What is the narrative structure in the novel The Help?

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stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

All but one chapter of The Help is written from the first person viewpoint of one of the three women featured in the story. Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minnie tell portions of the story with their personal interpretations of events, reflecting personalities, background education and experiences, and social/cultural attitudes shaping each of the characters.

Skeeter's comments reflect the changed perceptions she learned during her years away from Jackson in college. She can't identify with the other young white wives and mothers, their lifestyles, or their attitudes toward the domestic employees in their homes.

I head down the steps to see if my mail-order copy of The Catcher in the Rye is in the box. I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good.

Aibileen has cared for white children for many years and has loved most of them. She resents the situation in which she exists but doesn't fight the system openly at the beginning of the book - she works for change in quiet ways, as she shapes Mae Mobley.

"'So we's the same. Just a different color', say that little colored girl. The little white girl she agreed and they was friends. The End."...Mae Mobley, she smile and say, "Tell it again.”

Minnie is young and angry. She is eager to fight the structure of expectations and prejudices, but needs the income of being employed and understands that she is jeopardizing her future employment status when she steps outside of the usual pattern of the black servant.

“What you think I am? A chauffeur? I ain’t driving you to no country club in the pouring rain.”

The one chapter in the book not told from the viewpoint of one of these three characters describes the Junior League Banquet. That chapter is written from a third person perspective, strictly as a report of the events of the evening.

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The Help

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