Love, communication, and most importantly respect are the basis and the foundation of a blooming and booming relationship. ‘The Help’ is a novel that presents ideas of strong relationships between black maids and the white children of the families they work for. Throughout the book, we can see this kind of relationship between Mae Mobley and Aibileen as well as between Skeeter and Constantine. These relationships are put to an end when the child grows up and starts to understand racial inequality, and so they start to copy their own racist parents.
These relationships are stained by racist ideologies and the different beliefs that spread around society during that time. Despite those differences, from my experience and the type of relationship we see in the book, I believe that there could be genuine love between a person and their help. As long as these relationships are based on respect and support.
My relationship with Mary Lou is nothing compared to Mae Mobley’s relationship with Aibileen. We have some similarities and some differences, however, the differences exceed the similarities.
Mae Mobley and Aibileen have such a pure and honest relationship, where Aibileen constantly showers Mae Mobley with love and words that make her feel confident about herself. Aibileen is always ready to give Mae Mobley advice that will boost her self-esteem and teach her self-love and racial equality. Aibileen’s last advice to Mae Mobley was “You is kind, You is smart, You is important”. Knowing that her own mother wouldn’t do that because she despises her own daughter, and only cares for Mae Mobley’s appearance more than her actual feelings. An example of that is when she tells Aibileen to start giving her daughter calorie-free food so that she doesn’t gain more weight, while she spanks her whenever she does something wrong instead of nicely explaining it to her. In comparison, my relationship with Mary Lou can be described as caring. Where both of us have an attitude of trust and gentleness toward each other. It hasn’t been very long since Mary Lou first started working for us, however, in such a short period of time we managed to grow such a friendly relationship with one another. Mary Lou always likes to make sure that I am fine emotionally and physically, she always seems to be concerned about how I am feeling. The best part is that whenever she asks, I give her details of what had upset me that day without even thinking. Because I know that she would always be there to listen to me without any judgment, and sometimes that is all a person needs. Our relationship is friendly, pure, and loving. However, I do not consider Mary Lou as a second mother to me because I know that there are always certain limits that a person should not cross. Whether it is with a maid or a friend. I do not spend most of my time around Mary Lou, I spend my days mostly with my mother and siblings but that still doesn’t mean that I don’t take time from my day to sit and talk with her about how her day went and about mine.
We also noticed how the families treated the help throughout the story. Because racism played a huge role throughout the whole book, we saw how they were treated differently. Mrs. Leefolt was Aibileen’s boss, she always treated her as distinguishable because she was black. To the point where she built a bathroom in the garage just for Aibileen to use, because she was convinced that black people spread diseases. Aibileen’s relationship with Mrs. Leefolt is completely different than My mom’s relationship with Mary Lou. Aibileen faces a lot of segregation, discrimination, and racism from Mrs. Leefolt. Mrs. Leefolt is influenced by her best friend Hilly, who is the most famous woman in Jackson Society and is known to be extremely racist and discriminative towards the other race. Therefore Mrs. Leefolt is very rude, impolite, abusive, and extremely disrespectful towards Aibileen because she has a different skin color, and to satisfy the society girls.
In comparison, my mother tries her complete best to understand everything Mary Lou is going through because she knows it can all be hard at times. She compliments her whenever she sees her upset to lift up her spirit. My mother considers Mary Lou as a fourth daughter; she helps her, provides for her, she cares for her. What astonishes me is that whenever there is an occasion like Christmas, my mother gets her new clothes as a way to wish her a merry Christmas. What I also realized is that both my mother and Mary Lou have an understanding that there will always be limits however Mary Lou knows that if she ever needed anything she could always go to her.
Through the book, we can thoroughly analyze Aibileen’s lifestyle and daily routine. She wakes up early in the morning to make it in time for when Mae Mobley wakes up, she spends almost the whole day at Mrs. Leefolts until her working hours are over. Then she heads home to rest and sleep and the routine repeats itself. And on some days she goes to church for meetings or prayers. Aibileen lives in a house alone, since her son Treelore died, which she used to pay for from the income she gets, she uses that money to provide for herself as well.
Aibileen’s lifestyle is completely different compared to Mary Lou’s. Mary Lou had to sign a contract before officially being hired, a contract saying that she would be willing to work for our family for 2 complete years, which means that she doesn’t go back to the Philippines every now and then. Mary Lou stays at our house all day every day, but that doesn’t mean that she is continuously working. She gets the right to rest, sleep, eat, talk to her family over the phone, and many other privileges a normal employee gets. However, Mary Lou still has a decided schedule on when she’s supposed to stop working. Her day is balanced between rest and actual work around the house.
Both maids have certain working hours that have been decided on, and both do the same job during those hours. Both Aibileen and Mary Lou clean around the house, cook, wash dishes and bathrooms and etc. The main difference between both jobs is the way of treatment and the way appreciation is shown from the family’s side.
The prime difference and the major one is the contrast in cultures and timings. ‘The Help’ is a story that took place during the 19th century in American society, during that time ideas of racism, and segregation permeated the community. Today, America still faces the same issue, but it’s not just between blacks and whites it is also between the many other races present in America. Issues of taking blacks or other races as slaves aren’t common anymore.
The way the people in the American society treat the help is completely different than the way people from the Arab society treat their help. In my culture, the Arab culture, we do not face problems with racism. There are Arabs with dark skin color, but they do not face any type of discrimination. Where no one is forcefully taken as a slave, nor do they face any type of physical or verbal abuse if they ever worked as a maid in a household.
I came to the conclusion that the way a person treats other people, despite the difference in religion, race, and ideology, all depends on their morals and the influences that they are under.
As this comes to an end, I can conclude that differences people have between one another shouldn’t mar their relationship. Because a relationship should have foundations of respect and communication, and certainly not criticism. Therefore racial inequality and economic inequality should never matter, it is all about the type of relationship and the common denominator between them!