The Help by Kathryn Stockett takes place during the 1960s in Jackson Mississippi. During this period, we see the segregation of blacks dominated by the white supremacy in southern United States. In the novel, Kathryn Stockett uses the character of Skeeter Phelan, an educated white lady who acts on her rebellious nature by breaking the stereotype of segregation in society. She achieves this by creating a unique bond with the black maids, by not living a stereotypical white life, and by writing about another race to help end discrimination.
Everyone makes a picture in their mind of how a person should behave round their surroundings, but when someone breaks that image it becomes very hard to accept them. To begin with, Skeeter’s relationship with the maids in Jackson, Mississippi is different than the way other women treat the African Americans; Skeeter treats them with respect, and equality. The readers are able to see Skeeter’s relationship with Aibileen as the story progresses. Skeeter says, “Sometimes, I don’t know if this was worth it. If something happens to you… how am I going to live with that, knowing it was because of me? ” (Stockett, 512).
Skeeter still cares for Aibileen and all the ther maids, since they sacrificed themselves to help her complete the book. Being a white lady, society expects her to use the black women for her own selfish reasons. However, Skeeter was given the opportunity to leave, but she did not take it. This is because she did not want to leave Aibileen all alone to fight for African American rights. Earlier in the Story, Skeeter’s relationship with her own maid, Constantine is seen by the readers. Skeeter thinks, “I press my hand on my forehead. I can’t help but think about Constantine. I never thanked her, not properly.
It never occurred to me I wouldn’t have the hance” (306). This is significant because although Skeeter was abandoned by Constantine, she still cared for her, and wanted her to be safe. She wanted to thank Constantine for everything, but now that she knows she will never be able to tell her, she regrets not saying it in the first place. Skeeter’s relationship with the black maids proves that she is trying to ignore the thick line that separates both races, and become someone unique. Adding on, in this town it is expected a white woman grows up to get married. Skeeter is being forced by her friends and family to find a man and then marry him.
Early in the story, Miss Hilly tries to set Skeeter up with Stuart Whitworth. Hilly orders Skeeter, “Then make room… because this is pretty darn important” (71). Skeeter wants to follow her dreams and become a writer, but everyone close to Skeeter is trying to find her a man that she would spend the rest of her life with. Everyone wants to get Skeeter married as soon as possible since society expects her to get married after high school. Although Skeeter does not want to get married, she agrees to go on a blind date with Stuart, but the little hope she had left in finding a an was ruined, due to the way Stuart acted on their first date.
This shows that Skeeter would rather spend time to herself, than on another man. Later in the story, when Skeeter left for University, her mother, Charlotte wanted Skeeter to come back with a man, like every other woman in town. Skeeter thinks, “I SKIPPED MY GRADUATION CEREMONY at Ole Miss. All my close friends had dropped out to get married and I didn’t see the point in making Mama and Daddy drive three hours just to watch me walk across a stage, when what Mother really wanted was to watch me walk down the aisle” (80). This is significant because the readers learn that Charlotte wants Skeeter to get married and settle down.
Her mother wants her to be like all the other white women in Jackson that went to study, but dropped out to get married. However, Skeeter is different than the others, she wants to become someone important before dedicating her life to a man. Skeeter breaks free from what the white society expects her to be by picking her career over a husband. Additionally, Skeeter understood that the book she began to write was to allow the society to see that discrimination based n the color of skin is pointless and people should not be judged based on that characteristic.
As Skeeter spends time talking to the black maids, she feels that there is no point in writing the book. However, when she listens to Louvenia’s story about white lady helping her grandson, she gains hope that the book might encourage societal norms to change. Skeeter says, “Wasn’t that the point of the book? For women to realize, we are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as l’d thought” (492). Skeeter finally identifies the reasons why she anted to write the book, she knew that it had to be done, but didn’t know why she was the one taking a stand.
This is a significant part in the story because Skeeter had given up on the book, and then when she hears Louvenia’s story, she gets a little hope that the book may help. All Skeeter needed was a story to encourage her to continue writing, and it was done by an African-American maid. Earlier in the story, Skeeter had lost faith due to Elaine Stein ordering her to finish the book by December 21st and Skeeter thinks it is impossible. Skeeter says, I will never make this deadline, my friends despise me, Stuart is gone, Mother is.. (414).
Skeeter’s life is going downhill; her friends despise her, she thinks that she will not make the deadline, Stuart left her, and her mother is sick. This is a turning point, as it initiates what is considered the most amusing part of the book: where secrets are revealed to Skeeter about Constantine, Minny’s pie, and her friends. Skeeter’s life changes and it is not as simple as the other white woman. She is trying to go against societal norms which are causing her to be hated by any people.
Skeeter knows that if the book goes out, and people identify her as the author, her reputation will be destroyed. A small action that she did to remove discrimination in Jackson will harm her entire family. Skeeter is trying to change society and their beliefs which initiates her first attempt to break free from the stereotype that society imposes. “Stereotypes are fast and easy but they are lies, and the truth takes its time” (Deb Caletti). This universal quote shows how easy it is for people to accept the societal harms, and abide the ules and regulations that society imposed on them.
In the novel, Skeeter Phelan’s role in The Help is portrayed in a beautiful way, a character that slowly breaks free from the stereotype that she is playing. This is clearly shows by the way Skeeter treats the maids in Jackson, Mississippi, the way she lived her life, and writing a book to stop segregation. In conclusion, a stereotype in society can easily be broken; Skeeter’s dream in having a change in societal norms encouraged her to go against her race and fight for a change she has always wanted.