Comments By Maid Align ‘The Help’ Author With Her Snide White Characters
Kathryn Stockett was very forthcoming about one of her characters Aibileen, played by Viola Davis in the feature film, being based on her own family’s maid when she was a girl. But her brother’s maid, Ablene Cooper has accused the authoress of basing the character on her. She has sought $75,000 but the judge has officially thrown the case out.
If the similarity it names doesn’t seem like enough to convince you, consider this tidbit reported by NPR:
Besides the similarities in names, Cooper’s lawsuit says she lost a son shortly before going to work for Stockett’s brother, where she takes care of two children, a boy and a girl. Cooper’s lawsuit says that’s the same as the character portrayed in the book.
Kathryn gave Ablene a copy of The Help a month before it was published in January 2009, but she didn’t file a lawsuit until February 2011. Her reasoning for delaying such legal proceedings is that she had not read the book until 2011, but the judge dismissed the case because of a one-year statute of limitations.
I’m always inclined to give writers the benefit of the doubt when crafting fiction because, as a writer of fiction myself, I know that the collage of memories, life experiences, and character quilting can sometimes mirror actual events — even unintentionally. But even though Kathryn has yet to comment publicly on a case, NPR dug up this quote she shared during an interview in 2009:
“When I was writing this book I never thought anyone else would read it, so I didn’t get real creative with the names. I just used people I knew. Some of them aren’t talking to me right now, but I feel like they’ll come around.”
Ablene was quoted as saying of Kathryn, “She’s a liar. She did it. She knows she did it.”
Such accusations, although not resulting in a successful lawsuit, depict Kathryn almost as awfully as one her snide Jackson, Mississippi housewives.