Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Help

Illusion verus reality is a dominant theme in the novel The Help by Katherine Stockett. The maids, their families, and Skeeter all understand the reality of hate and unspoken white heirarchy in the south, while the white community either turns a blind eye or remains clueless. The issues that arise because of this harsh contrast in thinking include the loss of love (with Mae Mobley and Aibleen) the loss of friendships (Skeeter, Hilly, and Elizabeth), and even loss of life (Constantine). The denial leads to defensive actions, especially by Hilly, like when she had Yule May arrested for "theft". Reality and illusion have a defined and thick line between them, and it divides the entire community: those who recognize and see the need to address this automatic hate, and those who prefer to reside in their bubbles of ignorance.

The Odyssey

One thing that is directly linked between my big question and Homer's The Odyssey is Odysseous and Telemakos's relationship. The story begins from Telemakos' point of view, illustrating the desparity of the situation; it then moves on to Odysseous, and doesn't return to Telemakos until Odysseous returns himself. The survival of Odysseous is his son's illusion, while in the meantime it is obviously his reality. Telemakos has to have faith that his father is on his way, even though the suitors criticize him for it; it seems as though he has such blind trust it is almost fake- an illusion. However, if Telemakos lost faith in his father's return, Odysseous would not be welcome: Penelope would remarry, and Telemakos would move on with only a resentment left in the place of his missing father. His trecherous journey would have been pointless. Therefore, if his son lost his faith in the illusion of his father returning, Odysseous's reality would have been all for nothing.

Big Question

What are the potential conflicts when one person's reality is another's illusion?