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The Help, from an Ethical Point of View

Well Chef Fan’s it is time once again for me to talk about another of my classes, and I know that I should have been posting more about this class as I went threw it but truth be told I just didn’t have the time or the energy to do a post about this class. I say that because we only have this class one day a week and we don’t really ever have any assignments for it. We sit in class and talk about what is or isn’t an ethical problem. Basically we talk about ethics without talking about ethics. I say this because everything I have learned about ethics before this class is still everything I know about ethics, all I have learned is how to “talk” about ethics.

There is also a second part to this class which I will get into in more detail in another post as this post is more about the ethics part of the class. Getting back to the point of this post…. In an effort to help us better understand how to “talk” about ethics the NECI way, so what did we do you ask, we watched The Help. The movie itself isn’t a movie I would normally watch because it is not my type of movie. For my female readers out there it is a movie that you would probably like, as it is a decent movie in my opinion. Anyway here is the project we had to do while/after watching the movie, Enjoy!

The Help

Back Ground Belief Questions:
Choose one character from the film and list as many background beliefs as you can along with explaining why you think these beliefs are important to this character and the ethical and moral decisions they make during the course of the film. You can number them or use a bulleted list.  You may also choose to write your answers in an essay form. Whatever fits your learning style the best is okay with me.

Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan:

Skeeter Phelan is full of contradictions. She’s a 23-year-old white woman with a cotton trust fund and a college degree. She lives at home on her family’s cotton plantation, and she devotes herself, at a considerable risk, to a book featuring the real stories of the black women who work for the white families in her hometown of Jackson, Mississippi. If that isn’t a contradiction of the times and her upbringing I don’t know what is. Maybe it was the Ideas she was exposed to while in collage that made her turn out the way she did or maybe it is her being raised by Constantine. (More on the two of them in the Significant Moral Actors and Significant Moral Communities section)

Besides this she belongs to the Junior League and is in tight with other high-society ladies. She had been best friends with Hilly Holbrook and Elizabeth Leefolt (villainous characters) since grade school. But as the story progresses, Skeeter becomes more and more distanced from this safe social status and goes, rogue. She breaks all the rules and crosses dangerous lines. Lines that In that time would normally put her in jail.

What cinches her new position of social outcast is the prank she plays on Hilly, who is trying to get a bill passed requiring Mississippi families to build outdoor bathrooms for their black employees. Well, Skeeter arranges for dozens of toilets to be dumped on Hilly’s lawn, and when Elizabeth’s daughter Mae uses one of them everyone gets a big laugh. Hilly doesn’t take this calmly, though, and turns Skeeter into a social pariah.

As Skeeter’s own friends shun her, the black community embraces her, though not openly because it’s too dangerous. After the release of Help, the preacher at Aibileen’s church asks Aibileen to tell Skeeter “we love her like, like she’s our own family

Skeeter is bold, fearless, and she doesn’t buy into the myths that black people are dirty and have diseases that are poison to white people. Her early relationship with Constantine makes such ideas totally ridiculous to Skeeter. Her desire to help the maids give voice to their experiences is also motivated by a desire to counteract harmful myths used to justify forced segregation, unequal treatment, and other abuses.But, when Skeeter starts hearing the maids’ stories, she realizes how little she really knows. The more Skeeter hears from the maids, the more aware she becomes of the legal, political, and social forces that are allowing these abuses to persist. Skeeter’s real growth will probably take place after the movie ends, when she moves to New York. There she’ll be exposed to a whole host of new ideas and perspectives that will help her understand the Jackson, Mississippi of her youth. The education she receives from her experience working on The Help should be a good foundation for this growth.

Significant Moral Actors and Significant Moral Communities:

With the same character you chose to identify Background beliefs, please identify as many significant moral actors and communities for that character and explain why you chose these
examples.

Constantine-

Skeeter has a close relationship with the black woman hired to care for her, Constantine. Like Aibileen does with Mae Mobley, Constantine taught Skeeter to love herself and not to buy into racial prejudices. Behind Skeeter’s desire to show the points of view of the Jackson maids is her need to find out what happened to Constantine. Constantine and Skeeter were confidantes for over twenty years. But, Skeeter stopped hearing from her during her senior year at college. When she comes home from school, Constantine has mysteriously disappeared and nobody in town will tell Skeeter what happened. Although Skeeter doesn’t consciously use her interviews with the maids to find out about Constantine, it’s always on her mind. When her editor, Elaine Stein, insists that Skeeter include Constantine’s story in Help, She finally gets her mother to tell her the truth, that she fired Constantine after a confrontation with Constantine’s daughter.

Elaine Stein-

Skeeter’s editor in New York, who not only incurages her to write The Help in the first place is also giving her guidance about the story and her views along the way.

Aibileen-

The First person who Skeeter talks to about her ideas for the book and also he closet friend in the movie, she is the one who really helps open Skeeter’s eyes to what it is really like to be a Black in Jackson. She is a lot like Constantine in the way she cares for and raises other peoples white children. This relationship goes both ways and because of Skeeter’s influence goes off to be a writer in the end of the movie.

Minny-

The second person to come to Skeeter with her stories, and is a very load and outspoken women who isn’t afraid to tell it how it is to everyone, and this gets her into trouble. Minny tells Skeeter along with Aibileen to go to New York and become the writer she should be.

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