How is belonging to people and places portrayed in 'The Help'  the movie and  Is it both positve and negative?

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

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The original question had to be edited down.  The film displays the theme of belonging in a powerful manner.  Essentially, individuals are shown to need to belong to some type of social solidarity.  There is little room for isolationism in the film.  The characters are driven to connect themselves to either something or someone more than themselves.  Skeeter recognizes that she must forge connections with women who are "the help."  Her need to belong is motivated by a desire to write their narratives.  However, it becomes evident that this mission is more than mercernary.  She is driven to belong to their stories and even add her own with the last chapter on Constantine.  Minnie and Aibileen are the strongest examples of how belonging drives the film.  Aibileenis the first to show the importance of belonging, demonstrated in how she opens up to Skeeter.  In another sense, Aibileen demonstrates belonging in how she bonds with the children she raises.  The idea of "You is kind, smart, you is smart, you is important" is something that shows belonging between she and the children she raises.  Like Skeeter, this becomes and represents more than a job.  She seeks to belong fully to what it is she does, and it makes sense that both she and Skeeter bond because what they do becomes an experience in belonging.  When Minnie comes on board, both she and Aibileen do as much as possible to ensure that belonging and solidarity extends to as many of "the help" as possible.  This can be seen in the end when Minnie tells Skeeter that she will look out for Aibileen, who in turn will look out for her.  The writing of the book has developed a true sense of belonging between both women, suggesting something transcendentally possible in a world of contingency.  I would even suggest that the ending confrontation between Abileen and Hilly represents where belonging plays a role in the development of the film's themes.  The idea of Aibileen directly saying, "You're a godless woman" shows how Aibileen has constructed her own reality to be one in which she clearly belongs to something more than herself.  It would be with these instances where there is a direct sense of belonging as part of the characterizations in the film version of Stockett's novel.

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