The fiction novel, The Help perfectly demonstrates pre-Civil Rights Movement segregation by using the simple symbol of a toilet.
Inspired by the author’s own experience of living in the south and being raised by an African American maid, The Help was an absolutely riveting book that perfectly embodied the contradictions and dichotomies of the lives of African American maids in the South during the Civil Rights Movement.
Hilly Holbrook, a local socialite of Jackson, Mississippi and employer of an African-American maid (also known simply as “the Help”), starts the Home Help Sanitation Initiative, which specifies that all homes that hire help shall have separate bathrooms for black and white users.
However, one of Hilly’s friends befriends the maids (due to her own experience being raised by a maid). She is inspired to write a book that features the biographies of 12 maids in Jackson. This controversial project is done in secrecy and anonymously, as it would put all of the parties involved in danger.
The author uses two of the maids from the project, Minny and Aibileen, and the writer, Skeeter, to narrate this book. It is like three books in one because you truly get to know each one of these amazing women’s stories and see their beautiful personalities. And the fact that they are from two different lifestyles gives the book a unique look at all sides of the story.
The writing in this book is amazing. The language and the diction are absolutely transformative. Don’t be surprised if you perfect a Southern accent by the time you are done reading this book.
The attention to detail in the writing of this book is also amazing. The book lines up seamlessly with history as the characters experience the invention of the Zip Code, President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Rosa Park’s effect on Civil Rights, Martin Luther King Jr.’s Marches and the shooting of the NAACP secretary in Jackson.
However, the movie that was based on this book was absolutely atrocious. It was overly dramatic, it had narration issues and they replaced great parts of the story with cheesy flashbacks.
My biggest issue with this movie was that there was no narration. With a book that is narrated by three different amazing women, having a movie just full of dialog doesn’t get it right. At a tumultuous time in history where many issues were internal, just having dialogue does not give the whole picture.
And instead of using simple narration, the director used cheesy flashbacks, which only made the movie overly dramatic and complicated. You didn’t really get to know any of the characters—they were all two-dimensional.
They also changed several of the characters in the book, but they didn’t do so for logistical purposes (which I would have understood because many details get lost in translation from movie to book) but they did it to make the movie more dramatic.
For instance, one of the minor characters gets sick, but instead of her getting gradually sick like she did in the book, the character immediately degenerates. Plus, her medical treatment is a lot less severe in the book.
Another stupid character change is to another minor character. They don’t mention the characters background at all, and the background was absolutely crucial in all of the relationships in the book.
The end of the movie was depressing because they didn’t resolve one of the main characters issues. In the book she ends up all right in the movie they just show her after her “rock bottom point” walking away into the horizon. It makes me really mad that they did that just to be dramatic and have a stupid “walking away into the horizon” shot.
The book had genius little moments of comic relief, but in the movie they cut all of those out and just stuck with serious, overly dramatic scenes.
However, I must say that the costume designer was amazing for that movie. All of the women’s 1960s clothing was perfect.
I give the book HHHHH
I give the movie HHIII
The Puyallup Post is the award-winning student news of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2017. Twitter/Instagram @puyalluppost
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