March Book Discussion

April 2, 2011

Title: The Help
Author: Kathryn Stockett

What did you think of The Help?
Share your opinions in the comments section and answer any of the discussion questions that you want to answer. Check back for more comments, and join the conversation!

Book Club Discussion Questions:

1. Hilly and Mother are stuck in a pre-civil rights mindset, and others, though they don’t necessarily agree, follow their lead. This is one obvious barrier to equality. What other barriers do you see in the story? How did the characters push those barriers?

2. How do you think Skeeter grew throughout the book?  Think about her emotional, physical, and spiritual growth. 

3. Dialect can be a controversial topic in literature. Do you think the dialect used in this novel adds to or distracts from the story? Make a case for your opinion.

4.  Can a white author truly tell such personal stories for African American women? Or would the book be skewed?

5. Which character did you relate to the most and why?

Find  other book club posts here:
Bloggy Book Club
Bloggy Book Reviews

Happy reading!


8 Responses to “March Book Discussion”

  1. Julie Says:

    I loved this book. As far as the first question goes, I think the general issue that people face with pushing the status quo is the biggest barrier. In Mississippi, despite Civil Rights activism, racism and segregation was the norm. So to go against it was extremely difficult. You faced losing all of your friends and your status in society if you tried to be different. I think this is why people tended to follow Hilly. She represented the high society in town, and to be part of that, you had to go along with what she did and said. Plus, that’s the way it always was in the past, so it was a lot easier for the women in the story to just go along with what they were used to, what they had grown up with.

    • hbur Says:

      I agree. “separate but equal” (although obviously not equal) was the social standard at the time. the women may not have known how to interact, to change things. I keep picturing Hilly as unsocialized as Celia now, just in a different setting.

      • Julie Says:

        That’s an interesting way to think of it, but you’re right. Hilly is now the one in a culture where she doesn’t quite belong.

  2. Becky Says:

    I agree with Julie, Skeeter was questioning the status quo and participating in taboo practices. But this “questioning” is how society changes. Imagine a 13 year old girl walking down the street in short shorts and Uggs during the early 1900s, that girl would be ostracized, but the limits have been pushed little by little to allow such attire in the present.

    • hbur Says:

      I wonder if Skeeter intended to question things and push the status quo at first. We see her dismiss Hilly’s initiative pretty early on, but it still kinda seemed like she just wanted to be published. then, after she learned more about the maids’ situations and built relationships with them, we see her start to question things more.

  3. Julie Says:

    I think your 4th question – Can a white author truly tell such personal stories for African American women? Or would the book be skewed? – is one that can be extended to many books. While some authors stick with characters who are similar to themselves, many venture out to other types of people and try to get into their heads. I think there is a bit of skewing when this happens. As a white woman myself, I felt like the maids seemed realistic and true. But I’m not really the right person to judge that. It would be interesting to know what black women who were in that maid role in the 60s think of the book. I’m sure there must be some reviews and/or criticism out there.

    • hbur Says:

      Julie, I did a quick search yesterday and saw some criticism of the dialect, especially since the southern white women didn’t use much dialect. I will have to keep looking for more reviews of the content though.

  4. […] 2011 – The Help by Kathryn Stockett Bloggy Book Club Bloggy Book […]

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