The Help based on the novel by kathryn stockett

Celia takes Minny on a tour around her house.

In the novel, Minny is suggested to Celia by Aibileen, and Minny arrives knowing that Celia does not talk to the League ladies or has anything to do with their talk, is shocked to find that Celia Foote is a very animated, jumpy, and lively young woman who does not seem to understand the established relationship between the help and the employers. Minny has had experiences with nasty women treating her terribly for years, so when Celia is super nice, letting Minny choose her hours and having her teach Celia how to cook, and even going so far as to sit with her to eat, Minny is taken aback. In the movie, Minny subdues herself to muttering things under her breath as Celia continually does nice things for Minny, even though Minny tries to tell her that that is not how the help/employer relationship is supposed to work. Celia, however, refuses to listen, and continues to treat Minny like a friend, even calling her her friend later in the movie.

Hilly arrives for bridge club.

Hilly Holbrook is quite obviously meant to be one of the most despicable human beings in the entire movie. She is rude, sneaky, racist, and will stop at nothing to get what she wants. At one point in the movie (and book), Hilly finds the Jim Crow laws Skeeter was reading and tells her to get rid of them, saying “There are real racists in this town. I can’t imagine what they’d do after finding you with these. I’m just looking out for you.” Hilly says “there are real racists in this town” and then continues to be horrible to every help she is seen with. She is bossy and inconsiderate to all of them, and she goes as far as to tell Minny go out in the storm to use the restroom, and even sends Yule May to jail after she asks Hilly for money to send both her twin boys to college. Hilly is representative, in this state, of many people in the 1960s who acted like this to people- simply because they like it. The fact is, Hilly seems to know that what she says and does is wrong, but she does it anyway- if Hilly didn’t know that what she said to the help she had was wrong, she would not have told Skeeter that there were “real racists” or that she had no business reading the Jim Crow laws.

Elizabeth arrives at Hilly's house to support her through the toilet incident.

Contrary to the previous claim, and Hilly Holbrook knowing that she was being a terrible person and enjoying it, Elizabeth Leefolt is much more oblivious to the fact that doing these things to the help is inhumane. Elizabeth is most obviously a crony to Hilly’s schemes; but unlike Skeeter, she does not realize how rude and wrong Hilly is being and follows her blindly. Elizabeth is kind enough to Aibileen, despite constantly leaving her daughter to her, and allows her to use the guest bathroom in the house. When Hilly insists that she put a new bathroom in the garage for Aibileen, Elizabeth does it in a heartbeat, convincing her husband to let her do it and then telling Aibileen as if it is a super exciting and wonderful thing for Aibileen to hear. Elizabeth cherishes her friendship with Hilly and her power in the League, using it in hopes that people will ignore the fact that she does not have nearly as much money as Hilly or Skeeter. Elizabeth is much more desperate to be accepted, so she blindly follows Hilly’s ideals as she thinks that is what Hilly will like, without stopping to think about whether or not it is morally correct.

Aibileen and Skeeter interview Minny for the book.

The Help was written by a white woman, Kathryn Stockett, who grew up in a house with a black maid. The movie as well, was done by a majority of white people. In movies that are set in a previous time period about defying stereotypes of racism, the people of color protagonists are usually accompanied by a white friend or two, who are the only white people on their side of their cause, being their “saving grace” in the face of their other white friends. The Help is not exempt to this, and the “saving grace” white friend comes in the form of Skeeter Phelan. Minny and Aibileen are black maids who work their jobs and never think anything different. Aibileen is quiet and tends to do whatever her employer tells her to, even when it comes to raising people’s children for them. Minny is more snappy, and isn’t afraid to not put up with any berating from her white employers. Life goes on until Skeeter comes back from college and convinces Aibileen and Minny to help her with a book documenting the lives and experiences of black maids in the deep South, something only thought of by Aibileen’s late son Treelore. Skeeter’s presence and determination to write the book is not only a depiction of how very few white people in the 1960s were supportive of the Civil Rights movement, but also a mechanism used by many white authors and producers when doing these movies to make them feel better about the things their great grandparents did being put into movie form, because they “weren’t all bad”, which is true, but seen way too often as the “saving grace” because apparently the people of color protagonists cannot do things themselves without being persecuted.

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