Tuesday, May 18, 2010
47. the HELP
Kathryn Sockettt 2009
Miss Skeeter is a young white woman fresh out of college in 1962 writing her first book. She has convinced Aibileen, Minny and other black helps in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi to help her write the book, and finally voice the injustices and maltreatment they have suffered. It is funny, poignant, heartwarming and triumphant.
"Mae Mobley was born on a early Sunday morning in August, 1960. A church baby we like to call it. Taking care a white babies, that's what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning."
"You're the smartest one in class, Aibileen...And the only way you're going to keep sharp is to read and write every day."
"The thing is though, if I start praying for Miss Skeeter, I know that conversation gone continue the next time I see her. And the next and the next. Cause that's the way prayer do. It's like electricity, it keeps things going."
"Rule Number Two: don't you ever let that White Lady find you sitting on her toilet. I don't care if you've got to go so bad it's coming our of your hairbraids. If there's not one out back for the help, you find yourself a time when she's not there in a bathroom she doesn't use."
"That's right, Crisco. Spread this on a baby's bottom, you won't even know what diaper rash is...Shoot, I seen ladies rub it under they eyes and they husband's scaly feet...Clean the goo from a price tag, take the squeak out a door hinge. Lights get cut off, stick a wick in it and burn it like a candle."
"You included in your letter that you "immensely enjoy writing." When you're not making mimeographs or fixing your boss's coffee, look around, investigate, and write. Don't waste your time on the obvious things. Write about what disturbs you, particularly if it bothers no one else."
"Once upon a time they was two little girls...One girl had black skin, one girl had white...Well, let's see. You got hair, I got hair...I got nose, you got nose... I got toes, you got toes...So we's the same. Just different color..."
"Everyone knows how we white people feel, the glorified Mammy figure who dedicates her whole life to a white family. Margaret Mitchell covered that. But no one ever asked Mammy how she felt about it."
"Hilly Holbrook introduces the Home Help Sanitation Initiative. A disease preventative measure. Low-cost bathroom installation in your garage or shed, for homes without such an important fixture."
"White can become permanently disabled by nearly all of these diseases because we lack immunities colored carry in their dark pigmentation."
"Books shall not be interchangeable between the white and colored schools, but shall continue to be used by the race first using them."
"See, I think if God had intended for white people and colored people to be this close together for so much of the day, he would've made us color blind. and while Miss Celia's grinning and "good morning" and "glad to see"-ing me, I'm wondering, how did she get this far in life without knowing where the lines are drawn?"
"But here's the thing: I like telling stories. It feels like I'm doing something about it. When I leave, the concrete in my chest has loosened, melted down so I can breathe for a few days."
"I had some ideas while I was away. Aibileen, I think we should lead with your chapter first...And then Louvenia's we'll switch with Faye Belle's story, since we don't want three dramatic stories in a row. The middle we'll sort out later, but Minny, I think your section should definitely come last."
"Three Alabama Slammers later, the winners of the silent auction are announced...Tablecloths and nightgowns with the lace...Odd sterling servers...Then there are the desserts: cakes, slabs of pralines, divinity fudge. And of course, Minny's pie."
"Maybe I ought to keep writing, not just for the paper, but something else, about all the people I know and the things i seen and done. Maybe I ain't too old to start over, I think and I laugh and cry at the same time at this. Cause just last night I though I was finished with everything new."
Personal Note: Read and finished the book on an airplane en route from Detroit Airport to La Guardia, NY, February 26, 2010. The flight that was supposed to be an hour took 5 hours. A severe snowstorm prevented us from landing and then we had to be diverted to Albany, NY for a gas stop. I didn't mind it too much because I was enjoying the book.