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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Help

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

“The Help” is based on Kathryn Stockett’s 2009 best selling novel of the same name.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book. Even though it is a fast read, it is a great read.
 
It is Jackson, Mississipi, in 1962.  Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (Emma Stone) returns home to her privileged life in Jackson, Mississipi.  All her friends are married with children and following the paths of their mother’s before them, they have hired maids, or “the help”. These are African American women who have served these families for generations, with great love and personal sacrifice. And for what? Often for very low wages and to be mistreated.
 
Skeeter tries to get a job in New York but an editor tells her to get experience. She is hired at the local paper to write household hints, about which she knows nothing. So she asks “the help.”
 
She begins with Aibileen Clark (Viola Davis) who tells the little girl she cares for, “You is kind, you is smart, you is important.” But the child is chubby and her mother is embarrassed by her.
 
Meanwhile, Minnie (Octavia Spencer) manages to get herself fired by the horrible rumor monger Holly Holbrook, who heads the local women’s society. Minnie’s sweet revenge is priceless. Sissy Spacek plays Mrs. Walter, Hilly’s mother. She is in the early stages of dementia, and she gets Hilly, too, with hilarious élan.
 
The rest of the maids are unwilling to tell their stories because they fear retribution. But an event galvanizes them. When the book is published, you can imagine the reaction.
 
The cast is filled with the finest African American actresses of our day, beginning with Cicely Tyson, as Constantine, the maid who brought up Skeeter. Emma Stone seems everywhere this summer, and she is credible and spirited. 
 
Yes, the white women are caricatures as contrasted with “the help.” And the film looks almost too pretty to tell stories of such heartbreak and betrayal.
 
But we get the point. Racism, white on white, too—and domestic abuse—is with us today, hidden behind closed doors.
 
“The Help” is a tribute to human dignity, faith, and forgiveness. It  is relevant, engaging, and entertaining. It will take you by the heart.


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Catherine of Alexandria: According to the <i>Legend of St. Catherine</i>, this young woman converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. At the age of 18, she debated 50 pagan philosophers. Amazed at her wisdom and debating skills, they became Christians—as did about 200 soldiers and members of the emperor’s family. All of them were martyred. 
<p>Sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel, Catherine touched the wheel and it shattered. She was beheaded. Centuries later, angels are said to have carried the body of St. Catherine to a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai. </p><p>Devotion to her spread as a result of the Crusades. She was invoked as the patroness of students, teachers, librarians and lawyers. Catherine is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, venerated especially in Germany and Hungary.</p> American Catholic Blog To live charitably means not looking out for our own interests, but carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest among us. –Pope Francis

 
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