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In each book, the plot focuses on someone standing up for the rights of the black community—Atticus and Skeeter.
Both books are set in the time periods, but about 30 years apart. Jackson, Mississippi—the setting of The Help—might be Maycomb in thirty years. Racism is still alive and well. Calpurnia’s situation is a common one. One of the main themes of the book is that black women are raising white children.
Taking care of white babies, that’s what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. (The Help, ch 1)
This could possibly lead to a generational gap where white children have more respect for blacks than their parents did, or could lead to them seeing all blacks as servants. It depends on the dynamics of the household.
When Calpurnia takes Scout and Jem to church with her, it is clear that the black congregational members treat the children differently because they are white.
When they saw Jem and me with Calpurnia, the men stepped back and took off their hats; the women crossed their arms at their waists, weekday gestures of respectful attention. (To Kill a Mockingbird, ch 13)
The situation of a divided citizenry based on two different worlds of race is evident here. Another aspect of it is that the blacks are on their own. They have to collect donations for Tom Robinson’s family, because no one will give Helen a job. The only one standing up for them is Atticus.
Atticus and Skeeter are similar in that each of them seems to respect people for who they are. Each of them stands up for the black community in a daring and fragmenting way. They each risk their own reputations and even safety by doing so. Skeeter sympathizes with them because she is a woman and knows what it is like to be discriminated against. Atticus has his own moral code.
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