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View Diary: My Thoughts On "The Help" (236 comments)

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  •  It depends on how you define working class... (14+ / 0-)

    in the book, Abiline worked for the Leefolts.  The husband was an insurance salesmen and his business was struggling.  Mrs. Leefolt stayed home.  They used the money they were saving for their kids college education to build a separate bathroom, only have two bathrooms in the home.  They lived in a small ranch style home and the important contrast that the author drew, was when the Leefolt wife went to visit her sister.  The sister lived in Hollywood and WAS wealthy.  They described her home, how she ate out everyday, etc.  

    When I say working class, I mean work for a living, like I do.  One income home with a struggling insurance man does not make wealthy or upper class.  

    I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

    by princss6 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 10:54:12 AM PDT

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    •  Looks like I should read the book then. It sounds (7+ / 0-)

      more interesting than the movie.

      I work with B2B PAC, and all views and opinions in this account are my own.

      by slinkerwink on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 10:56:40 AM PDT

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      •  It is much richer... (9+ / 0-)

        I've not seen the movie but yes, I always read books before seeing the movie.  It feels in so much more than what Hollywood captures.  

        I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

        by princss6 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 11:03:13 AM PDT

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        •  I just got my copy in the afternoon mail. (4+ / 0-)

          I had not heard of either the book or the movie til I saw it
          see-ing it discussed here.
          I would rather read the book,then see the movie-I have always found it so much more textured.
          I also think all the discusions I have read here,of this book will enrich my reading of it.

          Conservatism is killing this country. Jayden

          by swampyankee on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 01:54:20 PM PDT

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          •  I can't slight her... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            blindyone, swampyankee

            on the texture in the book.  I'm withholding final judgement until I'm finished reading it.  We can compare notes when you are done!  :)

            You might beat me because I only read on my commute!  

            I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

            by princss6 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 03:17:34 PM PDT

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            •  I would enjoy that. I have'nt started it yet- (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              princss6

              A friend is coming over to watch a movie she has'nt seen yet,but I have,so I shall start it then.
              I hope I have enough sense to put it down and go to sleep when I start getting cross-eyed!

              Conservatism is killing this country. Jayden

              by swampyankee on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 05:10:18 PM PDT

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      •  Yes, definitely read the book (9+ / 0-)

        I've read the book and liked it, haven't seen the movie yet.  In the book Abilene actually does write out her own stories.  Even though it is fiction written by a young white women it does inspire curiousity and discussion about that period of our history and how dangerous it was for black men and women to speak out.  Even if imperfect, it's a way to make the period alive for those who didn't live through it.

        •  Skeeter empowered Abilene to write (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wishingwell

          This is a much stronger theme in the book than it was in the movie.

          At one point, Skeeter recognizes that Abilene is a more constant writer than she is.

          That in the 1960s it would have taken a white woman to pull all the stories together and get them published is something I can entirely believe.

          "He not busy being born is busy dying" -- Bob Dylan

          by Kascade Kat on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 12:01:35 PM PDT

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          •  Hmm... (11+ / 0-)

            I know this diary is about much more than the book or movie so I don't want to sidetrack it but, it is a little more nuanced than that.  Abilene wrote everyday.  Skeeter got the idea to write the book because Abilene told her about her son writing about book about his experience of being a black man in MS.  This was inspired by the book, The Invisible Man, which the son had read.

            The other black women joined as a result of Hilly getting another maid sent to prison for stealing a ring so she could send her twin boys to college.

            My take - Skeeter empowered herself to look under the lid of her world.  Abilene's son inspired both Skeeter and Abilene to write a book about the life of blacks in Mississsippi.

            I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

            by princss6 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 12:25:23 PM PDT

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      •  Yes read the book too (7+ / 0-)

        There are slight differences in the plot line a bit too....(I won't give them away)

        I just saw the movie yesterday with friends and the make up of the audience was similar but there were some men...?spouses? And in the group I went with, none of  us had help ...ever in our lifetimes...but  perhaps we're from a different region of the country and perhaps a different socioeconomic demographic too ?

         I think there was a greater ability in the book that expanded upon the time it took to get Abilene and for that matter all the other maids to finally talk to Skeeter, and the extent they went to not get caught talking to each other...because they were so fearful of the retribution that might come from it not only from the community, their families, but because of the nature of the era (Jim Crowe-KKK) in the deep south.

        I came away from both with many insights that I did not have prior to reading it a few months ago or from viewing the movie yesterday. Mostly my own ignorance of the era, and the time (especially that region). So in that sense I appreciate that "The Help" educated me in many ways...and opened my eyes to what it was like during that era ...unfortunately.

        I truly think  the Minnie character  was excellent (she was also a victim of domestic violence/abuse from her spouse) . And I like how it portrayed her as the true brains of the group...figuring out their insurance policy for when "The Help" was published by anonyous in their community.

        I wonder if there are individuals around now, similar in age to one of Minnie's daughters who was one of "the help" (she was around 14 during the early 60's in the book)  to discuss it truly from that perspective...and not through the author.

        "So don't call Obama a moderate. Don't call him a centrist. Don't call him a blue dog. Call him what he is...a Republican." OPOL

        by emal on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 12:11:29 PM PDT

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    •  I hear you. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      LucyandByron, sockpuppet, evergreen2

      In the 60s, that likely was upper middle clas sin Mississippi, but I see your point.

      It would be interesting to look at data from those times.  

      For example, before WWI, I think 20 to 25% of English folks were in service.  

      In Mississippi, you had segregation and job discrimination that forced women to enter "service" if they were to have jobs at all.   This downward pressure on wages may have allowed some whites to have housekeepers who would not otherwise have had them.

      I wonder how it is now there.  

      I have driven through Mississippi before but have little feeling for the cultures there.  

      The American people must wise up and rise up!

      by TomP on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 10:58:52 AM PDT

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      •  The Leefolts... (8+ / 0-)

        couldn't afford a membership to the pool.  They weren't upper middle class.  That's all I'm saying.  

        I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

        by princss6 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 11:04:34 AM PDT

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        •  I understand. (5+ / 0-)

          It's a fictional book, but I wonder how the reality was.  She wrote them as middle class I guess.  

          I bet there are statistics out there.  If I get time I'll look.

          It would make a good Ph.D thesis for a historian.  Determining the levels of service and how (or if) segregation and discrimination enabled some whites to have maids that they would not otherwise have had.  

          It fits concepts of herrenvcolk democracy in which whites have a rough equality and rights, a rough equality dependent on subordinating African Americans.  

          It would be fascinating research.  if only I had time.

          The American people must wise up and rise up!

          by TomP on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 11:11:11 AM PDT

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          •  I'd be interested in seeing them... (5+ / 0-)

            yes it is a fictional book.  Middle class people today, depending on where you live can afford someone to come in and "help."  

            But while we wait for stats, I'm comfortable going on what has been said here and for some time even before this book that having "help" isn't and wasn't an upper middle class or wealthy thing.  

            To slinkerwink's point, it still goes on today that people who are not upper middle class or wealthy can afford "help."

            I also lived in Texas, so I know that exploitation TODAY lends itself to making "help" affordable to not only the upper middle class or the wealthy but to the working middle class as well.  

            I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

            by princss6 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 11:17:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  That would really be (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            TomP, emal

            fascinating research.

            Pick a roughly equal demographic - factory workers, middle management, etc. - in various areas. NE, south, LA, SF, TX, Chicago - and compare the types of help they had or didn't have.

            It would be interesting, to say the least.

            •  I think it may be more of a southern (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              texasmom, effervescent, wishingwell, emal

              or SW thing (exploitation of immigrants).

              I grew up with an auto-worker father and secretary mother in the 60s and we never had servants.  We'd have laughed if it were suggested.

              The American people must wise up and rise up!

              by TomP on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 11:55:13 AM PDT

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              •  The places where we've lived (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                TomP, lgmcp, princss6, wishingwell

                many two-income families have help cleaning once a week and sometimes help with the heavy yard work.  None of them (us) ever considered them servants, though.  Most of us consciously trade off something (like restaurant lunches & overpriced coffee)  in order to afford the extra help.  

                This only applies from the mid-70's on, though.

                The truth always matters.

                by texasmom on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 12:55:02 PM PDT

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                •  Interesting. (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  texasmom, wishingwell

                  We hire teenagers to do grass cutting.  

                  Just different I guess.

                  I would feel really weird to have cleaning help.  

                  The American people must wise up and rise up!

                  by TomP on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 01:13:31 PM PDT

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                  •  Not mowing - I even do that (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    TomP, princss6

                    I'm talking about light tree-trimming, digging up extra "shoots" where we don't want more bushes and occasionally digging up volunteer trees so I can try to transplant them & keep them alive.  Not much success with that this year.   A few times a year we hire the same guys, who do it on the side.  One of them is a fireman.

                    The truth always matters.

                    by texasmom on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 01:23:39 PM PDT

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          •  Military personnel abroad (4+ / 0-)

            When I was a child, even the enlisted men's families could afford some help at foreign postings in countries with sufficiently depressed economies.  

            As I recall, most of them were awful to them.  I assumed at the time it was because the "help" were "natives/the Occupied" and thus at the bottom of the totem pole.  The wives of the senior officers were beastly to my mother, and their kids were beastly to my sister and me, more because of rank than because we were Asian (we heard those words from civilians).  The whole culture followed the Abusive Father Model to me.  My mother's theory was that most of the officer corps had no idea how to treat people because (sorry, but this is her opinion) they were underclass types taking vengeance for all the "betters" who'd ever made them feel worthless, by jacking around Third Worlders who had no recourse (plus they had no manners, full stop.)  Ugly never washes out ugly, any more than blood washes out blood.  And it's ugly no matter who does it.  

            BTW, some people managed to be decent, like my father's commander, so my mother wasn't going to cut anyone any slack for "what they'd gone through."  

            "A city for sale and doomed to speedy destruction if it finds a purchaser!" -King Jugurtha of Numidia

            by LucyandByron on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 01:34:46 PM PDT

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            •  Yes... (0+ / 0-)

              I think that is key...the depressed wages due to societal factors makes hiring "help" affordable.  The flip side is that the wages are so low that they are many times, not livable wages.  

              I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

              by princss6 on Wed Aug 17, 2011 at 03:22:57 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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