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What is the most compelling symbol in The Help?  

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lisa165 | Student, Grade 10 | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 20, 2011 at 12:14 AM via web

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What is the most compelling symbol in The Help?

 

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted March 18, 2012 at 7:53 PM (Answer #1)

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I would sugges that the symbol of the bathroom might be one of the most powerful symbols in the novel.  It is odd to suggest this, but it makes sense.  The driving force that starts to get Skeeter thinking about life in Mississippi and how it must be changed in regards to the help is the notion of segregated bathrooms for the help.  This becomes one of the major issues in both the bridge club and for Hilly to demand that Skeeter include it in the bulletin.  The concept of the segregated bathroom is also what drives Abileen to talk to Skeeter.  She understands that the drive for separate bathrooms, under the guise of "Separate, but equal," is something that she can no longer take in terms of the sweltering heat of the summer and also in how she is seen as a human being.  The bathroom also is significant because its end product is what Minny places in "the pie."  This becomes a significant symbol because what could be seen as an impediment, the idea of having a separate bathroom, is something that Minny uses as a source of strength and power in getting back at Hilly.  In the end, the bathroom becomes a symbol of much for the characters in the novel.

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