Celia Foote represents a woman who, in the eyes of 1960s Southern society, has failed in her primary roles as a female and is thus marginalised because of that. Through her lack of skill in everyday house duties such as, cooking and cleaning, Celia is proven to be pushed aside and ridiculed by majority of people including her maid, Minny, “I find fifteen boxes of new shirts for Mister Johnny so he won’t know she can’t wash and iron.”(Kathryn Stockett, 2019 p.23).
Minny marginalises Miss Foote when she first starts working for her, “…I’ve never met a white person worse off than me…” (Stockett, p.24), due to the fact of Celia hiding things from her husband and her inability to cook and pushes her aside because of this.
She is further marginalised when Minny believes, “Those bedrooms should be stacked full of kids laughing and hollering and pooping up the place” (Stockett, p.26), and sees her as the “laziest woman I’ve ever seen”(Stockett p.26) when Celia lays in bed all day to stay still so “…maybe I could hold on to this one.”(Stockett, p.107), referring to her avoiding another miscarriage. Celia is judged and ridiculed by Minny constantly and, therefore, marginalising Miss Foote, for example,
“You happy too. Big house, big yard, husband looking after you.” I frown at Miss Celia and I make sure she can see it. Because ain’t that white people for you, wondering if they are happy enough.” (Stockett, p.26)
Through this quote, you can see that Minny has no respect for Celia due to her not being happy for no reason in Minny’s eyes, “I frown at Miss Celia and I make sure she can see it”, this further proves that Celia not being happy with her life, dictates that she has failed as a typical housewife, and is thus marginalised because of this.
One of the characters we hear about often is Elizabeth Leefolt, a character that is spoken about, but rarely heard from due to her need to live up to the social expectations of the 1960s Southern life. Elizabeth spends most of her time trying to fit into the social norms of her time, such as, hiding her lack of wealth, her lack of attachment to her kids and how driven she is to be accepted by Hilly, which leads to her being marginalised.
Miss Leefolt prevents her lack of wealth to be seen by making her own dresses look store-bought, “Does it look homemade?” (Stockett, p.38). Her friends marginalise her because of her lack of fitting into the upper class and feel pity towards her. The look and weight of her children plays a major role in her unattachment to them, as she is ashamed that Mae Mobley, her daughter, isn’t the picture-perfect child and “ain’t gone be no beauty queen” (Stockett, p.6). She is marginalised by Aibileen, her maid, for her lack of education when it comes to looking after children,
“Miss Leefolt, she look terrified a her own child. “What am I doing wrong? Why can’t I stop it?”, “It? That was my first hint: something is wrong with this situation.” (Stockett, p.6).
Aibileen constantly looks down upon Elizabeth due to her not knowing how to look after a child and not having a strong emotional connection with her children.
Marginalisation is very evident when it comes to Skeeter Phelan, who doesn’t fit into the society’s social norms. Through Skeeters beliefs, such as, the belief that African Americans and white people should be equal and treated the same, marginalisation occurs, such as, when Stuart, her boyfriend, proposed and then called off the engagement the same night, once he found out that she had been working with The Help.
Phelan also has a job, which in the 1960s Southern society, was considered weird and therefore, not fitting into the social norms of the time, “I’ve gotten a job writing Miss Myrna, the weekly cleaning advice column”(Stockett, p.37) , even though the job consisted of what was considered a women’s job, she was still marginalised from the thought she was an outsider because of her independence and her not being dependant on a man to support her financially.
Skeeter also doesn’t have the want to fit into the social norms and goes against this by not trying to be a perfect future wife and instead, following her own passions and doing her own thing.
“Four years my daughter goes off to college and what does she come home with?” she asks. “A diploma?” “A pretty piece of paper,” Mother says. “I told you. I didn’t meet anybody I wanted to marry,” I say” (Stockett, p.32)
She is marginalised by her own mother for going to college and getting a degree in what she is passionate in, rather than learning how to be the perfect house wife and getting a husband. The statement “A pretty piece of paper”, demonstrates her mother’s disappointment and lack of pride in her daughter for her completing college and gaining a degree. This just furthers demonstrates how women in the novel, The Help, are marginalised.
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