In the film, The Help, how does the character Aibileen make us care about the injustices in the world?

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

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Aibileen's endurance and resistance are ways that she makes us care about the injustices in the world.

Aibileen is shown to be a paragon of honor in the film.  Part of the reason why she is able to make us care about inequalities in the world is because of the way she carries out her duty.  Her narrative is that of "the help."  It means to take care of children that are not your own as if they are only to see them grow up to embrace a life of racial prejudice.  Aibileen does not take care of children like "Baby Girl" as if it's a job.  She provides love and nurturing that they do not receive from their parents. Aibileen has sacrificed caring for her own children in order to care for her employers'.  When we see how she hurts over the death of Treelore, her authenticity resonates. Aibileen has experienced significant pain resulting from social injustice.

This has a galvanizing effect.  When we see the type of person Aibileen is, our anger towards segregation increases.  On one level, we feel bad because it is morally repugnant.  However, we feel doubly outraged seeing a good person like Aibileen subjected to its unfairness. The film shows this when Aibileen is made to use the exterior bathroom.  The physical and emotional difficulty is shown in her facial expressions.

It is for this reason that we empathize with Aibileen's resistance. We concur with her insistence that Skeeter write about the poor parenting habits of whites in Jackson.  When she enlists more maids to come out and participate in the book, we acknowledge it.  We recognize her authentic need to change social injustice because of the person she is. As a result of her legitimacy, we understand how endurance and resistance are the means through which unfairness must be confronted.

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