What are the conflicts in The Help?

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The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi beginning in 1962, so the setting drives much of the conflict in the novel. The novel is told with three narrators who rotate sharing perspectives in different chapters, so most conflict is focused on their internal and external battles.

Skeeter is a young white woman who sees the belittling ways "the help," or the black maids who are employed in white households, are treated. She realizes that this is reflective of deeper racial issues in Jackson and looks for a way to educate a deeply racist white society about the inherent injustices in such treatment. Her primary conflict is with a white society which wants to hang on to tradition--and racism. This is embodied primarily in Elizabeth, who employs Aibileen and who is also pressing for more segregation in Jackson, such as requiring white households to build separate, outdoor restrooms for their black employees. Skeeter also finds herself in conflict with her own mother, whom she comes to realize...

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