The Help

A much reduced club by illness and holidays, discussed the Help by Kathryn Stockett. This book, set in the deep South of America, discusses the plight of black Americans employed as maids by white families.  It was agreed that the account which is supposedly factual, although in the context of a fictional plot, was an eye opener.

It was commented that the book shows respect for white women which only adds to the force of the story. It doesn’t present a simplistic view but rather the characters are rounded and varied. One of the principal characters is a white women trying to understand and document the life of the maids.  It is quite remarkable that the black maids were entrusted with the care and upbringing of white children until the age of 3 or 4. There is a scene of pathos when a white child, asked to draw what she wants to become when grown up, draws a black woman.

In many ways the maids became the de facto mothers of the white children. The love and care which was lavished upon them by the maids was heartwarming. All the more so as the maids knew that in later life the children would grow into adults accepting the segregation of the races.

It was extraordinary how the black women accepted their place in society at the bottom of the heap: astonishing  that this has changed in the lifetime of older members. The book is set at the time during which the desegregation was just beginning.

The book was easy to read justifying the well worn description ” unputdownable”

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