Thursday, May 06, 2010

The Help revisited

Just a note to say that at least one of my readers (who shall remain anonymous for now) found The Help "dangerously paternalistic and verging on stereotyping." I have to say, I can see why she thought that. I can see the paternalism. It is inherently offensive in some way to have it be a white woman who brings all these maids together and is their savior.

As to whether the characterizations and the voices are authentic, I'll defer to those black friends of mine who grew up in the deep south (if they care to crack the pages). To my ear, it sounds accurate.

To read a comparison from the Chicago Tribune between Stockett and an earlier white writer attempting a black voice, William Styron, click here. Most of the reviews of Stockett's book have not criticized her the way Styron was.

I'd like to think we've evolved as a society to the point where it isn't per se illegitimate to attempt to write from the perspective of those whose sandals we haven't trod in.

1 comment:

Tom said...

Hi Sara,

Please contact me about joining Sacramento Connect, a linking and social media network hosted by The Sacramento Bee.

Tom Negrete
Managing Editor, Online
The Sacramento Bee
(916) 321-1171
tnegrete@sacbee.com