I have just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and all I have to say is Get your copy and start reading. You'll have a hard time putting it down. When I got too tired to finish the book two nights ago, I woke up early because the book was calling me. So I read the last few chapters at about 5 a.m.
It's the early 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi, and all the Junior League women and anybody who is anybody has help, a black maid who comes in to clean and take care of the children. Then one of the white women, the one who actually got her degree at Ole Miss instead of her MRS and who wants to be a writer, convinces some of the maids to tell her their stories of working for the white women. She hides names and the location and the book is accepted by a publisher.
At first I was a little annoyed that it took a white woman to get the stories out into the world, but I got over it. It's the black women who are the heart and the backbone of the book -- and of the families for whom they work. Some have painfully sad stories to tell, but some also tell stories of great kindness.
I think my favorite maid is Minny, who is always getting fired for sassing her employers, while at home her husband beats the crap out of her.
Minny: I lay there grinding my teeth, wondering, worrying. Leroy, he's onto something. And God knows what'll happen to me if he finds out. He knows about the book, everybody does, just not that his wife was a part of it, thank you. People probably assume I don't care if he finds out --oh I know what people think. They think big strong Minny, she sure can stand up for herself. But they don't know what a pathetic mess I turn into when Leroy's beating on me. I'm afraid to hit back. I'm afraid he'll leave me if I do. I know it makes no sense and I get so mad at myself for being so weak! How can I love a man who beats me raw? Why do I love a fool drinker? One time I asked him, "Why? Why are you hitting me?" He leaned down and looked me right in the face.
"If I didn't hit you, Minny, who knows what you become."
I was trapped in the corner of the bedroom like a dog. He was beating me with his belt. It was the first time I'd ever really thought about it.
Who knows what I could become, if Leroy would stop goddamn hitting me.
Yeah, if we're not beaten down the way these women are beaten down physically and emotionally, then who knows what we might become? We might actually have lives of our own.
Did I ever hit you?
You don't know? Or do you just pretend not to know? Is there such a thing as truth with you?
The therapist said I should let out my emotions and the only emotion I know how to have is anger.
And you don't care that I got home from the hospital this morning.
I'm sorry for when I hurt you, but . . . .
Oh, you don't mind that you hit me. You just don't want anybody to know.
I have enough sorry to last me the rest of my life. Now I just want a life and no more reason for sorry.
Time to read.
Infinities of love,