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"The Help" & "The Secret Life of Bees" Presentation

ISU Project
by

Laura Miller

on 7 December 2012

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Transcript of "The Help" & "The Secret Life of Bees" Presentation

"The Help" by Kathryn Stockett

&

"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd As time goes on, it is becoming imperative that we as a society must learn to change ourselves in that we need to become more accepting and compassionate. Both "The Help" and "The Secret Life of Bees" contain personal and societal issues that are still occurring today. Both the issues of racism and the lack of an encouraging mother figure are showcased in these books. Kathryn Stockett & Sue Monk Kidd Both Kathryn Stockett and Sue Monk Kidd grew up in the 1960s which is the reason for the similarities between their novels. The pair felt that it made sense in their lives to write about the racial tensions of the 60s because they grew up in that time period. Kathryn Stockett explained in an article that she "didn't have a single black friend or black neighbour", even though half of Jackson was the home to African-American individuals, none of them surrounded her family. This reinforces the fact that there was a huge segregation in the 60s, influencing her writing. Stockett also mentioned that she spent very little time with her mother, as she was one of five children, which likely contributed to the development of Skeeter's character and her relationship with her mother, reminding her of herself. Sue Monk Kidd explained in an article, that "despite the African-American women who prominently populated the world of my childhood, there was enormous racial divides. I vividly remember the summer of 1964 with its voter registration drives, boiling racial tensions, and the erupting awareness of the cruelty of racism". This represents that Kidd recognized the segregation, which influenced her to include it in her writing. In summaries of Kidd's life, there is no mention of her mother, only her father who she said encouraged her, which may contribute to the fact that Lily's character is without a mother, yet she pushes on and doesn't give up, reminding Kidd of herself. Brief Summaries "The Help"
This novel is about a young, Caucasian woman named Skeeter and the relationships she gains with two particular African-American maids who inspire her. Skeeter decides to write a book from the help's point-of-view, which exposes the racism the maids are faced with while they work for Caucasian families. "The Secret Life of Bees"
This novel tells the story of fourteen year old Lily, who lacks a biological mother and lives with her abusive father. Lily ends up running away with her African-American housekeeper and finds a home with three women, the Calendar Sisters, who end up influencing Lily in a very positive way. Importance of Setting As mentioned earlier, the aspect of racial inequality is prevalent in both novels, and was a huge issue in the 1960s. The 1960s is the time period in which the Civil Rights Movement was in full force. This movement was aimed at overruling racial discrimination against African-Americans and restoring their voting rights. In the novels, both Martin Luther King Jr. and voting rights are areas that have been brought up. 1963 Martin Luther King Jr's efforts lead to the "March on Washington" and he delivers his "I Have A Dream" speech, which is considered "an end to racism in the United States", which would in turn eventually allow everyone to vote. 1964 The US Civil Rights Act becomes a law, which outlaws major forms of discrimination, including racial. If it were not for the time periods of both novels being set in the 1960s, inequality would not have been such an issue, but since they were, there were many racist acts and comments suggesting the issues of the times in each novel. Development of Characters Through
Personal Conflict The characters of these novels showcase their development through the conflicts they are able to adjust to or overcome. Both women experience a conflict within themselves because they are forced to live everyday lacking the encouragement and kindness a biological mother is expected to bring into their daughter's life. Skeeter's mother is more concerned about her daughter's appearance and society's opinion on her instead of focusing on what is really important; her own daughter's happiness. Skeeter searches for a mother figure, and Constantine is that figure who is able to cheer Skeeter up and provide her with great advice. Lily struggles with her mother's death because of the fact that she does not have a relationship with her. She does not know what caused her death and is searching for answers with little success at first, which is bringing her down. She yearns for a mother figure, and Rosaleen steps in, helping Lily with some of her sadness. These individuals struggle daily in attempt to overcome the sadness they have because of the nonexistent relationship with their biological mother's, but look towards another female figure who will support and encourage them. All of the African-American individuals in these novels are struggling because of the inequalities they are forced to deal with and become accustomed to. These individuals are looked upon as scum, who are uneducated and untrustworthy. Themes Racism & Inequality Aibileen and other maids from "The Help" deal with their employers racist ways with the example of Aibileen and other maids having to use their own separate bathrooms in fear that African-American's spread diseases. Rosaleen from "The Secret Life of Bees" deals with three white men abusing her for attempting to gain her right to vote, and also Zach is not privileged to go to a white school no matter how smart he may be. The Importance of Female Community Skeeter and the maids form a group while writing the novel, which allows them to express their individual feelings, making them feel important. August and her sisters have a group with the Daughters of Mary who have similar beliefs, which enables Lily and Rosaleen to feel important and become a part of something. Aibileen is able to influence Mae Mobley with her storytelling. August influences Lily with her storytelling. Connecting to the Real World Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can't ride you unless your back is bent." This quote spoke to me because it represents not only the social struggles of the past, but also signifies the positive changes society has the ability to make for the future.
Both of the novels I read end with encouraging thoughts leading the characters towards a much brighter future. The question is, will today's society look back on history and learn from it, then have the desire to make a change? Works Cited List "Martin Luther King, Jr. Quotes." BrainyQuote. Book Rags Media Network, n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2012. <http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/m/martin_luther_king_jr.html>

"An Interview with Sue Monk Kidd." Book Browse. Book Browse, n.d. Web. 6 Dec 2012. <http://www.bookbrowse.com/author_interviews/full/index.cfm/author_number/820/sue-monk-kidd>.

"Kathryn Stockett." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 22 2012. Web. 6 Dec 2012. <http://citationmachine.net/index2.php?reqstyleid=1&mode=form&reqsrcid=MLAWebDocument>.

Stockett, Kathryn. "This Life: Kathryn Stockett on her childhood in the Deep South." Mail Online. Associated Newspapers Ltd., 18 2009. Web. 6 Dec 2012. <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/you/article-1199603/This-Life-Kathryn-Stockett-childhood-Deep-South.html>.

Kidd, Sue Monk. "Sue Monk Kidd." Sue Monk Kidd. Lux Interactive. Web. 6 Dec 2012. <http://www.suemonkkidd.com>.
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