Like One of the Family,
which provides historical context for Kathryn Stockett's novel, The Help,
is comprised of a series of conversations between Mildred, a black domestic, and her friend Marge. They create a vibrant picture of the life of a black working woman in New York in the 1950s.Rippling with satire and humor, Mildred’s outspoken accounts capture vividly her white employers’ complacency and condescension—and startled reactions to a maid who speaks her mind. As Mildred declares to a patronizing employer that she is not just like one of the family, or explains to Marge how a tricky employer has created a system of “half days off” to cheat her help, we gain a glimpse not only of one woman’s day to day struggle, but of her previous ache of racial oppression. A domestic who refuses to exchange dignity for pay, Mildred is an inspiring conversationalist, a dragon slayer in a segregated world.
The conversations in the book were first published in Freedom,
the newspaper edited by Paul Robeson, and later in the Baltimore Afro-American
. The book was originally published in the 1950s by in Brooklyn–based Independence Press, and Beacon Press brought out a new edition of it in 1986 with an introduction by the literary and cultural critic Trudier Harris.
“A novel that proves that humor can be the deadliest of weapons..If power were based on worth, Mildred would be running ther nation, not claeaning someone else’s house.” –Women’s Review of Books
“Like One of the Family celebrates the image of black women most common to their history and suggests they are no less dignified for having spent time on their knees. Mildred scrubs and soars.” –From the introduction by Trudier Harris