Doesn’t flying or fleeing mean fulfillment or failing?
Why love can not be both
Smiling and wailing
Nor south and north or back and forth
For in love, there is no rule as such
“Love is a Cliff” by Kelsey Stewart is a rhyme poem that ponders on the question of love and how the fear of rejection can stop us, the readers, from taking the initial leap. Ms. Stewart encapsulates the sentiments in a relationship where one party is so caught up in the other, they are blind to the idea of feelings not being reciprocated (this quote is from A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare). She explores different voices and characters, one where the second party develops and changes perspectives; starting hesitant then reluctant to the idea of giving up their individuality and happiness as an individual to love someone. Ms. Stewart refers to this feeling as jumping off a cliff where one is uncertain whether they will soar and succeed in their journey to find love or ultimately plummet to a horrible end. These two very different ideas represent the characters in ways words cannot justify. She also uses the image of a flower in an effective way, perpetuating the idea of growth. A flower cannot grow without space or sunlight nor grow roots for a solid foundation. I believe Ms. Stewart is demonstrating time and space with this reference as well as the reference to The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran. Allowing someone you care about the time to bloom and the time to once more stand tall and confident is a key component to love. As Ms. Stewart wraps up her poem, she implies the idea of the tangibles. Society is so focused on having reasons and answers to topics as such; specifically ones that refer to rollercoaster emotions as drastic as love. For in love, there is no rule as such reminds us that we mustn’t always question how one can be happy and sad, up and down or hot and cold at the same time; we must simply treasure the moments when we take the risk to jump for love and ultimately soar.
This is an exhibition of the novel The Help. As I guide you through the gallery in the video, please take the time to pause on the images with the dark wood boarders. Below you will find the corresponding descriptions to these images with the following categories: symbolic times, actions, or objects to the character, an inquiry question and a connection to another book. I hope you enjoy!
Symbolic Object to Aibileen Clark:
Montclair Cigarettes:« Last time, she pulled out a pack of Montclair’s and smoked them right there with me in the room and that was kind of something, the casualness of it. » -Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan
When one envisions Aibileen Clark, we see a caring, gentle, old soul. Her smoking is certainly not the first image that comes to mind. Therefore, why choose cigarettes to represent Aibileen? I chose not the object itself but the atmosphere these cigarettes portray. Aibileen states that one white woman has only ever entered her home: Eugenia Phelan. As these two develop an unlikely friendship through the process of writing a story, Aibileen over time, becomes more comfortable with her friend. Growing up as a wealthy white woman, Eugenia has only known the world where the coloured help clean up her messes and serve her twenty-four seven. The Montclair cigarettes that Aibileen smokes ever so casually stun Eugenia at first, then allow her to see what an amazing friendship they have built; one full of trust, understanding and equality.
Symbolic Object to Minny Jackson:
A Toilet:“…I decided there had to be a more dignified way to die than having a heart attack squatting on top of a white lady’s toilet lid.” -Minny Jackson
Minny Jackson never fails to preach her beliefs, certain beliefs no one can sway. This quote is one of many that describes Minny’s values and realization of self-worth. Take this scene for example, it is brought to Minny’s attention through the drastic measures taken to not be seen by Miss Celia’s husband, Johnny, that Minny does not want to die hopelessly perched on top of a white lady’s toilet seat. If Minny were to have a heart attack, wouldn’t she want to be die making a difference? Making the world a better place for her children? This toilet inspires Minny to live life as if she could be shot tomorrow. I imagine that as she stepped down from the toilet, a place where she was quiet which meant safe, elevated which meant disguised, she became nervous. Though, as Leena Ahmad Almashat once said “Those who don’t jump, will never fly.” Luckily for Minny, that jump (or step in this case) is one that led her and her family to a brighter future.
Why is it important to learn to see through another’s eyes?
This thought is one that was unimaginable to certain people sixty years ago; however, Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan, believes otherwise. Her perspective on equality and her ability to love people for who they are on the inside proves that she is many years ahead of her time. “I am starting to notice things.” Skeeter states. The lack of respect shown to the help from her friends that she has grown up with is brought to her attention. Seeing life through Aibileen’s eyes was not an easy task to begin with. As to be expected, Aibileen (and later Minny) was closed off and sharing her stories with a white woman was not an everyday occurrence. Over time, a bond and ultimately a friendship formed. These powerful women were able to break down their walls and finally treat the other as an equal. Not only was it Skeeter who had to change the expectations of society but Aibileen as well. She was tasked with treating Skeeter as her friend and not a white lady to whom she served. This trait, being able to see through another’s eyes, is one that I strive to improve on. Whether we choose to believe it or not, everyone judges everyone. A first impression, a presentation, situations in which we are vulnerable allows others the opportunity to judge us for who we are and the message we are sharing at that time. Simply forming an opinion without the full story is how society worked sixty years ago, and perhaps how we still function today. I believe that The Help would not have been as powerful if the story was only written from one woman’s perspective. Skeeter demonstrates a fantastic example of taking the time to see through another’s eyes. This message is one individuals, groups and society as a whole will always need to improve upon.
A novel which has similar themes to The Help:
Society can sometimes have too narrow of a focus regarding our imperfections. We may not be able to change these imperfections, but perhaps we can change the way we respond to them. Both The Chrysalids and The Help touch on the idea of fitting into a mold. If you are not white you lived in the coloured neighborhood. If you are a Blasphemy (as referred to in The Chrysalids) you are banished to the fringes (a place where the “perfect” people can look down on you). Skeeter and David see the offence, the blasphemy or the coloured as equals. While society dehumanized the “different”, the protagonists allowed their minds to challenge the views put forth by society. David grew up in a house where his father did not bend the rules for anyone, including his family. When David meets a young girl named Sophie who has six toes, his family’s beliefs and traditions no longer seemed important to him. As did Skeeter, he continues to form a “forbidden friendship” with someone who is not perfect in society’s eyes. When Mae Mobley askes Aibileen why she is coloured, Aibileen simply responds with: “Cause God made me colored,” I say. “And there ain’t another reason in the world.” There is no reason that Sophie has an extra toe nor is there a reason why coloured people are coloured. It is for people like David and Skeeter that my generation is able to recognize differences as the best part of our society.
“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” -Audre Lorde.
Below I have attached a presentation my group and I created about our novel study book: The Help. I loved this story and for that reason we did our best to sum up the main ideas without giving away the juicy details for future readers. We hope you enjoy!
The Tense Middle, an article written by Roald Hoffmann who compares life to chemistry; the reactions, the transformations and then the equilibrium of it all. Hoffmann explains his beliefs that people are not born “good” or “evil” but develop this title through their choices. His fact-base style of writing intrigued me and I found it to be a nice change from other, more illistrative articles. Hoffmann establishes a connection to his experience as a young jewish child, when he saw first hand how actions can place people into the evil category and others, like the man who saved his mother and him, into the good category. He learns through time that living life in the middle, though it is not a static or stable place to be “…offers me the potential for change.” I believe there will always people who will be satisfied living their life in the middle. I hope that through thoughtful choices and a good heart, I am able to disrupt the equilibrium and storm my way into the good category for this world.
Laura Durham’s, Grace is a Gift article, speaks about her third grade teacher giving her a gift in the form of a lesson; one that is an act of grace. The style of Durham’s writing is encaptivating, potreying the feeling that you are living through the situation as it is being read. Durham includes a powerful statement that I sometimes loose sight on: the difference between karma and grace. With karma, one may believe that what goes around comes around. Grace is simply a meaningful action or statement that is done through the goodness of one’s heart. I strive to enshrine the beauty that is grace and always remember that “grace is a gift- not a reward”.
Handing Over Life is a poem that I wrote inspired by Ray Bradbury’s The Veldt. My thoughts and ideas behind this poem were simply about how some parents choose to raise their children in today’s world. More specifically, in The Veldt, the children were raised by the nursery and not by their parents. The nursery became a better outlet for sharing their emotions and thoughts, leaving no need or space for a human parent.
Handing Over Life
By: Kelsey Stewart
As a child once so bright,
Now a parent handing over life.
Giving up on laughter, life, love
Simply programming it in to a system to give a child a hug.
Emotions never shown,
Parents in the unknown.
SnapChat now SnapCrack,
Teens hearts breaking trying to play the message back.
Handing over life to the machine we wish we could be,
Believing it can do a better job than me.
The influence of others may impact our lives,
The absence or the presence of someone deciding whether a child will rise.
What does the sun do when the moon is done,
Rising up all smiley and fun?
But what if the sun never shone?
What if it decided that lamps did a better job?
It would be handing over life, leaving it’s children feeling robbed.
The song that I used as background music is titled “Sweet Dreams (Sentimental Piano)” by Evening Relax-Thoughtful Jazz.
“A silent movie” is a title that comes to mind when I read this article. Temple Grandin, a women who invented a mechanism that calms cattle before getting slaughtered. A women who’s idea was inspired by her calming strategies through living a life with autism. Temple Grandin’s style of writing allows me to understand the content in a way that she understands life; through pictures and imagery. I believe this is how my sister, Kyla who also has autism, views the world. At the end of her article, she establishes that if she could snap her fingers and be “normal”, she wouldn’t change a thing. Learning about how Kyla’s brain may work and figuring out ways to help the pictures she sees be bright and colourful, is my favourite part about being her sister.