Social Injustice in The Help The help, a novel by Kathryn stockett, is a book about two maids, with the help and encouragement of one white woman, trying to publish their experiences working for white families. Kathryn stockett wrote this novel during a time of intense racial turmoil, discrimination, and unfair government policies. In order to develop The Help, Kathryn Stockett had to alter situations that actually occurred in this time and develop her theme to get the concept of social injustice across to her readers.
In The Help, the theme of social injustice is proven through the gender roles, the status of the people, and racism seen throughout the novel. In The Help, the themes of education and violence could be seen as more apparent than social injustice. The theme of education is highlighted in multiple occasions throughout the novel. At one point in the novel, someone says, “You’re the smartest one in my class, Aibileen, and the only way you’re going to stay sharp is to write every day. ” (The Help 2. 126) Then later in the chapter aibileen says, “so I start writing my prayers down instead a sayin em.
But nobody call me smart since. (The Help 2. 127) This shows that Aibileen was concerned with her education, because she decided to write her prayers down instead of speaking them based on a casual suggestion from an acquaintance. Another less obvious but still relevant example of education being the main theme in The Help is the pronunciation throughout the novel. Due to the lack of education many of the African Americans speak differently therefore proving “that pronunciation may evoke and create a social identity” (Aint nothing like the real thing 3).
The African Americans pronunciation in the novel, due to their lack of ducation, is so extreme that it creates an identity. The theme of violence is displayed multiple times throughout the course of the novel. Many people were tense and fearful during this time. People’s “usual reaction was not advice to loves one’s neighbor as one’s self. ” (Hall, H. Gatson 3) Instead of presenting flowers in their foyers, they would stash guns out of fear for their own safety. According to Pearl McHaney, “terror and violence were not limited to political marches or assassinations” (Kathryn Stocketts A Postmodern 3) This demonstrates that violence was everywhere.
The idea that the themes of education and violence are seen in the novel are true. However, they are not supported heavily and consistently throughout the novel. Another theme such as social injustice is much more prevalent. “These is white rules. I don’t know which ones you following and which ones you ain’t. ” (The Help 145) This line shows that the overwhelming social norm of the south was injustice to anyone and everyone. Most everyone in the novel acts in ways that follow the laws in place restricting blacks or even genders in certain situations.
The laws in place at the time limit the natural rights we as humans are born with. Social injustice in The Help can be seen in multiple occasions through the gender roles of the society. According to Gatson Hall, “there is also an effective contrast between the black help as breadwinners in their families and middle-class white women unhappily unemployed as a result of prejudice. ” (Hall, H. Gatson 2) Kathryn Stockett demonstrates the injustice in the gender roles by proving that the women are unhappy-ily unemployed. This leads you to believe that women are treated as less than men creating the unhappiness as described by Gatson.
Another example of injustice in the gender roles is when Mrs. Celia Foote says “oh, we’re gonna have some kids. [… ] I mean, kids is the only thing worth living for. ” (The Help 33) Mrs. Celia says this with the firm belief that the purpose of her and all the other women is to reproduce and carry on the family name. This shows the harsh mistreatment of women in the society. This stress of continuing a family name is not harshly enforced on the man because he is not the one required to hold the baby for nine months.
Mrs. Celia was experiencing problems with miscarriages and she became extremely burdened with the responsibility of continuing Mr. Footes family name. This situation created a contrast in the gender roles of the society. The people of Jackson, Mississippi during the course of the novel demonstrate social injustice through their class-based society. Stockett explained in her novel “she couldn’t have minny speaking like a white socialite. ” (Kathryn Stockett a Postmodern 4) This shows that social classes did exist and that they carried a heavy weight.
It shows that poor woman could not openly out-smart a rich woman. If such a situation did occur then, generally, the poor woman would be shunned or fired from her job because the rich lady could not risk losing her place in society. FosterSingletary states that “like his father, Stuart is not penalized for refusing to confront the class, race, and gender issues of the day. ” (Foster-Singletary 3) Stuart holds a high rank in Jackson, Mississippi. He does not belittle“the help” in any situations during the book, which during this time would be practically unheard of.
However, just because of his rank in society he was made the “exception” and received no punishment or judgment from his friends. This shows injustice in not only the upper class but the lower class as well because of the fact that belittling “the help” was so normal. Racism is seen throughout the novel in a vast amount of situations which validates the claim that the principal theme of The Help is social injustice. Kathryn Stockett had to use racism in order to develop the time period and prove the idea that racism had become more so a lifestyle than a concept.
Foster-Singletary says that “black bodies are marked as alien so much that they seem to be slightly less than human. ” (Foster-Singletary 2) This statement shows the cruelty of the racist culture. He says this to establish the idea that african Americans are not considered people and will not treated as if they are human. Another example of the advanced level of racism is when Hilly comes up with a solution to one her problems;”A bill that requires every white home to have a separate bathroom for the colored help. (The Help 9)
Hilly finds it disgusting that her “help” uses the same bathroom as her family. The bathroom is already known as a place of privacy and also as a necessity for everyone. However, since the “black bodies” are less human than white people, there must be a separate bathroom for them. Even though there is already a huge gap in the cultures due to harsh laws and cultures, Hilly finds it necessary to establish even more social injustice for the “the help”. The Help has multiple themes seen throughout the course of the novel. The most relevant and apparent is the theme of social injustice.
It is proven through gender roles, social status, and racism. The time period and setting also prove that the theme, in fact, is social injustice. In some situations the novel could mislead you to believing the principal theme is education or even violence. Regardless of the evidence backing the idea that education or violence are the main themes, Kathryn Stockett gives stronger support for the theme of social injustice. However, if you read deeper and attempt to understand the novel, the theme of social injustice becomes more dominant.