Sunday, February 20, 2011

How *The Help* Helped

After reading The Help by Katherine Stockett, I was motivated to do some unusual things around the house. First, I polished my silver. I pulled the putty from the laundry room closet, along with an old t-shirt and headed to my jewelry box. No, I don't own any real silver vases or silverware or any "real" niceties, but I have several pair of tarnished earrings and a few necklaces and pendants. So I stood there, daubing and rubbing, watching the shine emerge and the black accumulate on the rag. It's tedious work, but I like the tangible, aesthetically pleasing results. Much more satisfying than laundry for me.

Second, I scrubbed the floors in my bedroom and dining room on my hands and knees. Good Heavens the crazed things I do because of literature.

See, I really dislike cleaning. Enough so that I have "help" come in to do the cleaning. Often this embarrasses me. But I really don't like it, though I like living in a (relatively) clean house. Once, though, a writer friend absolved me of my guilt saying that not everyone can write... so if I can, leave the cleaning to someone who finds satisfaction in it. Indeed, Skeeter didn't do much cleaning in her life. I found, reading the book, that I identified with many of the characters: the woman with the little kids who pays for help so that she can "volunteer" elsewhere; Skeeter, who wants to be a writer and write something important; and sometimes even Aibileen, who listens to children and tries to fill their heads so full of good thoughts it will carry them into a good adulthood.

This, though, is the passage that has made the biggest impression on me:
"We all on a party line to God, but you, you setting right in his ear."
This is Minny talking to Aibileen about putting someone on her prayer list, which Aibileen keeps in a little notebook. It made me think about how cool that'd be to sit in God's ear. And after mulling this idea over a while, I figured there's nothing to keep any of us from sitting there except climbing up there with focused prayer. That's what Aibileen did, kept a list and wrote her prayers -- which took her about an hour a night. So, I found a little notebook in my office -- because I dearly love getting little notebooks, though I have no idea what I could possibly write that would fit in a little notebook. It's a tiny bit of a thing, maybe 1.5 x 3" and only 12 sheets of paper. But I filled in a list of names on that first page and it's like Aibileen says on the page before the above quote: "And the next and the next. Cause that's the way prayer do. It's like electricity, it keeps things going." I have already noticed that electric continuation... and have a few new names to add to the list.


J.Ro said...

I just finished this book last week too. Growing up in Mobile, AL, born in '64 - I KNOW this story. Athelstine Collins, a creole from Mon Louis Island, Alabama, STILL works for my mother 3 days a week. But thankfully, time are way different than they were. See you Friday.

LJK said...

You are an inspiration! I love the book too.