Bookmarks: More than just maids
“The Help” is told from the point of view of three women living in Jackson, Miss. in the 1960s, where racism lines are clearly defined.
Aibileen has been a maid and nanny for 17 families and vividly remembers all the children she helped raise.
Minny is the former maid of the “Queen Bee” of Jackson, until her sass consistently gets her in trouble and finally fired. Eugenia is known as Skeeter to everyone she has grown up with, a nickname she got for her bony frame that makes her look like a mosquito.
These women tell and type the stories of all the help in Jackson—the elderly ladies who remember picking cotton and the young girls just out of middle school who are learning the ropes of being a maid.
They tell the good stories of the beloved help who are as much a part of the families as the children they raise, the general condescension that the rich white people felt they were entitled to.
Justice is served when the tell-all book, attributed to “Anonymous,” becomes a best-seller and Jackson is in a silent uproar with all the “matrons” trying to figure out which chapter was about which woman, and which maid brought their dirty laundry to light.
In the grand scheme of civil rights, this tell-all was a small victory in a culture built on a divide determined by color and class, but with the effort of these women, a small current began to flow. “The Help” doesn’t end with the publishing of the tell-all, but ends with a feeling that even though the country is getting into what would be a political mess, the community of maids, whether the matrons like it or not, is going to be OK.