So the coast was clear last night, the house all to myself, only small piles of laundry waiting. I slipped out to the patio with “The Help” in hand, pried open to the halfway mark I had reached earlier in the busy week. This time, surely I would find my grandmother in the pages.
The End. Well, no such luck. Never did the poor working-class white make an appearance this story.
If the author had turned her story ever so slightly to the one behind the counter at the drugstore serving the League ladies, we might have glimpsed her.
Or, she could have been the one organizing other ladies to deliver dishes for Louvenia and the one driving her blind grandson to his doctor appointments. She did that you know.
My grandmother founded the local ladies club. But she was not Mrs. Hilly. And, though she caught and killed, or planted and grew, much of what was fried-up and served at her laminate dinette set, nor was she Aibileen or Minny.
Of course, she was not formally educated like Skeeter either. She married at 17 to a turnip farmer and she took care of her own children, all 10 of them, plus a few grandchildren who came along a little too early.
And she was a friend to her poor black neighbors. Even as she lived day-to-day among people who, like the Hilly character, would never, ever consider themselves a racist.
I enjoyed the book very much. I really did, for many reasons. The voices, the scenes, the foods, and yes, the attitudes, took me back to a childhood, dancing across a greasy linoleum kitchen floor or bringing in the eggs. Oh, you can find my grandmother’s name in lots of church cookbooks today. But she remains the one important character you won’t meet in books like “The Help” — a Southern white woman whose role in the dynamics of that society deserve at least a chapter or two.