Monday, January 31, 2011

Ignorance

Miss Celia is pretty much described as a ditzy blonde. She can't cook. She can't clean. She comes across (& Minny even describes her as) the laziest human being ever. (Though reasons for this sloth-like behavior are explained).


But possibly the most ironic description of Miss Celia's lack of knowledge comes from Minny. She says,
"See, I think if God had intended white people and colored people to be this close together for so much of the day, he would've made us colorblind...how did she (Miss Celia) get this far in life without knowing where the lines are drawn?...Every white woman I've ever worked for ate in the dining room as far away from the colored help as they could..."

Miss Celia replies-- "'But why? I don't want to eat in there all by myself when I could eat in here with you'"...

Minny-- "I didn't even try to explain it to her. There are so many things Miss Celia is just plain ignorant about."

(Quotes from The Help, pages 215-216)

I find this funny because as I teach the Civil Rights Movement to my 5th graders, and I tell them all of the awful things that happened to African-Americans, one of the adjectives I use to describe these evil-doers is "ignorant." Most southern whites were raised, like the women in this book, to be predjudice-- they don't really know any better. This is the very thing that Abileen talks about breaking her heart-- and she is dreading the day that Mae Mobley becomes like her mother and thus judgemental of those different than her.


But for a black maid to describe a white woman as ignorant because she is NOT predjudice certainly made me smile. It's all in a point of view. Perspective. Looking back, I view Miss Celia as ahead of her time-- and she didn't even realize it.


Miss Celia comes across to Minny as child-like and immature in many areas. But it is this child-like innocence that makes her unique and unlike the other ladies she is trying so desperately to fit in with. She sits with Minny at the table to eat, talks to Minny and refers to her as a friend, and trusts Minny with secrets that she cannot entrust to anyone else.

 I think if God had intended white people and colored people to be this close together for so much of the day, he would've made us colorblind...
I love that line... Sometimes I wonder if he did make some people colorblind... "Ignorant people" like Miss Celia... Educated and intelligent people like Miss Skeeter, and Martin Luther King, Jr.

(sigh)

I'm on pg. 238-- getting there!!

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