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A lively and wide-ranging discussion at lunch today led to us discussing the book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, who will be in town next week.  I haven’t read the book yet, but I talked about my aunt Ruthie who actually worked as a maid for a number of years.  I understand that the book portrays a loving and inspiring bond between the lead character and her maid.  I’m sure there were some situations like that, but that was not the case at all with my aunt.  The stories I remember my aunt telling were quite bitter (and, in a few cases, hilarious) but they intimated a type of bond too.

Natalie M. raised the most interesting question concerning the whole thing: Can a servant really love the people she’s paid to serve in that situation?  In such a circumstance, how can the person being served tell the difference between real love and the “care” that a maid is paid to provide?  I mean how long can you do someone’s laundry without caring about them even a little bit?  Which things are you doing from the heart and which ones are you doing “on the clock”? Does that distinction make a difference?  Like I said, I haven’t read the book. Maybe it raises exactly those questions.  Though we didn’t stay on the topic very long (just minutes later we were all gushing about the homemade ice cream we were having for dessert), I thought it was interesting enough to share here.

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Comments on: "Overheard at Lunch Bunch : The Help" (4)

  1. nataliemaynor said:

    In an interesting television interview Kathryn Stockett talks about this question — the question of whether the apparent love is real — and says that in a way the whole book is an attempt to explore that question. The interview is here:

    http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=6259944n

    • nataliemaynor said:

      Interestingly, I just found out that one of the people shown in a skype-interview segment at the end of the above television interview is going to speak at UUCJ this Sunday: Sally Fran Ross. Sally Fran is the white woman among the three Jacksonians interviewed — the one whose maid’s daughter was also interviewed.

  2. In gay circles this would be a fun fantasy. Working the job and having a relationship with the boss. Of course, it could lead to all sorts of complications (and usually does). There are many situations, however, where the work relationship is relaxed, casual, and loving–even if you are technically the “employee.” In my relationship, my spouse makes 10 times what I make, so I allow him to “be the man” and pay the bills. Every once in a while, however, he does make it known WHO pays the bills. There may be some correlation here with a workplace relationship.

  3. davidhoskins said:

    The interview with Sally Fran and Mae Covington was far more interesting than the author interview. The part about the maid bonding with the white children at the expense of her own rings true. My aunt never had kids of her own and I remember picking up on a sense of something being missing whenever she would mention the kids in the families she worked for. Then again, my aunt Ruthie is kind of salty anyway (something I love about her, btw) so that dark edge I would sometimes hear to her voice could have been from anything.

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