The Help is what's known as a novel of education, meaning that the main characters undergo a series of gripping adventures that open their eyes to new truths and their lives to new opportunities. In the process, they act as educators, using storytelling, story writing, and devious pranks to effect positive change in their community.
This book also looks at attitudes toward education and the unequal access to education in general for black citizens of Jackson. College for Jackson's white women is more of a place to find a husband than a place to get a good education. Skeeter is even considered a failure at college because she didn't find a husband, unlike Hilly and Elizabeth who drop out as soon as they find their not-so-charming princes. Minny and Aibileen both have little formal education but are both very literate – in terms of literature and current events, more so at times than many of their white counterparts, especially the female ones.
Questions About Education
- What are some important truths that each of the main characters learns?
- What are white children taught by their parents and community about black people?
- What does Constantine teach Skeeter? What does Aibileen teach Mae Mobley?
- What do Aibileen and Skeeter teach each other?
- How does Mae Mobley resist the racism she encounters in school?
- How does Aibileen educate herself when she has to drop out of school to work?
- What reason does Hilly give for refusing to loan Yule May the money she needs for her sons' college education? What do you think of her argument? Have you ever heard it before?
- What do Minny and Celia learn about each other over the course of the novel?