Thursday, August 05, 2010

Book Club Discussion - The Help - Updated!!!!!!

Did you love it? Did you love it?

I haven't heard of a person who didn't like this one. It speaks to the reader on so many levels.....equal rights and feminism being of the utmost importance, no doubt. I actually had a hard time reading parts due to the raw nature of life "back then" compared to what we have now.


1. Who would you rate the strongest of the three characters? Why?

2. Miss Hilly......unfortunately not a stretch of character. Because she lived in a different generation, is her behavior forgivable?

3. What did you think of Minny's revenge?

4. Which character's perspective (or narration) did you prefer?

****Be sure to check out Sass's quotes on this book at this link. I loved re-reading her favorites.

As always, leave me a vote for our next read!


starnes family said...

OKiedokie, I'll get us started.

1. Can't decide. They all took risks....but if I had to choose Skeeter.

2. Somewhat. She had to know better on some level.....but, we are a product of our childhood. I'm torn on this one, too. I'd like to say we should all have the strength of Rosa Parks and do what's right.....regardless of society......but not everyone can do that.

3. Certainly a creative option!

4. Minny. Heartbreaking at times, but so gutsy.

Jeannette Pucella said...

I think Abilene was the strongest character to me because of her unending love for the children she cared for, her own dead son, and, it seemed to me, for humanity in general. Abilene's spirit was so gentle, she never seemed to wish anyone any harm, in spite of the dehumanizing way that she was treated. And she had irrepressible hope, always, that things could get better.

I really don't think that Miss Hilly's generation is an excuse for her behavior because clearly, Miss Skeeter was from the same generation, and it is because of people like Skeeter that perceptions and behaviors have changed for the better over the years. Miss Hilly was unnecessarily cruel and her behavior seemed fear driven and small minded to me.

Not cool! Minny's revenge was almost a little funny to me, but not really. I just think that's disgusting! But, I do think her behavior is forgivable because she was suffering under the control of Miss Hilly, and she really had no other way to lash out.

I preferred Abilene's perspective because she spent little time narrating about herself, instead focusing on her concerns for Mae Mobley, Minnie, and Skeeter. She was so incredibly selfless and thoughtful of others. It was inspiring, astounding, and admirable to me. Reading from her perspective gave me a more thorough understanding because she was less judgmental than the others.

I have to say though, that the passages that I enjoyed most were the ones with Miss Celia from Sugar Ditch. I think I identified with her, because of the way I was raised with Junior League, Debutane crap, Sorority crap... clubs, clubs, clubs... exclusivity.. so many were shunned... that was never cool with me, and I think ultimately that mindset was a huge reason why I fled my Baton Rouge life when I was nineteen. I was fully expected to be slim, pretty, socialize with the "right" people, marry rich... and I was told as much.

It was a mean, close minded way to live, and not fun for me. So now, I'm a hippie living on my boat with my boy from North Carolina. And when my grandmother, who I love dearly, asks me, "But, Dahlin, who are his people? (this is code for "what is his pedigree?" I happily have absolutely no satisfactory answer for her... ; )

Jeannette Pucella said...

OMG, sorry my comment was so long! I had no idea!

starnes family said...

Don't be sorry, Jenna!

And, for you peeps still getting to know her......she was a Debutante in the old south.....Louisiana. So not you, J......I still remember your debutante ball!

You're living your dream........proud of you!

donatelli98 said...

Tough questions. I really loved the book. I think it was a great way to show the good, the bad and the ugly about life for some African American women back then. I loved how she had so many diverse characters ... Minnie, Celia, Abilene, Hateful Hilly, Skeeter, etc.

1. Strongest character - toss up between Abilene and Skeeter. Abilene dealt with so much adversity in her life but still loved mae Mobley unconditionally - especially when her mother wouldn't. She risked her life and job to tell the truth. Skeeter because she risked everything she knew - her way of life to write the story. She grew so much as a person throughout the book. You could see her become a better person as the chapters went on.

2. I don't know if I could forgive Hilly. Yes to her defense she was brought up in a different generation but she was just downright mean and sometimes those things aren't forgivable in my book.

3. I think Minnie's revenge was classic. No one was physically injured but the embarassment enable justice to be served (to some extent).

4. I liked Abilene's perspective. Somehow she was able to stand tall through adversity but still love those babies she took care of.

Merry Mack said...

I just loved this book. It was heart touching, heart breaking, infuriating and such a great multiple perspective of the time.

1. Skeeter is my favorite character. I identified with her so much. I admired her bravery and individualism.

2. I absolutely do not think Miss Hilly's behavior is excusable regardless of her upbringing. Her spirit is mean. Regardless of the time period, place and upbringing, we all know people like this and they are terrible humans. I can't find excuses for people like this.

3. I like to pretend that Minny's revenge didn't happen. It is creative, but so disgusting and yet deserving at the same time. I like the person who said no one was really harmed, this is a good point. Humiliation is sometimes good revenge.

4. I really love Abiliene in this book. I love her perspective, her nature and soft kindness, but I have to say I really loved Skeeter's point of view.

I do have to add that I really loved the addition of Celia. I loved her character and story. So very interesting.

I also found myself shocked at people's stupidity, their following nature and the hate during this period of time.

I so want to continue book club but with school starting I am not sure if I will be successful. I have heard Little Bee by Chris Cleave is great.

The Lenzers said...

i missed this one, one i am totally in though!

Jeannette Pucella said...

Forgot to leave a vote for the next book, ummmmmmmm, I don't know what's out there really. I'm open to anything at all. I'd like to read Jeannette Walls newest, "Broke Down Horses"

The Potters said...

Loved this book. But it was heartwrenching...

2. Miss Hilly's behavior was not excusable (in my opinion) and I don't care which generation she was from. There's still a morality aspect to every decision/behavior that she should've known between wrong and right.

3. Gross.

4. Abilene was my favorite. She just seemed so real. If I ever had a mammy, I'd wish it was her.

Lauren W said...

Okay, here's my two cents. I am not going to go in order of your questions, because I feel like being rebellious this morning.

1. About the whole, "Is Hilly excused?" notion. I say, No. Well, to some extent she is. I grew up in the DEEP South. I am from Montgomery, Alabama which is about as close to Jackson, Mississippi as you can get. My grandmother is the same age as Ms. Hilly. We've talked a lot about the bus boycott and life back then and I can say that my sweet grandmother would have NEVER treated anyone that way. My grandfather probably would have, but my grandmother loved everyone and she said that during the boycott she would just drive across town to pick up her maid whereas a lot of her friends (I'm sure) would never have done that.

My grandmother didn't mind having her maid in her in her car. I would hope that my grandmother would be one of the kind ladies the maids described. The one who treated them like family. I hope.

2. My disappointment with this novel was the character of Cecelia. Is that how you spell it? I don't have the book in front of me. I loved her the first part of the book and then she just disappeared. I really wish they had done more with her. I am so glad she befriended Minny, but I wanted her to join forces with Skeeter and take them all down. I wanted her to have a huge scene at the end with Hilly, but I think the author just kind of let her go.

3. The only other thing I wish is that Elizabeth had stood up to Hilly. I know it was a book and so you needed protagonists and antagonists, but it seems that you either had to be-

a. Hilly- a stuck up, prejudiced, and mean Junior Leaguer


b. Skeeter- a hippie chick who didn't fit in and needed to move to NYC to be free.

I wish there could have been a character (like Elizabeth) who was brought up in that society, remained friends with everyone, knew it was wrong, and stood up without having to write an expose or move across the country.

Okay, I'm done. Favorite character? Mae Mobley. Because she reminded me of my daughter. And Abilene, of course :-)

SASS said...

My post on The Help:

1. This is a tough one. They were all strong in their own ways. I think Aibileen, though.

2. Fuck no. Clueless bitch.

3. The Terrible Awful. Ha! A great way to keep the book a secret, for sure. Minny was smart to add that for their protection. Gutsy. I would have done something humiliating, too. She was just downright mean-spirited. I can't stand it.

4. All 3. Although Minny pissed me off a lot for staying with Leroy. I couldn't get enough of Skeeter and Aibilene. Especially together.

I'm in for anything on the next read!

starnes family said...

I, too, thought Celia was an interesting character and I was impressed with her growth in the book.

Lauren, love how you want to re-write it!

Yall be sure to check out the link I Sass's blog......some great quotes.

caroline said...

Hmmm. A few notes. I have to disclose that I read this book while recovering from the darkest spot in my life thus far. Although it returned my mind to normalcy (whatever that means), it brings up icky personal memories, too.

I suppose my fav character was Skeeter, and not because she's white like me and she's the closest one I can relate to. It was her relentless questioning while struggling at the same time. MLK said, "If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem." That quote could be applied to my life and Skeeter's life on a daily basis.

Loved loved loved the pie incident! It took me by surprise and I remember retelling it to Ryan, and he didn't get it. Guess you had to read it.

All in all, this book was definitely one to recommend. Now it sits as a trophy on my shelf, waiting to be enjoyed by my next friend.

Teacher Man said...

1.1. Who would you rate the strongest of the three characters? Why?

I would rate Aibileen as the strongest of the three characters. In a way, she is like an iceberg, there is a lot going on beneath the surface that you don't see. She shows a steady but silent determination. As the reader listens to Aibileen's thoughts we see how much she loves the white children she has raised and how much she despises the adults that they become. This is Aibileen's dichotomy. We feel what she feels when she reminisces about her son who was recently murdered. Yet through it all, she keeps going on, never rocking the boat. At least not until Skeeter comes along. It is then that we some of her real strength and determination.

Really, all three characters so a great deal of strength, and all of them step well outside their comfort zones in the telling of this narrative.

2.. Miss Hilly......unfortunately not a stretch of character. Because she lived in a different generation, is her behavior forgivable?

I don't find her behavior forgivable at all. I'm still saddened at times by older relatives and their attitudes towards African Americans. I love my grandmother dearly, and I know she would never treat anyone unfairly, but every now and then I still hear the N word come out of her mouth. I often wonder who my sons will hear first speak the N word, my family or my wife's family?
3. What did you think of Minny's revenge?

Minny's revenge, was, in a word, delicious. :) At first it kind of grossed me out, but when Hilly's mother laughed at her when she found out what was in the pie, I laughed, too. I'll never forget 'two slice Hilly'.

4. Which character's perspective (or narration) did you prefer?

I think I've already established my preference for Aibileen.

I will definitely be reading this book again.