Reception of the Help

In the New York Times article, Stockett recalls how she got the original idea for the book. Although the book sheds light on the perspective of the maids, the way Stockett talks about her characters provides an interesting question on the representation of identity. “She worried that readers wouldn’t trust her if she only wrote about black characters” and “felt better” once having written Skeeters perspective as well. Given the racism and prejudice black people already face, it is quite naive of Stockett to “feel better” about showing the white perspective. Even though Skeeter was more liberal than her childhood friends, she did not necessarily think of blacks and whites as equal. As she is a white woman writing the book, by feeling the need to include a white person she is reinforcing the racial stereotypes already in place. It can be argued that it is her novel and is fiction thus she may write in any perspective she wishes, however, it is important to recognise the irony of a white woman writing about a black woman’s experiences from imagination. That being said, if it encourages people to talk about the problems taking place in society, is the potential inaccuracy of the black characters cancelled out by the public attention to the black community received?

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One thought on “Reception of the Help

  • October 8, 2019 at 6:50 am
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    “if it encourages people to talk about the problems taking place in society, is the potential inaccuracy of the black characters cancelled out by the public attention to the black community received?”

    That’s an interesting way to put it, Annie. Have you heard of Uncle Tom’s Cabin? By Harriet Beecher Stowe?

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