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How Prejudice is Represented in The Help, a Novel by Kathryn Stockett

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Prejudice

Prejudice being a preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience was the cause of many hate crimes during this time period where blacks were considered to be lesser of a human than whites.The 1960’s were a time of racism and prejudice as the segregation of colors began and civil right’s activists emerged, fighting for equal rights, including Martin Luther King Jr., and Malcolm X. Whites were brainwashed to believe that colored people were lesser only because they were darker than them because of society’s longstanding tradition in treating colored people as less than.This time periods events compared to today’s shows our immense uprising of racial equality, though things can never be completely equal, we can continue to try. In The Help by Kathryn Stockett, the author uses the thematic concept of prejudice to recreate the struggles of a colored life in a society where they are considered inferior.

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White children are raised from birth to associate darker color to a lesser being. It is a continuous chain of forcing kids into a prejudice life when they have no ability to disagree. An example from the novel that shows how children were raised during this time period is how Mrs Leefolt to her daughter Mae Mobley. “I did not raise you to use the colored bathroom!”…”This is dirty out here, Mae Mobley. You’ll catch diseases! No no no! (Stockett 111)” Due to Leefolts immense belief in that blacks are dirty, the idea of her child in the bathroom of one frightened her. She reacts intensely by screaming and beating Mae Mobley in hopes that she can hit those opinions into her.

As shown in the previous paragraph, bathroom segregation is an extremely big topic during this time. Many conflicts from The Help revolve around the bathroom initiative and whites belief that colored people have different diseases that they will catch if they share a toilet. During the novel, Robert Brown was beaten and blinded after being caught using the bathroom at work. “Use the white bathroom at Pinchman Lawn and Garden. Say they wasn’t a sign up saying so. Two white men chased him and beat him with a tire iron. (Stockett 117)” This important event in the novel is able to show how serious and violent whites would act towards blacks over the smallest things. This shows that bathroom segregation was an important part of this time period and they have no mercy for those that do not follow the rules.

Another example of prejudice and believing that blacks are diseased was how the help was given one set of cutlery and a plate to eat off of everyday. They would not even let people that they basically lived with, who raised their children from birth use one of their forks because they were so trained to believe that colored people had different diseases and they would somehow catch something even after the cutlery was cleaned. “Rule number three: “When you’re cooking white people’s food, you taste it with a different spoon.” Rule Four: “You use the same cup, the same fork, same plate everyday. Keep it in a separate cupboard. (Stockett 46)” These being some of the rules that Minny’s mom gave her before she began helping white families. This being said, the help was basically family to their bosses, yet they would not even let them eat with their cutlery, though they are completely fine with them raising their children. Is there not something wrong with that?

After decades of racial equality being an absurd idea, we are finally beginning to see an uprise in colors being considered the same. Though this idea is definitely not appreciated by everyone, and will never be accepted by all, it is a topic that will continue to be a big part of our lives forever. Throughout the novel, Skeeter is able to fight back against prejudice and racism to try and make a change. Colored people have always been treated differently than whites, and the idea that blacks were diseased and dirty during this time is what is truly dirty and disgusting. No matter what color we are on the outside, we are all the same on the inside. We are humans and the darkness of our skin should make no difference in how people treat us. Stockett is able to get her message across by showing different point of views and show how a variety of people look at the struggles of this time.

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