The Help

To What Extent Do To Kill a Mockingbird, The Help, and Get Out Engage with White Poverty in their Depiction of White Women? College

With the defeat of Jefferson Davis’ confederacy in 1865, the American South became a region marked by poverty. The Civil War not only destroyed large amounts of Southern infrastructure, but also devastated the demographic that would typically be working and generating economy within the South – military-age men. This was coupled with the loss of their largest source of income – slavery. Unsurprisingly, the culture of poverty generated by these factors quickly trickled into Southern literature, and poverty – white poverty especially – remains a recurring theme within the Southern Gothic genre to which To Kill a Mockingbird, The Help, and Get Out belong.

Poverty is a significant theme to consider within Lee, Stockett, and Peele’s works in relation to white womanhood in America, because it allows for an engagement with the apparent tendency within historical research on white women in the post-bellum period, to assume that the same level of power was available to all white women. This assumption has typically ignored intersections of privilege, and thus has neglected to examine the impact that social class has in determining the power a white woman yields in her community.

In To Kill a Mockingbird, Lee’s depiction of the Ewell...

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