I found myself day dreaming through out the school day just thinking about this book. Every time I went to re-open this gold covered delight at night I knew I was in for a treat.
The Help tells a story of the deep south. A time when "The Help" was the staple to every household. A staple that was an unwanted/wanted/talked about/not talked about/necessity. The book tells the story of day to day life through the eyes of two housemaids named Aibeleen and Minny and one well to do white woman Skeeter. Skeeter is much too tall for her mothers ideals and much too ambitions for a woman of her time. When Skeeter lands a job at a local newspaper writing an editorial column answering household questions that readers write in with, Skeeter realizes she--nor any other well to do white woman---has not a clue how to remove stains from lace, or how best to get rid of household odors. Skeeter makes the oddest of choices when she asks her friend to enlist the help of Aibeleen her maid, to help her in answering the questions. Skeeter begins to see the irony of it all---and comes up with a bold idea enlisting the help of both Minny and Aibeleen. A bold idea that embarks the woman on a courageous journey of empowerment and friendship.
Man oh man does this book have soul. It has happiness, sadness, sarcasm and wit. It is oh so beautiful, sobbering and true. Kathryn Stockett covered the issue of inequality and racism with such realism, tact, and beauty you can't help but keep on reading. I'm still in awe at how wonderfully she put this novel together. You meet Minny who is a maid with attitude and spunk, she kept me rolling every time I read her parts,
Even though she has zero kids and nothing to do all day, she is the laziest woman I've ever seen. Including my sister Doreena who never lifted a royal finger growing up because she had the heart defect that we later found out was a fly on the X-ray machine.
You also meet Aibileen who is the help and nanny to adorable Mae Mobley. And quite the oposite in personality to Minny, where Minny is harder and spunky, Aibeleen is gentle and kind.
She say, "Mae Mo bad."I loved the friendship and the character dynamic between the three women. It was sobering to see the lives the help lived going to work in the nice neighborhoods and then returning home to their torn down shamble of a house. The little dance they did everyday at work, and then teaching their children the same dance, when they were old enough to work. It was interesting to see Skeeter's character become disillusioned with the world she lived in, and how so different people can be to you when you stand up for what you believe in.
The way she say it, like it's a fact, make my insides hurt.
"Mae Mobley," I say cause I got a notion to try something. "You a smart girl?"
She just look at me, like she don't know.
"You a smart girl," I say again.
She say, "Mae Mo smart."
I say, "You a kind little girl?"
She just look at me. She two years old. She don't know what she is yet.
I say, "You a kind girl," and she nod, repeat it back to me. But before I can do another one, she get up and chase that poor dog around the yard and laugh and that's when I get to wondering, what would happen if I told her she something good, ever day?
This book was such a treat, by the time I finished the book I had all sorts of sticky notes sticking out the side, full of notes and thoughts I had as I read--highlighting certain passages. I finished it the day before Martin Luther King day and attended an awesome forum later on at school where former Secreatary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke, giving a wonderful speech on challenging ourselves by doing hard things. It's crazy to me to think of Racism and segregation happening simply 20 years before I was born---that my parents lived through that. It's a sobering thought to know it still goes on today. I'm happy though, to see how far we've come and to see how much we've learned.
Aibeleen potty training Mae Mobley:
"Go just a little for me, Baby Girl."
She stick her lip out, shake her head.
Miss Leefolt gone to get her hair done, else I ask her again will she set the example even though that woman's already said no five times.
. . .
Mae Mobley, she shake her head and say, "You go."
Now, I ain't saying I ain't heard this before, but usually I can get around it. I know, though, she got to see how it's done for she gone get to business.
I say, "I don't got to go."
We look at each other. She point again and say, "You go."
. . . I know what I'm on have to do. I just don't know how to go about it. Should I take her out to the garage to mine or go here in their bathroom? What if Miss Leefolt come home and I'm setting up on this toilet? She have a fit.
I put her diaper back on and we go out to the garage. Rain make it smell a little swampy. Even with the light on it's dark, and they ain't no fancy wallpaper like inside the house. Fact, they really ain't no proper walls at all, just ply-board hammered together. I wonder if she gone be scared.
"Alright, Baby Girl, here 'tis. Aibileen's bathroom."
She stick her head in and her mouth make the shape of a Cheerio. She say, "Oooo."
I take down my underthings and I tee-tee fast, use the paper, and get it all back on before sh can really see anything. Then I flush.
"And that's how you go in the toilet," I say.
Well, don't she look surprise. Got her mouth hanging open like she done seen a miracle. I step out and for I know it, she got her diaper off and that little monkey done climbed on that toilet, holding herself up so she don't fall in, going tee-tee for herself.
"Mae Mobley! you going! that's real good!" She smile and I catches her for she dip down in it. We run back inside and she get her two cookies.
. . .
Late that afternoon, Miss Leefolt come home with her hair all teased up. She got a permanent and she smell like pneumonia.
"Guess what Mae Mobley done today?" I say. "Went to the bathroom in the toilet bowl."
"Oh, that's wonderful!" She give her girl a hug, something I don't see enough of. I know she mean it, too, cause Miss Leefolt do not like changing diapers.
I say, "You got to make sure she go in the pot from now on. It's real confusing for her if you don't." Miss Leefolt smile, say, "Alright."
"Let's see if she do it one more time for I go home." We go in the bathroom. I get her diapers off and put her up on that toilet. But Baby Girl, she shaking her head.
"Come on, Mae Mobley, can't you go in the pot for your mama?"
Finally I put her back down on her feet. "That's alright, you did real good today."
But Miss Leefolt, she got her lips sticking out and she hmphing and frowning down at her. Before I can get her diaper on again, Baby Girl run off fast as she can. Nekkid little white baby running through the house. She in the kitchen. She got the back door open, she in the garage, trying to reach the knob to my bathroom. We run after her and Miss Leefolt pointing her finger. Her voice go about ten pitches too high. "This is not your bathroom!"
Baby Girl wagging her head. "My bafroom!"
Miss Leefolt snatch her up, give her a pop on the leg.
"Miss Leefolt she don't know what she do----"
"Get back in the house, Aibileen!"
I hate it, but I go in the kitchen. I stand in the middle, leave the door open behind me.
"I did not raise you to use the colored bathroom!" I hear her hiss whispering, thinking I can't hear, and I think, Lady, you didn't raise your child at all.
"This is dirty out here, Mae Mobley. You'll catch diseases! No no no!"
And I hear her pop her again and again on her bare legs.
After a second, Miss Leefot potato-sack her inside. There ain't nothing I can do but watch it happen. My heart feel like it's squeezing up into my throat-pipe. Miss Leefolt drop Mae Mobley in front a the tee-vee and she march to her bedroom and slam the door. I go give Baby Girl a hug. She still crying and she look awful confused.
"I'm real sorry, Mae Mobley," I whisper to her. I'm cussing myself for taking her out there in the first place. But I don't know what else to say, so I just hold her.
We set there watching Li'l Rascals until Miss Leefolt come out, ask ain't it past time for me to go. I tuck my bus dime in my pocket. Give Mae Mobley one more hug, whisper, "You a smart girl. You a good girl."
On the ride home, I don't see the big white houses passing outside the window. I don't talk to my maid friends. I see Baby Girl getting spanked cause a me. I see her listening to Miss Leefolt call me dirty, diseased.
The bus speeds up along State Street. We pass over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and my jaw so tight I could break my teeth off. I feel that bitter seed growing inside a me, the one planted after Treelore died. I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty ain't a color, disease ain't the Negro side a town. I want to stop that moment from coming---and it come in ever white child's life---when they start to think that colored folks ain't as good as whites.
We turn on Farish and I stand up cause my stop be coming. I pray that wasn't her moment. pray I still got time. . .
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