Contest Winner + S4L Book Club – The Help

Contest Winner

Ziggy, you’re it! Pick a Funk & Weber pattern, any pattern.

Great answers. Kat, you cracked me up! Harriet, awesome poem! Although, I will argue strenuously about the claim that Ukulele Land has the best fish. Although, that depends entirely on the kind of fish we’re talking about. If we’re talking about fish we eat, I think Alaska’s fish are much better and more readily available than Hawaii’s. If we’re talking tropical fish to view while snorkeling and diving, well, Hawaii beats Alaska, to be sure, but what about, say, the Great Barrier Reef?

I know you weren’t thinking that hard about it. The claim was for descriptive purposes, and, as such, worked perfectly.

So, where were we?

KauaiIn fact, we were here:
The Universe
Milky way
Solar system
Northern hemisphere
Pacific region

Those are the Wailua Falls, and the cliff edge overlooks the Nualolo Valley on the NaPali coast. I loved that coastline and that hike.

Mike’s been editing over 2,000 images this past week, and I expect one or both of us will have an album on Facebook in the not-too-distant future. I’ll put a link to it here, so no worries if you’re not on Facebook.

And now back to our (ir)regularly scheduled program.

S4L Book Club – The Help

If they’re available, I read the canned questions from reading group guides before starting a discussion here. The first canned question for The Help is “Who was your favorite character? Why?” I immediately dismissed it as a lame question. But then I got to thinking. (And isn’t that the point? Which makes the lameness where? Ahem.)

My first response was that I liked Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny equally. (Lame.) My thoughts were limited to the viewpoint characters for no particular reason. And then I thought some more. (Pushing past the lameness.)

After further consideration, I decided that Aibileen was my favorite character, probably because I relate best to her. I can see similarities in our circumstances, motivations, actions, and hopes.

I like Skeeter and Minny, and I’d want to be their friend, as Aibileen is, but I don’t relate to them in as many ways as I relate to Aibileen. Their circumstances and motivations are not as similar to my own.

And this leads me to another question: How important is it for you to relate to a character in a story? Do you need to see yourself in a character to enjoy the story?

For some reason, Ender’s Game comes to mind as a comparison. Did I relate to Ender? I certainly didn’t relate to his circumstances, and I don’t think I saw much of myself in him. But I enjoyed that character and book very much. I imagine that just having human feelings will always connect me in some way to a character (even animal characters) with human feelings.

Part of me thinks that relating to characters is what draws a reader into a story, but I’m not convinced that the more I can relate to a character, the more I’ll enjoy the story. I think other factors—interesting plot, language, structure—influence the experience, too, and can make up for a lack of seeing myself in a character.

However, I do think that in the case of The Help, seeing myself in Aibileen contributed significantly to my enjoyment of the story.

So, who was your favorite character and why? How important is it to you to relate to a character in a story? What impact did relating or not relating to a character in this story have on your overall enjoyment? Was some other factor more significant?

Categories: Reading

3 replies »

  1. I guess I fall into the lame category, as I’m unable to choose a favorite character. I didn’t know they were in a contest, vying for my affection! If I did, I would have read more carefully.

    I don’t think one has to relate to characters, or see themselves in characters, to appreciate them and their stories. Just as you described with Ender, there are plenty of times that I enjoy aspects of characters that have absolutely nothing to do with me.

    Moreso than the characters and their traits, it’s the emotion that a book evokes in me that holds it dear in my heart.

    I hope that my writing isn’t too confusing here. I don’t have the wherewithal at the moment to try to word it better.