Saturday, May 14, 2011
This is a link to a great discussion of "The Help" from the program "Tell Me More" on npr. It gives the perspective of different people on this best selling book. To summarize the discussion, one of the maids in the book bears a striking resemblance to a maid in Ms. Stockett's own family. There is also a discussion of the accents in the book, the white characters do not have disernable accents, but the characters of color do.
I think that the npr discussion brings up many good points. The reaction to the novel tends to be different from people of different races. And I think the notion of going to a job versus actually caring about where you work and the people you work for is intriguing. This is a sensitive topic. An employee may want to give the impression that "they care", but in the end, if the boss is asking, is the question invalid? Will employees really tell the truth, particularly if their job is on the line. My take is they will not. But that's not to say that there aren't amazing people who love their jobs, and love what they do. I simply don't think that assumption can be made for everyone.
I agree with the discussion that an author does have a responsibility to change identifying characteristics about their characters. However, the line between fiction and non fiction is blurred. I have seen books considered "non fiction" memoirs that seemed like fiction and fiction that made a person question if the stories were real or not. Chanson wrote a great post about authors and how auto-biographical their fiction can be here.
Overall, as this book has become wildly popular with book clubs, I was prepared not to like Stockett's book. But it was engaging and the story well written. The women "told truth to power" (in the civil rights South) , and any stories like that (fiction or non-fiction) I support.