The Home of Jim Crow: Toilets and Matter in Kathryn Stockett’s The Help
This chapter looks at another charged site in the US (southern) imaginary: the home, and particularly the bathroom. It analyzes Kathryn Stockett’s novel The Help (2010) through the lens of embodiment in and around toilets, especially the materialization of feces and urine. Extending the psycho/somatic logics of Chap. 2, the chapter shows how the black body in this historical novel is shaped by Jim Crow segregation in the southern home. Beginning with a brief discussion of Claudia Rankine’s Citizen (2014), the chapter then goes on to survey the continual toileting of The Help’s characters and a major plot point that involves a chocolate pie filled with feces primarily through the lens of psychoanalysis. While academic commentators have largely critiqued the book, the argument here is that its representations of bodily waste and instability reveal legacies of the US past.
KeywordsJim Crow Kathryn Stockett Domesticity Segregation Psychoanalysis The Help
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