I just finished reading The Help by Kathryn Stockett. This is a novel set in Mississippi in the early 1960’s, and is a story about the relationships between white women and their colored maids. I never thought much about those relationships, until I started reading this book. As a girl who grew up in the south, I can certainly relate to the story.
While we weren’t “high society”, far from it, we had a maid because Mama had to go to work to help support the family. Lena lived up the road from us, in a house much better than ours. She came to our house Monday through Friday to take care of the five of us kids, clean the house, do the laundry and ironing, and cook dinner. I don’t know how much she was paid, but I can tell you it probably wasn’t enough. She was always polite and deferential to my mother. She was pretty tough on us kids, and wielded a pretty mean hickory switch.
While the maids in The Help were treated badly, it was accepted in those times. I truly understand why they were willing to risk everything to get their story told. Kathryn Stockett tells the story well—I read the entire book in three days. While I think anyone would enjoy reading it, The Help will be especially appreciated by those of you who grew up southern in the 1950’s and 60’s.