The Help Movie Essay; Kathryn Stockett’s Perspective
The Help is a movie released in 2011 and is an adaption of Kathryn Stockett’s best seller of the same name. The book and movie primarily raise the themes of racism and black inequality, as seen through the lenses of two black maids and their white employers. The story explores all of the features of the 60’s era ills of racism and segregation, including curtailment of speech, limited educational and professional advancement for blacks, and the overall social message pervaded in that period about folks of African-American descent being a cut below the rest of the population especially Caucasians.
While the ills of racism and segregation are addressed in the story, the tale also edifies the fact that human relationships can transcend skin color or ancestral background, as evidenced by the strong relationships that develop between ‘the Helps’ and their employers’ children. The story also explores other themes such as women rights and education.
In writing a great Help essay, it would be advisable first to get a feel of the book then watch the movie if you have enough time. Reading through the book first will always place you in at an advantage when you finally get to watch the movie because you’ll have a deeper understanding of the characters.
Beginning Your Essay
The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi 1963, and tells the story of Aibileen Clark, an African-American maid working for a white socialite, Elizabeth Leefolt. Aibileen tells her story to Eugenia ‘Skeeter’ Phelan, who is an aspiring writer and a friend to Leefolt. Also in the picture is Minny Jackson, another African-American maid and best friend to Aibileen.
The two women are vastly different in their approaches to dealing with their white employers. While Aibileen is reserved in her approach and gently tows the line set out by her masters, Minny is her straight-talking, no holds barred polar opposite.
As the story progresses through the two women working for different white employers, and the children whom they take care of growing up, we see different themes begin to unravel.
Writing an essay on this book or movie means that you need to identify the strongest themes that have been raised in the story. Some of these themes include:
- Racism, segregation and class inequality and their effects on the lives of those affected.
- Gender inequality: This applies not only to the black women but also to the white majority in general. How certain idiosyncrasies were laid upon and expected of women due to their sex. For example, it can be clearly seen that women, even white ones, are thought of as caregivers and caretakers of the home, while their husbands go off to work. Those like Skeeter who is an aspiring writer are viewed as the deviants in a society where women are to be seen and not to be heard.
- Friendship: Love is a central theme in the story and is explored in the relationships between white children and their black caretakers.
- Domestic relations, abuse and general violence, such as Minny being abused by her husband.
When writing an essay on The Help story, you may be given direction on what themes to explore and how to bring these themes to life with your essay. You must, therefore, have a pretty good grasp of the story so that you choose the most relevant examples to back up your essay with. In most cases, you will need to focus on one or two central topics. Fill our essay with colorful examples from the story and use quotes if you can pull them off correctly. An emphasis is to read the book and watch the movie too, seeing as there are notable differences between the two. However, if the essay specifically requires you to give your assessment of the movie, all references you make within your writing should be directly from the movie.
You may also be required to critique the film. What omissions did you see in the story? One notable absence from the story is that of men, who are almost passive throughout the story.
Also, give a commentary on whether The Help actually addressed these themes or was just another great story.