Research Paper on The Help: Examining Postcolonial Representations of Race

Paper Type:  Research paper
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1160 Words
Date:  2023-01-26

The research tries to prove that "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett shows how Black people have been presented condescendingly. The postcolonial view has been used throughout the context to analyze the book. Characters mentioned in the background such as Aibileen, Minny, and Miss Skeeter have used to represent differences which exist among people in different races. The novel presents diversity a wide diversity through its characters in a fictions manner. "Other" has been used to refer to colored people while the white is viewed as the norm.

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"Ever morning, until you dead in the ground, you gone have to make this decision ... you gone have to ask yourself, Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today?" (Stockett 63). Having been released in early 2009, the book was a bestseller. The book became successfully popular when its movie was released in 2011. The book consists of three characters; two black maids, Minny and Aibileen and a white journalist Miss Skeeter. The journalist Miss Skeeter has an intention of writing about the relationships existing between the two maids and their employers within help dimensions a thing seldom tried in earlier writings. For Miss Skeeter to achieve her goal in writing the book, the two maids give a narration of their lives. A better understanding of the women is achieved throughout the story since each chapter represents a narration of one of them.

Help is a novel which is unusual in nature. This particular work of fiction presented have a close tie to political and social issues. Racism has been the central theme revisited, a topic which has a complicated approach within decades. Discussion about racism appears to be crucial and of great sense since it has always been there. Giving a debate about racism by the author Stockett can be viewed to be of great challenge focusing on her origin Southern US, especially when trying to address issues related to black people. Theoretically and imaginary work appears to be cultivated and moving, though there is many stereotypes in it and great patronizing insolence towards the two black characters, which emphasizes a "us and them" feeling which sounds problematic for the narration. There is a clear indication that the author Stockett is aware of the various challenges surrounding her when she says " what am sure about is this: I don't presume to think that I know what it felt like to be a black woman in Mississippi, especially in the 1960s" (Stockett 451).

The research aims to investigate the extent at which the three characters have been represented Minny, Aibileen and Miss Skeeter; the whites have been presented as superior making efforts in helping the objectified and passive people of color. There have been claims by Kathryn Stockett, the author of the book that, her intention in writing the book was to give a highlight about the whites and the black people relationships in the early 1960s through the inclusion of two main characters from Africa, the maids. Later within the novel, the author states that " I was scared, a lot of the time, that I was crossing a terrible line, writing in the voice of a black person. I was afraid I would fail to describe a relationship that was so intensely influential in my life, so loving, so grossly stereotyped in American history and literature" (Stockett 450). She later names her " too little, too late," which perhaps suits to be the best title for the work, because the contradictions raising within the novel " The help" create an ambiguity towards her work.

How the black maids have been represented within the novel " The Help" is diminishing. Having written several lines concerning her scary towards failing to describe the relationship does not accredit the acceptance of her work. In that perspective, I consider this novel as a patronizing work in which a white writer makes an effort to address on racism, and the results about the presentation take a u-turn in the representation of the black people accessing help from a white. Within the context, there is polite and treatment of others with condescension. The paper focuses on the black maids who have been objectified.

The author presents the colored women as "ignorant, victimized, family-oriented, domestic, tradition-bound, uneducated and poor" who are "in contrast to the implicit self-representation of western women who are modern, freedom to make decisions, having control of the bodies and sexualities and educated" (Stockett 337). Such assumptions between whites and blacks are essential in the analysis of fiction. In the article, the author stresses the difference between the people and "othering" "Dirty South: The Help and the problem of Black Bodies." Representation of events within the novel enlarges the difference between the Black and the Whites. This is evident in the chapter describing Minny, she is representing an ultimate blackness, she can't have control of her mouth. " she is too much- too much woman to be a lady, too much mouth for a maid, too black for her excellent" (Stockett 100). Reviewers such as Foster-Singletary concludes that the author must have been a racist especially by portraying black women as individuals who can't speak out for themselves, but rather stand to be represented (106), as well as their humanity acting to deny them a sense of humanity. Another book reviewer Wallace-Sanders quotes "Every Child Left Behind. The many invincible Children in The Help."

The chapters written from Minny's or Aibileen's viewpoint only reflect little about their personal lives as working mothers or black women. This contradicts the hypothesis that "whiteness hardly recognized as an explicit identity, except about those excluded' As argued by Chris Weedon.

Stockett's attempts to come up with the voices of the two maids and the white seems to be a challenging task. Views from Kinga Varga Dubai such as who can you speak for without sounding patronizing? Is it even a possible task? These vie tend to give an emphasize on imperialism, which occurs when someone attempts to speak for those who are suppressed to give views by themselves. In The Help, Miss Skeeter has been used to provide voices for the two maids, Minny and Aibileen, though Megan argues that, as a reader, it's clear that Aibileen and Minny are the ones who give Miss Skeeter a voice (Jones 18-19). Regardless of the views, Miss Skeeter is a hero for Black people's struggle representing a well-educated white with a good personality.


The Help is work of fiction representing the struggles of the black they get while trying to express themselves, the fictitious characters and their discussions bring out an in-depth understanding of racism as well as other factors holding global progression.

Works Cited

McHaney, Pearl. "Kathryn Stockett's postmodern first novel." Southern Cultures 20.1 (2014): 77-92.Sladkova, P. (2013). Non-Standard English Varieties in Literary Translation: "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett (Doctoral dissertation, Masaryk University, Faculty of Arts).

Smith, Valerie. "Black Women's Memories and Help." Southern Cultures 20.1 (2014): 26-37.

Foster-Singletary, Tikenya. "Dirty South: The Help and the Problem of Black Bodies." Southern Quarterly 49.4 (2012): 95.

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Research Paper on The Help: Examining Postcolonial Representations of Race. (2023, Jan 26). Retrieved from

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