“You is Kind, You is Smart, You is Important”
The Help is a 2011 American period drama film directed and produced by Tate Taylor and adapted from Kathyrn Stockett’s 2009 novel of the same name. The film and novel recount the story of young white woman and aspiring journalist Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan. The story focuses on her relationship with two black maids, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson, during the Civil Rights Movement in 1963 Jackson, Mississippi. In an attempt to become a legitimate journalist and writer, Skeeter decides to write a book from the point of view of the maids referred to as “the help” exposing the racism they are faced with as they work for white families.
The story is based on a recent college graduate from Ole Miss, Skeeter Phelan who comes home and finds she doesn’t fit into the crowd. The movie is mostly revolving around two important characters: Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson.
Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson are both maids. Aibileen has always raised white kids all her life, she is very good at it. She gives them the unconditional love, but at the end they turn out to be just like their mothers. Minny is a maid who is fired by a local social leader, then hired by a white blonde lady.
The local society leader is Miss Holbrook, is a very dogmatic person who fires Minny after a very long years of service. The blonde is Miss Celia Foote, who married a very rich businessman, is desperate to please him, wanted to be a perfect housewife. Celia wanted Minny to work for her only during the days, so that her husband will think she’s cooking for him and is enjoying her housewife life. Minny is happy to work for her and teach her. They two become great friends. While Minny was working for Celia, Celia suffers a miscarriage and reveals to Minny that she suffered three miscarriages previously.
Hilly, is another local woman, is married to another rich man. Yule May is her maid, asked Hilly if she could borrow some money for her boys further studies. Hilly refused right away and wanted to test her. So she throws one of her rings behind the couch and Yule May takes it and sells it in a pawn shop. Yule May was brutally arrested after Hilly complained to the police about the theft.
Skeeter was uncomfortable about the way the whites were treating the black maids, with their racist attitude. She was shocked when Hilly forwards a letter to the Home Sanitation Initiative to install separate bathrooms for the help. Skeeter later learns that her mother Charlotte fired her childhood maid Constantine for unknown reasons. During a heavy storm, Minny refused to use the bathroom outside and instead used the guest bathroom, Celia fired Minny right away.
Skeeter decided to write a book on these women who work hard for the white people. Skeeter published two stories about Aibileen and Minny, but her book editor at Harper & Row, Elaine Stein, that the stories of two maids are not enough, but potential retribution from the maid’s employers hinders others from joining the project. Aibileen and Minny after persuading the others to join, Skeeter finally managed to get others to tell their personal stories too. Aibileen tells her personal story about how she lost her son, and there was no one to take him to the ER just because he was black. She only believes that by sharing her experience may open the other maids eyes and just may be it will be a better experience for the generation after.
While Skeeter was writing her novel, the Assassination of John F. Kennedy has taken place. All the women who shared their stories, especially Aibileen and Minny feared their stories might be recognized. Minny then reveals her story about the “terrible awful” that she has done to Hilly. Minny, baked her renowned chocolate pie and gave it to Hilly. Minny, however, prevented Mrs. Walters(Hilly’s mother) from having a slice and revealed that she baked her excrement into the pie. Hilly screamed at Minny and asked her not to show her face ever again.
Skeeter later confronts her mother Charlotte about the women that raised Skeeter, Constantine. After a very long conversation Charlotte reveals the story behind Constantine’s termination. Charlotte revels that during a lunch with the local chapter of the Daughters of America, Constantine’s daughter Rachel arrived. Rachel disobeyed Charlotte’s orders of entering through the kitchen and embarrassed her. In order to save face, Charlotte fired Constantine and ordered them both to leave. Shortly afterward, Rachel took Constantine to Chicago, where she later died. Charlotte had every intention to bring Constantine back to Jackson. Skeeter broke down right there and was very disappointed about what had happened.
It was much later that the book was finally published and was under the name “Anonymous”, and it was a success. Minny reveals the “terrible awful” to Celia, who finally sees Hilly as the manipulative bully that she is. Celia lets on that she knows about the “terrible awful” by writing a check to one of Hilly’s charity groups. Hilly attempts to intimidate Skeeter through threat of legal proceedings, but she reminds Hilly that “that” is in chapter 12. Charlotte then intervenes, lets on that she knows about the terrible awful and orders Hilly off the property. Charlotte and Skeeter reconcile when Charlotte tells her how proud she is about her courage, the book and the job offer in New York City.
Johnny (Celia’s Husband) approaches Minny and reveals that he was very aware about Minny helping Celia and he was very happy about the friendship they have built. Celia made a lot of dishes for the three of them to eat, as an act of kindness to Minny. Minny takes the courage from this and takes her children away from her abusive husband.
Hilly pressures Elizabeth to terminate Aibileen for helping Skeeter in the novel. Hilly was there when Elizabeth was terminating Aibileen and in return Aibileen stands up to Hilly, calling her a Godless woman and that she is never satisfied until she gets what she wants. Aibileen bids farewell to Elizabeth’s daughter and told Elizabeth to give her daughter a chance. Aibileen takes this as an opportunity to get away from everything and she’s looking forward to become a writer.
This movie had a major impact on many viewers and ended happily. The novel being a best release and the movie had a lot of positive reviews from everyone. To understand how life was during the 1960’s, this movie is a must watch and opens your eyes to the reality around us.