What is the resolution of the conflict in The Help by Kathryn Stockett?
The answer to this question depends upon what you think the conflict is. If you think it is the racial divide between the black maids and the white employers in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s, then it is resolved only to a certain extent by the end of the book. Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny, and the rest of their friends publish The Help and bravely make their personal experiences public. They feel better about themselves. They have become friends and gained respect for one another. They have won a few small victories, and they may encourage readers to pause and think about how the two groups should be able to get along and have mutual respect. We’re not given “the rest of the story” here. Historically, we know the American civil rights movement of that decade still had a long way to go.
If the conflict of this book is the entirety of the racial divide occurring in the United States in the 1960s and beyond, then this one story of a few lives in one southern city can’t resolve the larger dilemma. It can serve as an example or a metaphor, and it can stand in for racial relations in the American South at the time. Recent events prove we still have a long way to go to resolve our conflicts, though.
If the conflict of the book is whether Skeeter will be permitted by early 1960s southern culture to live up to her potential as a writer and facilitator for civil rights on a small scale, the answer is yes. She compiles and publishes The Help and accepts a job offer from the publishing house. She’s going to move to New York.
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