Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Help: Discuss With Us! (#1)

In Chapter 2, Aibilene states: "I look down at Baby Girl, who I know, deep down, I can't keep from turning out like her mama. And all of it together roll on top a me. I close my eyes, say the Lord's prayer to myself. But it don't make me feel any better."

Do you think, whether or not Aibilene were to remain in the employment of the Leefolt family throughout Baby Girl's childhood, that Mae Mobley would have grown up to be racist like her mother? Do you think racism is inherent, or taught?

Please discuss within the comments below this post.

*We may revisit this question later this month as we further delve into the story! Keep on journaling!


  1. This question gets me all fired up so I will TRY to be calm, collected and concise in my response. I absolutely believe that racism is learned/taught. Using religion and faith as my analogy: I was born into a Catholic family and raised with those values, but I did not come into this world as a Catholic. When I say religion I do not mean faith, just the lessons of the church. My faith was inherent, it just needed to be guided and nurtured. I think that racism is like religion in that a person doesn't enter this world as a racist. Just as I was taught to be Catholic, a person can be taught to be racist. Since I grew up in a Catholic family, when I was young I believed that was how everyone grew up. My parents believed what they were teaching me, so it JUST HAD to be right...right? Children are "self-centered" in that they believe their way is the only way-at least until school starts and we realize that other people actually exist outside of our family!
    My heart aches for this poor baby because her mother clearly doesn't care about her and doesn't respect the woman who is raising her. What a confusing place for a child. Aibilene staying throughout her childhood would be the best thing for Mae Mobley. Young children recognize love and support before color. Just like in Miss Skeeter's case, (hopefully) as she gets older she will recognize that her beliefs and those of her mother are incongruous. Hopefully, the constant support of Aibilene will help her develop into a confident woman who is capable of making her own decisions about the world around her. However, she could also compensate by embracing all of her mothers beliefs in an attempt to win her love. Aibilene can't absolutely prevent Baby Girl from becoming like her mother but she can guide her and nurture her to help her become a kind, independent and strong woman.

  2. I think that it would be possible, but those lovely little corrections for Mae Mobley about her worth and value make me think they will remain in her as maybe just a shadow when she is older. Like Skeeter, this girl may now have the ability to recognize the hypocrisy of her mother and be able to see beyond those indoctrinations to the truth.

  3. I agree that it is possible for Mae Mobley to grow up and look beyond how she was raised (much like Skeeter). On the other hand, I can completely understand why Aibileen feels the way she does. As a woman of color growing up in the South she learned from a very early age that white people are not to be trusted. I feel as though Aibileen's thought comes more from her experience than what might really happen with Mae Mobley. What impresses me so much is that, in spite of her belief that Mae Mobley will eventually be like her mother, Aibileen still genuinely loves Mae Mobley. That, to me, is a great example of unconditional love.

  4. Constantine left Skeeter when she was still young too. Yet, often, Skeeter recalls things Constantine told her, and seems to recollect those things when she is looking for strength in "bucking the system". I think/hope that Aibileen will have a similar influence over little Mae Mobley.

  5. I think and hope Abileen stays with Mae Mobly for her whole childhood. I think she is -like in Skeeters case- also the one instilling self worth and self esteem in the child. And racism is due to ignorance and since Mae Mobley knows the loving person that Abileen is, if she like Skeeter gets to be raised by a black nanny she will be less likely to be racist against other blacks. Especially since the mothers show no interest in them at all, so they would be less likely to want to emulate their mothers.
    I am still so shocked about how this was the 60's...not that long ago!

  6. Given the next era of history, the 70's and the women's liberation movement, I doubt Mae Mobley would turn out much like her mother. More women were following Skeeter's example of wanting a job and just out from under their parents thumb. However, people do grow up as a product of their environment, as Courtney mentioned, it just depends on who has the most influence. At this early point in the book, Abileen is clearly the positive role model for Mae Mobley and I hope that continues (well, I would also hope her mother grows up a bit, but I doubt that happens!).

  7. I agree with April: I think that so far, it looks like Mae can sense her mother's dislike of her (as I'm sure children can) and she is so much happier being with Aibeleen. As April says, Mae will be a teenager/young adult in the 70's and I can see a child having the un-loving home life as she has had getting involved in the rebellion of the 70s. Mae will be growing up in a time when the racism of the past is slowly morphing- she'll see society advance past that (slowly, I said!), so I think odds are that with her home life and Aibeleen's influence, she will turn out much different than her mother.


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