I don’t really read much about American history, I’m not sure if it’s a general disregard for ‘things American’ (I’m sure they aren’t all corporatised soy-venti-latte mcpeople, but given what I see in the media my view has been skewed) or whether it’s in some resistance to the historical snippets I do know.
The Help confronts one of those straight on – the Southern states of America view of the balck person.
It’s set in the 60’s, as things such sit ins, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr starting to generate headlines, however in some areas such incredible racism that is so seemingly insurmountable appears like biting into a sour fruit.
I felt like I’ve been in a similar background to the protagonist, I was considered a Xenophobe for years for growing up in a very (very!) white middleclass area, with views that could be considered fairly inappropriate. It’s funny how this changes as your eyes are opened by people/thoughts/surrounding changes – and how stark things seem when you see it from the other perspective – and how bald claims seem when thrown back in your face.
I had an example of this last weekend, where a person was mentioning their particular view and I was politely gobsmacked at comments seemingly dropped into casual conversation that felt more like bombs than actual words – thats almost how this book feels after things escalate and become darker and more shrill towards the inevitable conclusion.
It’s an absolutely excellent novel – challenges you to see how you would respond in a situation. Would you stand up to your friends if you had an opposite opinion on something? you know I thought I would have, but sometimes I wonder how strong my spine really is on something that brings up such strong passion and animosity between people…