Социолингвистические вопросы в романе Кэтрин Стокетт «Прислуга»

XII Международный конкурс научно-исследовательских и творческих работ учащихся
Старт в науке

Социолингвистические вопросы в романе Кэтрин Стокетт «Прислуга»

Карлов М.К. 1
1МБОУ «СОШ№3» с углубленным изучением отдельных предметов
Черноус М.И. 1Карлова С.К. 1
1МБОУ «СОШ№3» с углубленным изучением отдельных предметов
Автор работы награжден дипломом победителя II степени
Текст работы размещён без изображений и формул.
Полная версия работы доступна во вкладке "Файлы работы" в формате PDF

Америка – страна возможностей и инноваций. Страна, в которой царит демократия и ваше мнение важно для всех. Но так было не всегда.

Углубляясь в изучение истории Америки, мы можем наткнуться на колониальный период. Кэтрин Стокетт, американская писательница, жившая в двадцатом веке, поднимает множество расовых, культурных и социолингвистических вопросов в своем романе «Прислуга».

Целью моей работы я ставлю показать разницу в мировосприятии белых и черных американцев того времени опираясь на роман Кэтрин Стокетт «Прислуга».


Изучить время и обстоятельства написания произведения.

Показать разницу в культурном фоне белых и черных американцев.

С помощью примеров проиллюстрировать влияние прислуги на жизнь их работодателя.

Разобраться в скрытых посланиях автора будущим поколениям.

Новизна этой работы заключается в подробном разборе культурологических, религиозных и социолингвистических вопросов. Эта тема совсем не свежая, но ее можно отнести к разряду вечных. Если серьезно подойти к этому вопросу, мы честно можем сказать, что неприязнь белых американцев к черным передалась и в другие страны, даже в Россию.

Суммировав перечисленные выше аргументы, можно считать тему моей работы актуальной. Каждый человек сталкивается с людьми другой расы. Сейчас, живя в мире, где царит толерантность, терпимость, понимание и демократия мы, как представители Российской Федерации должны с детства знать и уважать культурные особенности других народов.


Annotation (Russian)……………………………………………………………………………...2

Short annotation……………………………………………………………………………….......3


Chapter 1. Biography of Catherine Stockett and her novel "The Help".........................................5

Chapter 2. Racial segregation in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s..….............................8

Chapter 3. Sociolinguistic question in the novel Catherine Stockett "The Help".........................11


Bibliographic list…………………………………………………………….....................……...16


America is a land of opportunity and innovation. A country where democracy reigns and your opinion is important to everyone. But this was not always the case.

Let's remember that the United States of America is the most multinational state. It is worth noting that the ethnic composition of this country is very diverse. The reason for this, of course, is the history of the United States.

Katherine Stockett, a twentieth-century American writer, raises many racial, cultural, and sociolinguistic questions in her novel “The Help”.

The purpose of my work is to show the difference in the worldview of white and black Americans at that time, based on the novel “The Help” by Catherine Stockett.

Tasks of the research work:

1. Study the time and circumstances of writing the work.

2. Show the difference in the cultural background of white and black Americans.

3. Use examples to illustrate the impact of domestic workers on the life of their employer.

4. Understand the hidden messages of the author to future generations.

The novelty of this research work lies in the detailed analysis of cultural, religious and sociolinguistic issues. This topic is not at all fresh, but it can be attributed to the category of eternal. If we take this issue seriously, we can honestly say that the dislike of white Americans for blacks has been transmitted to other countries, even to Russia.

Summing up the arguments listed above, we can consider the topic of my work relevant. Each person is confronted by people of a different race. Now, living in a world where tolerance, tolerance, understanding and democracy prevail, we, as representatives of the Russian Federation, should know and respect the cultural characteristics of other peoples from childhood.


Catherine Stockett (born 1969) is an American novelist. She is best known for her debut novel, "The Help", about African-American maids working for whites in Jackson, Mississippi, in the 1960s.

Stockett was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. As a child, she was friends with the future actor and director Tate Taylor.

Katherine graduated from the University of Alabama and has lived and worked in New York City for nine years since 2001. Katherine Stockett currently lives with her husband and daughter from a previous marriage in Atlanta.

In her debut novel "The Help", Catherine herself talks about herself, her feelings for the servants and for her home state of Mississippi in the last pages of the novel. Catherine tells about her servant-nanny – Demetri, who is the prototype of both Abelyn and Minnie and at the same time Constantine. The questions that the writer raises in her novel were considered vulgar and obscene at that time, and she was very worried about what her family and friends would think about her creation. But segregation did not give her peace of mind. She wanted to express and show the thoughts and feelings of women of color. Show their love for the white children they raise all their lives, and then they turn into their masters and forget everything that the colored nannies taught them.

C atherine Stockett wrote that the plot of "The Help" is fictional, but we clearly hear the writer's voice through the thoughts of her characters. When I read this novel to the end, I got the feeling that I was reading a novel within a novel. Katherine is writing a novel that features a Skeeter character writing a book about racial segregation. The book is really "thick", as the critics wrote about it, but it is read in one breath. You go back to the 1960s and you feel that Mississippi was a black hell at that time. As you know, Mississippi is one of the most conservative states in America, where the black population is still harassed with might and main, and children are brought up in the understanding that whites are the upper class, and blacks are able to be either servants or work in factories and factories. They can't go to movie theaters for whites, they can't eat with them in the same cafes, they can't sit next to them on buses, in general, they can't do a lot of things. At that time, the society still lives by the "Jim Crow Collection of Laws", which determine what is allowed and what is not allowed to colored people in the Southern States. Here, for example, how it was then considered correct:

«No one dares to require a white woman to take care of the sick in a room where Negroes are located. »

«A white man has the right to marry only a white man. Any union entered into in violation of this clause shall be deemed null and void. »

«A colored barber has no right to serve a white lady or girl. »

«Responsible persons are obliged to ensure that colored people are not buried in the same ground as white people. »

«There should be no exchange of books between schools for whites and colored people; books are used by the people of the race who first touched them. »

«Blacks and whites are forbidden to use the same water pumps, cinemas, public toilets, baseball stadiums, telephone booths, circuses. Negroes don't dare go into the same drugstore or buy postage stamps in the same window as a white man. »

As time goes on, however, Mississippi, as in other states, is beginning to grow resentful of such inequality.

The novel consists of chapters written from three characters: Miss Skeeter and two maids-Aibileen and Minnie. The language is simple and easy. And, interestingly, in the chapters written by the maids, the narration is more simple, as if the story is really told by the maids. In Miss Skeeter's chapters, the language is more refined, as one would expect from an educated girl.

The novel shows very well the society of the state of Mississippi in the middle of the last century, its features and way of life.


The first slaves came to America in 1619. It was then that the out-of-the-box war between the white and black populations of America began. I do not just make such a strong leap in time, because to fully understand the issue, you must get acquainted with the history of that time.

Many scientists and thinkers, such as G. Apteker, R. Weaver, and P. Kolchin, have dealt with issues of racial segregation. And, of course, they speak very negatively about slavery. Domestic historians may have paid even more attention to the struggle of African-Americans for freedom than researchers from America, this can be seen in the works of Ivanov, N. Zakharova, P. B. Umansky and D. O. Zaslavsky.

But let's go back to the time when Africans were first brought to America. After all, they immediately began to be sold as cheap labor. Now we think it's terrible, how can you buy a person? But in those days, almost no race managed to avoid such a phenomenon as"slavery". Everyone knows perfectly well what the term slavery is, but still, I think it is necessary to put it here, so that the picture I want to show you is sufficiently illustrated.

Slavery — historically, it is a system of organization of society, where a person (slave) is the property of another person (master, slave owner, master) or the state. Previously, prisoners, criminals and debtors were taken as slaves, and later civilians were forced to work for their master. Slavery in this form was widespread until the 19th century.

Let's move on to the issue of segregation. Imagine that you have lived in a slave-owning society for a very long time, almost all your life. You knew that slaves are filth, disease, unsanitary conditions, something that your white aristocratic hands have never touched. You knew where their place was and where yours was. And then comes 1865 – the year when slavery was officially abolished. People who were slaves yesterday began to have the same opportunities and rights (utopian) as much as you do. But with all this, both the black and white population of America still have borders in their heads that have not yet been demolished. From all of the above, we can conclude that the beginning of segregation was laid in the minds, on the psychological level, of both black and white Americans. And if it lives in the head, then it will definitely result in something in life.

A ll this resulted in a lot of social barriers. Separate bathrooms, separate schools, buses, residential areas, military units, police, shops, churches, and so on. Legally, racial segregation is abolished, but in fact it can still be found today.

S egregation was not only in schools or on transport, it also occurred in public places. So in Chicago, a black teenager was killed because he swam in the lake on the side "for whites".

I think it is very important to give an illustration of the life of African Americans in the 1950s and 1960s.

A fter all, it is very important to understand how they lived and what reigned in their soul. What Catherine Stockett describes in her book is completely consistent with those stories from real life

Separate toilets, schools, libraries, churches, shops, amusement parks, somewhere colored people were simply not allowed on the threshold, and somewhere they created separate entrances, ticket offices and fitting rooms. Now it is clear why African Americans do not like whites and why they cannot fully trust us, because indeed, their culture, their people have suffered so much simply because they were born with skin not the same color as ours.


When reading Catherine Stockett's novel "The Help" in the original, the reader is often faced with lexical errors, illiteracy, incorrect construction of words in a sentence, and other errors. Is Katherine Stockett was illiterate? Of course not! It's just that she was able to convey the peculiarities of the speech of African Americans very clearly and clearly, as if she specifically recorded all their mistakes for them.

In general, when considering this question, linguists still cannot understand why African Americans said this and, frankly, still say it. On this issue, scientists are divided into several camps, or rather into three: extremists, dialecticists, and scientists who believe that this is a standard form of language.

When we listen to African-American English, we clearly understand that it sounds completely different from that of white Americans. This is indicated by their phonetics. For example, African Americans do not have a thick "R" sound after vowels: car-cah, summertime-summehtime. They also do not pay attention to the interdental sound "th", pronouncing it as "d", "t" "f" "v". Another phonetic example: "in" endings with a nasal final sound are simplified and pronounced simply "in". Similarly, African-Americans do not think about the accent and the correctness of its formulation.

The grammar of "Black English" is considered unique. It is simplified to such an extent that sometimes you can only guess at what time the story is going on. Speaking of negatives, black African Americans do not think it is wrong to put a double or even triple negation.

The vocabulary of African Americans is also unique, some of them have taken from folklore, some from the church, and some from the criminal world. Considering the church issue, we can safely say that the church has given African-Americans a huge layer of vocabulary. It was in the church that the slaves could safely communicate with each other and share their innermost thoughts. It is thanks to the church that African Americans pay so much attention to the words: Brother, Sister, Soul.

It is interesting to know that the most common method of creating new words in Black English was to borrow words of a literary level from English. But the borrowing was not complete, African Americans were forced to speak in a "secret" language, and therefore changed the meaning of the borrowed words. So, in the opposite sense, the words were used: stupid (stupid) – "good", the offensive nigga ("nigger") in communication between their own takes the meaning of"comrade, brother, friend". Fat – bold) - however, it is even written as phat-cool. You be phat! - You're cool! Dope (drug) also takes on the meaning of "excellent", and death (death) in the spelling and pronunciation of def means the same as cool.

Well, we have figured out the reasons for the appearance of Black English in America. Returning to the novel "The Help" by Catherine Stockett, I want to remind you that writing very skillfully showed all the features of the language of African Americans in the 1960s. To prove this, I want to give examples that I found in the original novel.

From the very first pages of the work, we see a clear border between the language of white and colored people. We will look at the three brightest representatives of each group. Eugenia Phelan (Skeeter) – speaks perfectly in the purest, literary English. Abilene and Minnie are typical representatives of Black English, who use abbreviations, double negatives, grammatical violations, etc. in their speech.

After analyzing the novel, we can provide several examples of Black English speech. In fact, they are found on almost every page of this work, but a few examples will suffice to demonstrate the typical speech of African Americans.

On the first pages, we find a description of the life of Aibileen's servants " Taking care of a white babies, that's what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime». Here we see a typical example of a particular African-American dialect.

The next scene, when Miss Skeeter asks Aibileen about what it's like to raise a white child when your own is under the care of another person "It feels..." - A typical African-American way of ignoring the times. Many linguists who specialize in the dialect of African Americans have found that only five tenses used can be officially entered there. This category also includes the phrase " God don't pay no mind to color once…»

Also in the book, the author illustrates a lot of abbreviations that African Americans use in their slang-dialect "gonna, y'all, ain't, y, etc""like them boy" the wrong pronoun is chosen, in the sense it is better to put "that".

The following lines can also be attributed to the grammatical features of the African-American dialect: "She knows what I did...". "In what time do you want me here?" - here there is an omission of the main members of the sentence.

«Aibee, my froat hurts" is the phrase May Mobley utters when Aibileen is fired. Here we can consider the phonetic feature that I wrote about earlier. The "th" sound is replaced by "f".

And the most important phrase in the book, which Aibileen says for May Mobley, sounds fundamentally wrong – "You ARE smart, you ARE kind, you ARE important". Here we see a complete lack of understanding about the verb "to be.»

Of course, all the examples do not fit in the pages of my work, but the examples that I have given, in my opinion, illustrate the sociolinguistic question quite well in Catherine Stockett's novel "The Servant".


The work "The Help", written by the American writer Catherine Stokkett, is simply phenomenal both in its composition and in its component. In our time, it is quite difficult to find a good book that can catch not only intrigues, but also philosophical questions. I think that after reading this work, every reader has rethought some of their beliefs.

Of course, the main theme of the book is the racist question. The question is the difference in the cultures of colored and white Americans. Living in the same country, in almost equal conditions. (Of course, if we consider them from the government side) People just can't find a common language. And the language in this work is different. The white part of the population speaks the purest English of the literary level, using ornate phrases, metaphors, and so on. Black English is not a developed language. This is a sub-language. After all, many scientists have not yet determined exactly whether it is a language or a dialect. What influences its formation? Environment? Territory? Roots? Why, after so many years, have African Americans still not been able to move away from Black English? Perhaps this way they want to preserve their culture and the memory of their ancestors. But maybe it's just not the desire to develop. It's so good to be understood by those who need it. And let the others do what they want.

Another hypothesis about the language of African Americans was put forward by R. L. Williams, Doctor of Psychology, professor at Washington University in St. Louis. He called the language of African Americans - "Ebonix". The word literally means "black phonetics" (from ebony – black and phonetics – phonetics). In 1997, Williams spoke at a Senate hearing, where he demanded the linguistic status of a full language for Ebonics. Ebonics, he argued, had its own vocabulary system, its own grammatical structure, and its own morphology. Many linguistic and non-linguistic features (gestures, facial expressions, pause placeholders) make it related to the languages and dialects spoken in West Africa and the Caribbean. In Ebonics, he argued, there are local dialects, jargons, and social dialects – everything that is inherent in a real language.

On December 18, 1996, the school board of the City of Oakland, California (a city particularly known for its cultural tolerance) issued the "Oakland Resolution" proposing to legalize teaching in Ebonics, the native language of Black children: standard English is harder for them to learn. The resolution worked as a detonator: a storm of political debates, "culture wars" broke out, hearings in the Senate and numerous conferences of linguists and cultural scientists began. The main objection to granting Ebonics a special school status is very simple: children taught on it will never master standard English, will not be able to cope with tests, will not fit into a society that speaks standard, will remain social marginals, will not succeed in life.

On the topic of Ebonics, they began to make nasty jokes, portraying black Americans as criminals, drug dealers, stupid, lazy, unambitious. Sexually preoccupied, embittered, living only on instinct. Unemployed and on social benefits. And attempts to legitimize Ebonics as a language of instruction began to be called an official recognition of the intellectual underdevelopment of its native speakers. So the term, which was originally intended to rally black Americans, has become a symbol of social and cultural degradation.

African Americans of the 1960s and 1970s are the lowest social class. Their shops, hospitals, transportation, schools, all of this is nothing compared to what the whites have. But the desire to change the world, perseverance and faith in freedom have done their job, and now every African-American child can become president of the United States.


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