Monday, October 17, 2011

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Meeting Details:
   We are meeting at Karen's house on Thursday, November 3rd at 7:30 with discussion to begin at 8pm.  Karen will send out a reminder email one week before the meeting - please rsvp to her at that time.

Menu:  "Southern Comfort"

mint juleps - Karen
butter beans with ham - Tessa
corn bread muffins - Kate
sweet potatoes - Danielle
caramel cakes - Amanda
do you dare chocolate cream pie - Erin

 See recipes and photos here.
You can sign up for a menu item by leaving a comment here on the blog or including your choice with your rsvp email to Karen.

Discussion Questions :
  1. Did you enjoy the book?  Why or why no?
  2. Who was your favorite character? Why?
  3. What do you think motivated Hilly? On the one hand she is terribly cruel to Aibileen and her own help, as well as to Skeeter once she realizes that she can’t control her. Yet she’s a wonderful mother. Do you think that one can be a good mother but, at the same time, a deeply flawed person?
  4. Like Hilly, Skeeter’s mother is a prime example of someone deeply flawed yet somewhat sympathetic. She seems to care for Skeeter— and she also seems to have very real feelings for Constantine. Yet the ultimatum she gives to Constantine is untenable; and most of her interaction with Skeeter is critical. Do you think Skeeter’s mother is a sympathetic or unsympathetic character? Why?
  5. How much of a person’s character would you say is shaped by the times in which they live?
  6. Did it bother you that Skeeter is willing to overlook so many of Stuart’s faults so that she can get married, and that it’s not until he literally gets up and walks away that the engagement falls apart?
  7. Do you believe that Minny was justified in her distrust of white people?
  8. Do you think that had Aibileen stayed working for Miss Elizabeth, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?
  9. From the perspective of a twenty-first century reader, the hairshellac system that Skeeter undergoes seems ludicrous. Yet women still alter their looks in rather peculiar ways as the definition of “beauty” changes with the times. Think of some examples of crazy things that women have done for the sake of beauty.
  10. The author manages to paint Aibileen with a quiet grace and an aura of wisdom about her. How do you think she does this?
  11.  Do you think there are still vestiges of racism in relationships where people of color work for people who are white?
  12. What did you think about Minny’s pie for Miss Hilly? Would you have gone as far as Minny did for revenge?
* adapted from the questions available at the back of the book

bonus questions from

  1. Did you like how the story was told from the perspective of three different characters?  How did it add or detract from the story?  Would you have preferred to hear the story from only one of the characters?  Which one?
  2. Think about Skeeter at the beginning and end of the book.  How has she changed?
  3. How important is the setting in Jackson, MS?  How would the book have been different had it taken place somewhere else?
  4. Did you learn anything new about the civil rights movement?
  5. Imagine Skeeter 5 years after the story ends.  What is she doing?  Where does she live?  What about the other characters?

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