In The Help, is Aibileen considered the protagonist?

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It may help to think about The Help in terms of the conflict and climax in order to work through this.

Much of the novel focuses on the racism in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s and the subsequent decision to publish a book that narrates the experiences of "the help"...

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It may help to think about The Help in terms of the conflict and climax in order to work through this.

Much of the novel focuses on the racism in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s and the subsequent decision to publish a book that narrates the experiences of "the help" employed by many white households.

The book is told in first person through a rotation of three narrators: Aibileen, Skeeter, and Minny. Aibileen tries to help May Mobley feel valued despite her mother's harsh parenting and also narrates her feelings of fear in speaking out against a white community. Minny tries to control her sassy temperament in the face of prejudices and also befriends Celia (her employer who is in desperate need of some housekeeping skills herself). Skeeter decides to stand against common white prejudices, effectively cutting herself off from her family's upper class white society at that time, and writes the book which leads to the climax.

Because all three narrate the central conflict and all three are key in how the climax develops, I would argue that the book therefore has three protagonists, which isn't something that you see often.

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Aibileen is a, as opposed to the, protagonist in that she is crucial to the success of Skeeter's book. Without Aibileen's story Skeeter would never have been able to write anything so fascinating, rich, or historically accurate. Aibileen is one of life's natural story-tellers, and her ability to recreate scenes from her past so vividly makes her just as much of a protagonist in The Help as Skeeter.

This is surely intentional on Stockett's part as she wants to give a voice to those previously denied the opportunity to tell their stories. History is written by the victors, as they say, and in terms of American history, this has often meant the active suppression of those voices belonging to certain marginalized groups, such as African-Americans. Making Aibileen a protagonist in The Help is a small, but significant contribution towards restoring a sense of balance in how crucial periods in American history are presented.

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Aibileen Clark, while not the only protagonist in The Help, is certainly one of three main characters. Skeeter Phelan, Aibileen Clark, and Minnie Jackson could all be considered to be protagonists as they all narrate certain sections of the novel. Skeeter narrates for the majority of the book. If one had to pick a single protagonist, it would be her.

Skeeter incites the events of the novel as it is her idea to create the book in the first place upon returning from college. Her curiosity over the fate of Constantine leads her to interview Aibileen and Minnie, giving them an outlet to finally tell their stories. Even at great personal risk, the three work together to reveal the truth, making them all worthy protagonists.

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In The Help, I believe that there are two protagonists. I feel that Aibileen and Skeeter are both protagonists. A protagonist in a story is the leading or main character. I feel that it is too difficult to separate Skeeter and Aibileen in order to choose just one as the primary major character. Skeeter is a major character because it is her idea to create the book in the first place, and she gets the ball rolling by interviewing Aibileen. She wants to see change occur, so she decides to do something about it. Without Skeeter's initial idea and gumption, the story would not exist. Similarly, without Aibileen the story would have nowhere to go. Aibileen is also considered a protagonist because she is the first to be interviewed, and she is the one who rounds up the rest of the maids to be interviewed. She has so much to lose, but she continues to do what she feels is right. Without Aibileen, Skeeter would not have had anything to write about. For these reasons, I feel that both women are prime examples of protagonists.

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