What is the tone and diction of The Help?

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stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Help is told through the distinct voices of the three main characters in the story - Aibileen, Minnie, and Skeeter. The diction and tone used by each of these characters reflects her individual education and experience.

Aibileen has the least formal education of the three. Her life is filled with love for the white children she raises and for the Lord. Aibileen is very fearful of becoming involved with Skeeter's plans at first but comes to the conclusion that she cannot remain silent in the face of the continuing bigotry. By the end of the story, Aibileen is proud of the work the women have accomplished and is hopeful about her future.

Minnie is an out-spoken firebrand, one who doesn't suffer fools easily. She frequently gets herself in trouble with her employers because of her quick tongue, but she has a heart of gold for those she takes under her wing. She is amazed by Miss Celia's lack of understanding about many topics and undertakes to educate her about the proper ways of doing things. She agrees to become involved in the writing of the book after much resistance but works hard and long to bring it to completion.

Skeeter is a college graduate who understands that her degree means nothing in her hometown, but hasn't yet found a way to get to another place where she can become an individual in her own right. At first, she has no understanding of the risk she is asking the maids to assume - with time, she begins to comprehend some of the fears and circumstances she is imposing upon them when they agree to talk. Skeeter uses the ironies and contradictions between the old ways and the changes occurring in the contemporary world to battle the attitudes of her friends toward her ambitions and in regard to the ways in which they treat their help.