t randomly quit. When it is obvious Aibileen won’t say anymore than that, Miss Skeeter goes home to confront her mother. But her mom gives her not more information than what she just received.
                Miss Skeeter returns to Elizabeth’s house to ask Aibileen more questions. Aibileen feels bad that Skeeter doesn’t know what actually happened with Constantine, but discusses that she just isn’t comfortable talking to her about it. But they eventually get to talking about her son Treelore, and his idea about writing a book about working for a white man in Mississippi. And it is this idea that will inspire Miss Skeeter to pursue the idea of the Help.
                Eventually we move on to Aibileen, who teaches Mae Mobley to use the potty. This learning lesson turns bad when Aibileen teaches Mae how to use it on her colored toilet, and when Aibileen tries to show Miss Leefolt that Mae can use the bathroom in their house she runs to Aibileen’s bathroom and uses it. Furious, Miss Leefolt spanks Mae Mobley and she begins to cry. Aibileen is devastated, believing this is all her fault, not knowing what to do, she holds little Mae as she cries.
By page 120 Miss Skeeter presents Aibileen with the idea she thought of, for colored help to describe how it is to work for white people, raise their children, and clean their houses. But the idea terrifies Aibileen. She knows that being a part of a tell all book is like giving yourself the death penalty. And with that, Aibileen out right says “No” to Miss Skeeter’s proposition.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A bit of Minny and a lot of Miss Skeeter

                Everyday Minny comes back to work Miss Celia appears to be excited that she actually returned, but Minny makes sure to remind Miss Celia every payday how many days are left before Miss Celia must tell her husband that she’s hired help. But everyday closer to the deadline Miss Celia becomes more and more nervous.
                Nevertheless, Minny makes note that Miss Celia is about the laziest person she has ever seen. All she does is sit around in the house and lay in bed, occasionally rising to go upstairs in the empty bedrooms or for cooking lessons with Minny. But she tries to stay out of her business and just look forward to that day Miss Celia does have to lie about her. Things get very stressful for Minny when she believes Mister Johnny has come home and she runs to hide in a bathroom.
“My eyes grow sharper in the dark. After a minute, I see myself in the mirror over the sink. Crouched like a fool on top of a white lady’s toilet.
                Look at me. Look what it’s come to for Minny Jackson to make a damn living.” (Stockett 62)
                Next we get to learn about Miss Skeeter, or Eugenia Phelan. Being a tall, lanky and awkward girl, she’s no beauty queen, but the only of her friends to actually finish college and not drop out to get married. This is to her mother’s dismay; however, because she would rather Skeeter get married than have a diploma.
“’Four years my daughter goes off to college and what does she come home with?’
‘A diploma?’
‘A pretty piece of paper,’ Mother says” (Stockett 64)

 Miss Skeeter was raised by a colored woman named Constantine, whom she loved and bonded more with than her own mother. Now older, Miss Skeeter desperately wants to figure out what happened to Constantine, who randomly disappeared without explanation. And whenever she asks the help about her, no one seems to be willing to give her an answer.
                Now graduated, Miss Skeeter seeks a job in the newspaper so she can eventually pursue her dream of becoming a writer. She manages to find a job writing Miss Myrna columns in the newspaper, which covers different cleaning techniques. She just encounters one problem about this job. She does actually know how to be a housewife.

Friday, March 2, 2012


By the third chapter I realize that this book is actually going to be told by different perspectives, and in this particular chapter we are introduced to Minny. She is a chubby, strong spirited woman who will sass anyone who gets on her nerves, and is also the best cook in this fictional dimension of Jackson, Mississippi. She has five kids and a drunk of a husband, and was formally the help for Miss Hilly’s mother until she did something with a pie, which subsequently got her fired.
                Worried and out of work, Minny struggles to find work because Miss Hilly has lied and told all of her friends that Minny is a thief so no one will give her a job. She ultimately has to take the work Aibileen found for her, which is working for Miss Celia. Since Celia has married Miss Hilly’s old boyfriend, Hilly won’t talk to her and says bad things about her when she isn’t around. Since Miss Hilly’s lies have not reach Miss Celia, it is the only work Minny can obtain.
                Miss Celia is a pretty, busty blonde from the country with little brains and cooking capabilities, yet she is sweet at heart. She eagerly hires Minny and offers her double the pay she had previously, but with a catch. Miss Celia doesn’t want to tell her husband that Minny will be helping her out around the house. This intensely troubles Minny because she does not want Mister Johnny to come home to a colored woman in his house and kill her. She angrily states in the book, “’And what’s Mister Johnny gone do if hecome home and find a colored woman up in his kitchen?...I’ll tell you what he’s gone do, he’s gone get that pistol and shoot Minny dead right here on this no-wax floor’”. (Stockett 43)

 Though Minny states that she is going to leave if Miss Celia doesn’t tell her husband, she ends up taking the job anyway. When she shows up for work, Minny realizes that the house is a lot messier than she thought. It’s actually kind of funny when she attempts to clean a grizzly bear. “White people. I mean, I’ve cleaned everything from refrigerators to rear ends but what makes that lady think I know how to clean a damn grizzly bear?” (Stockett 50)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Beginning

      The novel unfolds as Aibileen, a maid in the novel and an essential character throughout the book, begins telling her story. We as readers get to learn a little bit about her past, as she describes how through out her life she has raised seventeen children, and in her experience she is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to raising  kids. She knows " how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning"( Stockett 1). Aibileen talks with the mannerism of the deep south, for Stockett does not neglect to add a southern drawl whenever Aibileen tells her story. But even though Aibileen does not use proper grammar, it does not take away from the wisdom that her character portrays. As she tells her story, one can tell that she has experienced a lot of different things, and seems to know what's best because of what she's seen in her life.
        By the fifth page we already know that Aibileen is currently working for Ms. Leefolt, who is a white, skinny young woman who has this strange distaste for her own child, Mae Mobley. But Aibileen loves and takes care of the baby like it's her own child, and this loving display of affection does not go unnoticed, for Mae Mobley returns the affection by following Aibileen wherever she goes. Aibileen takes note by the second page "Mae Mobley two years old now...She get the same wrinkle between her eyebrows when she worried, like her mama. They kind a favor except Mae Mobley so fat. She ain't gone be no beauty queen. I think it bother Miss Leefolt, But Mae Mobley my special baby." (Stockett 2)
       Further we learn that Aibileen's only child and son, Treelore, was killed in an accident when he was just twenty-four years old. He was an intelligent young man, and Aibileen knew he was going to do great things. So when she learned that he had been killed and little had been done to save him because he was black, Aibileen's world fell apart. "A bitter seed was planted inside a me. And I just didn't feel so accepting anymore." (Stockett 3)
                The first chapter basically just establishes the main characters. It is a bit slow, but all books have to start somewhere. We learn that the Leefolts are struggling middle class family, and Miss Leefolt does what ever she can to impress her friends. We learn that she, Ms. Hilly, and Miss Skeeter were old friends from their college days at Old Miss. But the premise of the chapter, at least I would assume, is to establish that Miss Hilly wants it to be required for the black help to have separate bathrooms than whites, because blacks carry different diseases and it would be safer if they didn't use the same toilets. Miss Hilly outright asks Aibileen about how she'd love this idea, and Aibileen reluctantly agrees, knowing she cannot defy Miss Hilly face to face.