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Help for “The Help”

August 31, 2011

I haven’t seen “The Help” yet and have heard mixed reviews.  I surely will see it since the novel and movie take place on the sacred ground of Jackson, Mississippi that changed my life.  I did hear an NPR review by W. Ralph Eubanks, an African-American who liked the movie in spite of not wanting to, and saw the Mississippi he knew in the story.  Yet “The Help” doesn’t tell another truth, he said, the truth white Mississippi author Eudora Welty told in a 1963 New Yorker article written the very night Medger Evers was killed (a few-minute drive from Welty’s home in the segregated town).  Set in the same 1960’s time as “The Help,”  “Where is the Voice Coming From?” tells story of Evers’ murder through the voice of his assailant.  Says Eubanks:

“Eudora Welty believed that a novelist had a responsibility to bring alive both the mystery of humankind and the darkness. That’s exactly what she does in this story:  As you read the closing line, you know she has captured life in Mississippi as it existed then, as well as the prevailing cultural mindset. The Help does the same thing, but with few hints of darkness. Whether or not you liked The Help‘s optimistic tone, read “Where Is the Voice Coming From?” to fill in a piece of the story that’s missing from the minute the credits begin to roll.”

About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 31, 2011 6:20 pm

    Thank you for this recommendation! After I gave a negative review to the book (http://tiny.cc/v6tw3), I have been several times by my readers for names of alternatives. There is a rich library to choose from, but I like how this one parallels. I will pass it along.
    -K

  2. September 2, 2011 12:17 pm

    No one book tells the whole story. But I thought that the book and the movie (The Help) had a lot more than a “hint” of darkness. For example, the movie ends with Abilene deciding to “retire” and write after being fired, but we have already been told that she has no social security and her adult son has been killed at a sawmill. So either she is naive, which we know she is not, or she has a lot more suffering ahead of her.
    Sharyn Dowd

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