The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Location: Ms. Klein's Room

Group 1:
Amy Wasielewski, Emily Lunt, Kate Myers, McKenzie Gray, Nicole Hoehle, Erica Klein

Discussion Agenda

• Introductions

• Whip:
– did you like the book?
– what was your favorite scene?
– who was your favorite character?
– what was your opinion on the ending?
– do you still have any questions about the book?
- have you seen the movie?

* Describe in ten words or less what the book is about. Work in pairs and then discuss with the whole group.

• Run Through Characters

Compare/contrast characters
• What do you think of Hilly? What is it that makes her a villain?
• What were the key differences between the three main characters?
• Who would you consider the most important character and/or who did the book focus on the most?

Share passages that illustrate:
• What part affected you the most?
• What were the major issues in the novel?
• Find a passage that can be analyzed from another character’s point of view, ex.

Themes: racism, equality, friendship, raising a child
• Which theme stood out to you the most in the book?

Point of View Discussion
- The Benefit scene/chapter, how is this written differently than the rest of the book?
- Did you enjoy reading the scene without a specific narrarrator?
- Why do you think that author decided to do this?

Writing Style
• Skeeter vs. Minny or Aibileen

• Have you seen the movie? Read any similar books?

Lingering Questions/Comments:
- about interpretations, characters, scenes, etc.

• Final thoughts
-Who would you recommended this to?

• All in all, what do you think Kathryn Stockett wanted us to take from The Help?

Emily Lunt
Ms. Tommaso
The Help Creative Writing

Miss Skeeter approached us as the lights were dimming. Said she’d had some great idea, making a statement against Miss Hilly, said it wouldn’t look deliberate. It’d look like a typo. She wanted to make a statement about Hilly’s toilet project, wanted us to help.

We agreed to help, had to wait till the cover of dark and people was sleeping. Every noise was amplified by thousands, getting those toilets over to Miss Hilly’s house. Just waiting for someone to catch is in a white neighborhood. We afraid of the police, always ready to arrest or shoot on sight. We afraid of waking up the neighbors with our trucks and our boots. Our clanking around whenever something moves wrong. We afraid they gonna take out their shotguns and blind fire into the crowd of us.

What would happen in Miss Hilly were to come home early? See us moving about in her yard. She’d take it out on our families after we been shot by the husbands. She’d have all of ‘em out on the streets so fast they’d barely see it coming. Or maybe she’d do it real slow, taking our lives apart piece by piece.

These toilets could be the end of us. This protest hidden as a typo to the common eye. Could be the end of Miss Skeeter to, but I’m not sure she understands that. She don’t know or don’t care. Us, we know, but we do it anyway. We speak out silently to the people. We ain’t dirt, we worth something. Because if we don’t speak out with the rest of our people, whose gonna get the point across down here?

Nicole Hoehle
Ms. Tommaso
The Help Creative Writing: Life in New York City

I check my watch for the third time in the last five minutes, then tighten my grip on the subway rail as it surges forward. A man behind me coughs and a woman in front of me elbows my side as she searches in her bag. I barely notice, I'm too busy imagining the look on Robert's face when I come to work late. He'll say something in his gruff voice about the fact that I'm so lucky to have this job and that I should treat it more seriously.
I push my way near the doors and get off at the next stop. After walking less than a block, there I am. There is the familiar Harper's Magazine sign in bold black letters casting a shadow on the sidewalk. I think how strange it is that I have only been working as Robert's assistant for a year as I get in the elevator and press floor three.
I take a second to flatten my curls, which have sprung up in the heat. I fix my wrinkled skirt, and just like that the doors open and the sounds of the busy newsroom greet me. The nervous look that had been on my face is gone and I slap on a smile, weaving through rows of cubicles while greeting coworkers hastily. Trying my best not to seem as if I'm in a rush, I turn sharply around the corner to get to Robert's office. Entering, I see him sitting at his desk and looking out of the window onto the street below.
His back is to me, and he does not turn as I knock lightly on the doorframe. The sun is making his hair look especially gray as it streams into the room. “Mr. Jennings? I'm sorry I'm late, I-” stopping short, I finally realize that something must be wrong. He hasn't moved at all. “Robert, is something the matter?” Thoroughly worried, I forget my formality. Maybe I'm mistaken, is he sleeping?
Just as my hand is reaching out to tap his shoulder, Robert clears his throat and turns around in his chair, “I received an interesting call today Eugenia. From a woman I didn't recognized, told me her name was... Abby-Lee or something.” My heart stopped, Aibileen? Something is in his hands, he had been reading something. “She said she wanted to make sure that I 'knew what sort of writer you were', I have to say that she had quite an interesting story for me. We had a nice long talk.” He chuckles lightly. I've never heard this man chuckle before now.
At this he tosses a small book onto the desk between us. I gaze for a moment at those lovely letters, the familiar dove is still bound upward, eyes wide open. “She suggested I read this book, I'd heard of it before, some small-town author from Mississippi I thought. The woman said the name was, uh, Skeeter. Took me another minute to figure out just who she was talking about.” My eyes get blurry, I haven't realized how long it has been since I've seen the book.
I never expected Aibileen to take it upon herself to actually tell people that I was the one to conduct the interviews and put the stories together. It was a large risk to take. The anonymity is gone, but for some reason it is a refreshing feeling. Back home, Aibileen must have realized that it was the right choice. “Ideas like this, Eugenia, will make a great writer. Let's just say that I'll have you doing more than coffee runs and answering calls from now on.”
Robert's face betrays how proud he is for a moment as a smile spreads across his face. I see now that the binding of the book is worn from being read so many times, he must have loved it. Suddenly I can feel myself smiling as well. But it isn't either of our faces that has my mind captivated at the moment. My thoughts are wandering back to Aibileen, I can see her giving me an approving smile. Her eyes are sparkling and the Jackson sunlight is on my face. Only for a moment am I missing my friend when suddenly Robert is commanding my attention. “So that aside, I have a new idea of what your job here at Harper's should be, do you think you can handle a change?” I nod once, and draw myself up to my full height. Of course I can, I'm ready for whatever is next.

The Help
Kate Myers
12 September 2011
Ms. Lewis
Summer Reading writing

I go into the laundry room, hang my coat. I walk into the dinning room and Miss Hilly and Miss Leefolt are starring at me.
“ Aibileen, how dare you steal three pieces of my silver yesterday?” Miss Hilly stares and me. I take a deep breath. “ I didn’t steal your silver, I could have left some in the kitchen by accident.” I start to get chills up my spine. All of the sudden, I hear Miss Leefolt yell, “ She says that she didn’t steal it, Hilly so stop accusing her.” I go into the kitchen. My mind and heart are racing. I am trying to remember if I counted all of the silver before I put it in the felt. I always count the silver. I decide to call Ernestine. My hands are shaking as I dial the number. “ Hi Ernestine, I am wondering if you can count the silver in the felt for me.”
“ Aibileen,” Ernestine says, “ I just counted the silver and every piece is there.”
“ I can’t believe Hilly said that she was missing three silver from the felt. I knew I counted it this time. Thanks Ernestine.” I am so mad that Hilly thinks she could accuse me stealing. I just want to scream and yell at here for what she is trying to do.
That night when I get home, I am wondering what is gonna happen tomorrow. I am still shaken up by the whole idea that Miss Hilly was trying to frame me. I call Minny to help calm me down. “ Minny I have had the worst day. Miss Hilly tried to accuse me of stealing her missing silver.”
There was a moment of pause. “ Oh Aibileen, you should really give it her tomorrow.”
I suck in a breath. “ What should I do?”
“Aibileen,” Minny says,“ I would tell Hilly that you counted the silver and that she is a liar.”
The next day, I go to work with a lot of things on my plate. Once again the house is very quiet. I go into the dinning room where Hilly and Leefolt are talking. I am trying to get the nerve to tell Hilly what she did. My whole body is shaking. “ Hilly,” I say, “ how dare you try and frame for stealing your silver. You know that every single one your silver is there. You are a liar and want to be the one who has all of the power.”
“ Aibileen,” Hilly says, “ you are the liar, I counted the silver myself and ever piece is there. I am not a liar.”
“ Yes you are. I called Ernestine yesterday and she said that ever single piece of silver was in the felt. I counted it before I gave it back to you, ” I say screaming at Miss Hilly. I am praying that Li’l man isn’t hearing this discussion. “ Miss Leefolt,” I say, “ I am quitting because I don’t want to be treated like this and I feel that it is my time to leave.”
I hear Li’l man and Mae Mobley in the other room. I know this is going to be hard for the two of them, especially Mae. She is already crying and hanging on to my leg. “ Mae Mobley, you are my very last little girl that I am gonna take care of. You are a very special girl and your mama is gonna take care of you now.” I start crying as I look into her big brown eyes.
“Aaai-bee, don’t go!” Mae Mobley won’t stop crying.
I give her one last hug, and a goodbye kiss. I wipe the tears on her cute face. Then I give Li’l man a huge hug and a goodbye kiss too. I go the laundry room one last time to grab my coat and my pocketbook. As I walk out the back door, I look back and see Mae Mobley crying. As I walk down the sidewalk I start to cry knowing that I will never see those big brown eyes again and that sweet little girl. I am also feeling free of Miss Hilly, I am in power now over her now she can’t control me anymore. I keep on crying as I walk down the sidewalk. I feel very depressed that I won’t be caring for any little white girls anymore.

Amy Wasielewski
Mrs. Walsh
Honors Junior English: The Help Creative Assignment
12 September 2011
Ten Years Later: Aibileen
I am walking along the road in the white part a town. I haven’t cared for any babies ever since I was fired from Miss Leefolt. Minny still working for Miss Celia, but I just can’t work for no white lady no more. I mostly stay to myself and haven’t seen Miss Leefolt in ten years. Today’s different though. I can feel it.

All of a sudden, I see her across the street. She so tall and so much thinner than she was as a baby. I expect she walking to school because it’s so early in the morning. She all the way at the end of the street. I walk slow, so maybe I can look at her for a long time. Her hair so long.

There she is. She my last baby. I hope she remembers all the things I told her when she was little. I hope she still tell herself everday that she kind, she smart, and she important. Lord, we all knew she was gone end up like her mama.

Mae Mobley must be around thirteen years old. She walking closer now. I can see the features of her white face. Miss Leefolt always thought she was gone end up fat. Look at her now. She only a little plump. She just healthy compared to her stick-thin mama.

Now she getting real close to me. She watches the ground as she walks as though she thinks she gone trip on something. She gotta look up soon. I need her to see me even if she don’t recognize me.

She finally does it. She looks up and looks me straight in the eye. My heart pounds real hard inside my chest, but she looks away and keeps walking. I stop for a second, disappointed, but I realize I got to keep walking. I start to walk quick and glance quickly around to make sure no one saw me strangely stopping in the middle a the street.

I dare to look behind me to see if I can still see little Mae Mobley. As I do, I notice she hasn’t moved from her spot. She looks at me like she taking all of me in. She mouths, “Aibileen,” with her pink lips.

The corners of my mouth start twitching up, but before anything else happens, her mouth forms a big huge smile. She raises her hand real high and waves to me. People walking around us are looking. I nod my head, so I can seem real polite and turn to leave.

“No, wait!” she yells. I stop, frozen in my tracks. People are really starting to notice us now. I face her timidly. I don’t want no one to think I’m gone cause any trouble. She walking towards me real slow, and I can’t move. I am rooted to my spot. When she finally reaches me, she touches my arm lightly for a moment. Her eyes take in my face. I can’t believe she actually knows who I am. I was expecting just to walk past her, and that would have been enough for me. After a while she looks down as though she can’t believe she just stared at an old black lady like me for such a long time.

The next time she looks up, I see tears in her eyes. “Thank you,” she whispers. I nod curtly, take one last look in her eyes, and step away from her. I don’t know what to say, but as I turn to leave, I think a one thing I can say.

“You kind. You smart. You important. Don’t ever forget that,” I say with my back turned toward her. I peak over my shoulder to see her nod. She wipes her eyes, and this time I know I have to walk away.

I never saw my little Mae Mobley ever again.

McKenzie Gray
The Help
Scene from Miss Leefolt’s perspective (pg. 235-242)

“Don’t we have more towels, Aibileen?” I ask as I fix my hair in the mirror. The towel in Aibileen’s hands is fading and ratty. If I show up to the Jackson Country Club with this towel, it would be quite embarrassing. I’ve been nervous about this trip all morning. Hilly rarely invites us to these fancy country clubs, and we must look like members that are supposed to be there. As I grab the sun hat that matches my dress perfectly, the phone rings.
Aibileen picks it up, “Hey, Miss Skeeter–” She glances towards me. I know I should invite Skeeter to the Country Club, but I can’t help hearing Hilly’s voice in the back of head acting as my conscience, advising against it. I mouth Tell her I’m not here. I made the right choice. What would Hilly think if I brought her along with me? She’s a nuisance to William’s campaign carrying around those laws about negroes. She’s meddling in the wrong kind of stuff. There are some real racists out there, and she could get herself into trouble.
Once we arrive at the Country Club, I park in the back. I don’t want anybody noticing me. I search for Hilly at the pool, “Why, hello Hilly!” I say as I sit next to her on a lounge chair, “Wonderful day, isn’t it?”
“Yes, it sure is."
We talk about this and that. Hilly mentions how she can’t wait to get down to the coast. She tells me the latest updates on her work on William’s campaign and planning the Benefit. I nod along. We’re interrupted by Mae Mobley screaming, “Mommy! Look at me!” I turn to her and smile, slightly annoyed. Sometimes that girl can be such a hassle. As I return to my conversation with Hilly, I catch sight of Skeeter playing tennis behind us, and my heart skips a beat. Oh, Lord, what if she sees us? Just act normal. Keep talking to Hilly. Oh no, oh no she’s coming over.
“Hey, y’all” Skeeter said dripping with sweat.
I immediately stand up and try to cover up the horrible fact everyone was thinking, but wouldn’t mention.
“Hilly, are we...did something to upset you?”
Oh, Lord, she said it. I sit back down, pick up Hilly’s Good Housekeeping, and pretend to read. They begin to argue about the paraphernalia, as Hilly calls it, that she found in Skeeter’s bag. I do what I normally do whenever this kind of confrontation occurs; I avoid it. I feel that it’s best if people don’t talk about these controversial issues. It makes everything so uncomfortable. Why did Skeeter have to go and say that? Skeeter has always been like that: she’s always speaking her mind. It’s a characteristic that I’ve envied at times, but I’m kind of glad I don’t have.
Hilly keeps scolding Skeeter, talking about how negroes can’t swim in the same pools and touch the same food in the grocery store as white people. I’ve heard this speech from Hilly all the time, but for an instance, as I watch Aibileen play with Mae Mobley in the kiddie pool, I realize the wrong in what she is saying. I hate the way she is talking to Skeeter, one of my best friends. I become so fed up with Hilly that I want to stand and tell her everything I’ve been holding in for all of these years, but it’s only for an instance. The feeling fades, and I continue to pretend to read.