Identify essential questions from The Help by Kathryn Stockett.

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

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Some of the most essential questions that arise from Stockett's novel do so from the themes within it.  One such question would be how friendships such as the one between Minnie, Aibileen, and Scooter can be forged in the midst of such social upheaval.  The novel raises the question of how the transcendent quality of friendship can overcome such social struggle as was evident in the Civil Rights Movement.  At the same time, the issue of friendship is able to span socio- economic differences as Scooter's world is fundamentally different from the women of the help.  

Another question that comes out of the novel is the role of  dissent in the midst of overwhelming conformity.  One of the critical questions in Stockett's novel is how it depicts the condition of segregation as one of intense conformity.  Essentially, White Southerners acquiesced to social conformity in perpetuating institutional racism.  The people who employ the help simply conform, refusing to demonstrate the need to be independent.  Part of the reason why Skeeter is viewed with such scorn is that she refuses to be conformist in such a condition.  At the same time, there is significant resistance to change amongst African- Americans when Skeeter initially proposes writing the book.  Conformity is represented in the stand- offish approach that many in the African- American community take towards the book.  The book raises the question as to what extent conformity will be embraced by members of social community.  The idea of "courage skips a generation" is a part of this exploration in such a question. Questions about the extent of the transcendent quality of friendship in the midst of intense social change as well as how conformity can help to determine social conditions of oppression are critical ones in Stockett's work.

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