Representations in the Film, “The Help”

White females in the film were seen as the more privileged and are probably the most seen group in the film. They can be described as wealthy, and they seem to enjoy each other’s company. Most white females think highly of themselves compared to everyone else. They are also the most diverse group in the film. Racist and insensitive white females can be seen through Hilly Holbrook and generally, her group of friends. Skeeter can be seen as a very compassionate white female, especially to the blacks. She is the same with her mother, except her mother did not have the courage to show her love for the blacks in front her white friends.

Black females are dominantly the help and are probably the lowest group of people in the film. They are mostly abused by their white owners but will care so much to those who show love to them. Even when abused, they tolerate acts of racism from their owners because they have less power and they do not have anything else to do if they get fired. They have different personalities but more or less are the same when it comes to their daily lives.

There were only a few white males in the film and they were seen as the white female’s partner. They are more laid back in terms of their emotions compared to the white females. Stuart and Johnny Foote are two of the few white males present in the film. Stuart was for a time Skeeter’s partner while Johnny is Celia Foote’s husband.

There were also few black males in the film but since they are black, they also suffer the same racist acts. Unlike the white males, who can be seen as inferior to the white females, black males believe they are above black females as evidenced by Minny’s husband, Leroy. He was not shown in the film but he was presumably black because of their lifestyle.

Police in the film were white males and they seem to answer and support the whites only. In the film, they arrest a black female who was a maid because she was said to have stolen something from her white owner. There was not much evidence but police still arrested her and did not follow the request of the maid to get her purse.

Politicians were not seen much in the film but based on the setting, they support racism. They support segregation and are blind to what is happening with “the help”. The police work for the government and so the politicians must know of the activities of the police. They know that the police are capable of abusing black females but they do not do anything about it.

The children, regardless of color, are innocent. They do not know racism and do not bother whether they interact with people who have different color than theirs. Aibileen, works for Elizabeth Leefolt, and takes care of her very young daughter, Mae Mobley. Aibileen and Mae Mobley, as seen in the film, share a very deep bond, so much that Mae Mobley refers to Aibileen as her real mother. Skeeter, as a child, also loved their maid, Constantine. The other children in the film were Minny’s and as seen by her eldest daughter, Sugar, black children will have the same experience with their parents if racism continues.

The wealthy white society can be generally described by the characteristics of Hilly Holbrook. They see black people as inferior, slaves dirty, etc. and believe they should be segregated from them. Some do not feel genuine hate for them, but by the standards of their society, blacks should not be equal to them. They can also be easily influenced by a powerful person like Hilly.

The film dominantly shows women but that does not mean they show dominance in the film. Amongst themselves, yes, but not towards men. There was a part in the film where Skeeter’s friends want her to have a partner because she works too much and cannot settle in life. Minny, after being fired by Hilly, is abused by her husband Leroy. Minny can be seen as one of the stronger women in terms of her courage but when it comes to her husband, she is powerless. Celia Foote also shows fear towards her husband. When she hired Minny, she was glad to have her and was very comfortable having her around the house but she ordered Minny to leave the house before her husband arrives. The few times men are seen in the film, they can be seen having less emotions compared to women. Leroy abusing her wife and Stuart leaving Skeeter after she learns of the book are evidence of this. The help also exclusively has women. There is no rule or law stating that only women should serve as the help. Men can be butlers or something similar to that but the film does not show one.

The film shows how blacks are inferior to whites by acting like slaves. They do everything in the house but is recognized by their owner. Even in a house, segregation is apparent by the blacks having their own bathroom because whites believe they are dirty and carry diseases. When someone is black, he or she is colored, and they have their own category. In the film, when a black man was shot, the bus driver orders colored people off and tells the whites that he will take them as near as he can. Blacks also tend to have blue collar jobs while the whites have white collar jobs. Children are supposed to be innocent and must be able to choose their path. White children, are usually raised by black women and they love them for it but the film shows a few number of adults who love care for the blacks. White children love their black nannies but growing up, they are taught by their parents what blacks are according to them. Similarly, black children should be able to escape the hard life of their parents if they study and work hard but given the society they live in, they will have a similar life like how Sugar became a nanny like her mother. Even with all the inequalities the blacks face, they cannot do anything because whites are more powerful and do not have much help like the police. It took a white woman for them to come out and be brave enough to tell their story about the daily abuses they face.

Skeeter was young white woman like her friends, Hilly, Elizabeth, Jolene, etc. Reality shows that white people like them are superior to blacks. Nannies should be black women and they should be segregated. But Skeeter did not support this way of life. She did not want to disrespect these black women and instead wanted to help them and talk and become friends with them. She played a huge part in resisting reality by giving voice to these abused black women.

Hilly also attempted to resist reality in the end when Skeeter’s book was published and became known to the public. Changes were happening with how people look at the help because of the book. The book involves different stories and one in particular is a reference to Minny and Hilly and the chocolate pie made with Minny’s droppings. A lot of people are believing the stories but Hilly was resisting that reality by accusing Aibileen of theft. She ultimately failed arresting Aibileen but the latter left and quit being a helper to pursue a career in writing.

– Antonio Pedro Angelo F. Ferrer

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