ErinSykes-LiteraryGirlsSkeeterTheHelp-05012016The Help, a story of civil rights in the 1960s, by American novelist Kathryn Stockett is one of my all-time favourite books. As a relatively new novel–it was first published in 2009–I guess not many people will have it listed as one of ‘the greats,’ but for me it is definitely set to become one, partly due to its fantastic characters. When deciding which of the fabulous girls in this story to write about I had a hard time choosing. Aibileen may have seemed like the obvious choice as she is certainly the heroine of the story, or perhaps Minny, who lifted my heart and kept me giggling the whole way through. Nearly all of the women in The Help could be literary heroines, however, I settled on Eugenia Phelan, or Skeeter, as she is referred to for most of the book.

There are many reasons why Skeeter is such a wonderful female protagonist, in part due to the fact that she is a mass of contradictions! Her family are white and wealthy, they own a cotton farm, and most importantly to this tale; they employ ‘black help.’ Skeeter herself mixes with other white ladies in high society and is a member of the Junior League. Yet she also has a college degree, has read widely, including banned books such as To Kill a Mockingbird, aspires to be a journalist, and by the end of the story has risked her reputation, and even her freedom, to make the voice of ‘the help’ in her community heard! She uses her intellect and a lot of support from her friends in the black community to write a book revealing all the stories of black women who have raised white babies as if they were their own; letting the world know exactly how much ‘the help’ had done for them. An amazing feat for a twenty-something from the Amerian deep south, fresh out of university!

But what really makes me love Skeeter is the size of her heart! She is kind, brave and willing to risk it all for what is right and true. She follows her heart and knows her own mind, never allowing others opinions to degrade her values and principles. In the words of Albus Dumbledore, sometimes we must choose between what is right and what is easy. Skeeter’s choice to do right is very much what makes her such an inspiration!

-Erin Sykes
Junior Girl
Girl Museum Inc.

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