Provide examples of how "all conflict are based on ignorance" in Kathryn Stockett's The Help.

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

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I would suggest that "ignorance" can be extended to many different realms in Stockett's work.  For example, Constantine's dismissal can be seen as a conflict based upon ignorance.  Charlotte dismisses Constantine because of social acceptance. She dismisses Skeeter's beloved maternal figure because of her ignorance about truth.  In this case, ignorance is defined as embrace of the temporary as opposed to honoring the transcendental. 

Certainly, the social rejection of Celia Foote is based out of ignorance.  The other women in Jackson believe Celia had seduced Johnny away from Hilly.  The women in Jackson sit in harsh judgment of Celia because of this.  In this case, ignorance is a lack of understanding about specifics.  It is also an inability to stand up to social pressure.  The women in Jackson dare not stand up against Hilly for fear of rebuke.  Examining the conflict between Celia and the women of Jackson shows the concept of ignorance taking on a multi- faceted form.

I think that one defines "ignorance" in a similarly introspective manner when analyzing the fundamental racial concept that underscores the book.  Much of the Southern White population that embraces Jim Crow style segregation does so out of ignorance.  The establishment of separate facilities, the promulgation and endorsement of segregation in all forms, and the resistance to racial integration and equality are based out of a moral ignorance.  Many in the Southern White population are shown to be morally ignorant in their willful rejection of integration and ethical truths. Ignorance is defined in this conflict as rejecting that which is right in favor of that which enhances power.  

Another example of how conflict is based off of ignorance could be seen in how the women of "the help" are seen.  The employers and families of "the help" are ignorant of the lives that these women lead.  They simply see them as caretakers of children, cooks of the house, and cleaning agents.  White society is shown to know little of their lives, such as their own children or their own homes.  This is a conflict based out of ignorance because of the silence imposed on the women who form "the help."  Skeeter's book is so powerful because it seeks to reengage voice to a group of women who lacked it.  The silencing of this voice out of ignorance is where such actions reveal a certain condition of power.  In this conflict, ignorance is based off of the lack of recognizing "the other."  

In all of these conflicts, "ignorance" is seen in different ways.  The reality is that the conflicts presented are individuals placing their own interests over the needs of another.  In this very understanding, ignorance of "the other" is present and forms the basis of how all conflicts in both the book and life can be seen as being based off of ignorance.

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