Bestsellers: The Help

Historical fiction novels like The Help can whisk you back to a place and time that you may have only read about in history books. Or... a place and time that you would have read about in history books if you hadn't been slacking off on your assigned reading.

American Literature21st-Century American Literature
All American Literature
FormNovel
LanguageEnglish Language
Literary TopicsSpecial Interest
LiteratureAmerican Literature
ThemesGender
Justice and Judgement
Literature and Writing
Love
Race
Society and Class
The Home
Violence

Transcript

00:24

ranks high in the “best books ever” debate.

00:27

So will The Help follow in To Kill a Mockingbird’s footsteps? Will it ever make the move from

00:33

bestsellerdom to classic lit? Sure, The Help isn’t a classic yet, but

00:37

how many stories are called “classics” right away?

00:41

Plenty of jerks thought Charles Dickens was a worthless hack, and we all know how that

00:45

turned out.

00:47

The important thing was that Dickens’ books were popular, just like The Help is today.

00:51

Of course, popularity isn’t everything. You’ve got to have respect, too. Sorry,

00:56

Twilight.

00:57

But The Help is no slouch in that department, either. “Popularity plus Respect plus Time

01:02

equals Classic” is an equation that’s worked in the past, so maybe it'll work for

01:07

The Help, too. If that equation isn't enough for you, throw

01:10

some racism into the mix. We're serious. Books about tough subjects like racism have a history

01:17

of making their way into the world of classic literature.

01:20

We’re thinking way beyond just To Kill a Mockingbird – there’s The Color Purple,

01:25

Invisible Man, Roll of Thunder Hear My Cry…

01:29

The list of tales about ignorant scumbags goes on and on…

01:33

…and guess what The Help is about?

01:35

Okay, so The Help has all the makings of a classic, but it's definitely not a shoe-in.

01:40

Why? Well, lots of people think The Help is just reality TV in novel form.

01:48

The black maids serve as the cameras, giving us a semi-scripted view of the badly-behaving

01:52

wives of a particular town.

01:54

Sound familiar? Deep down, could The Help just be the print

01:58

version of “The Real Housewives of Jackson"?

02:03

When we get sick of rich ladies being terrible harpies on TV, we may get sick of stories

02:08

like The Help, too. So what do you think?

02:11

Is The Help headed toward the literary hall of fame…

02:13

…or is it just another one-off bestseller destined for oblivion?

02:20

Shmoop amongst yourselves.