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B.1 Theoretical Framework B.1.2 Sociology of Literature Theory


Academic year: 2019

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This chapter consists of three points, they are: theory of sociology, mimetic approach, social condition in Jackson Mississippi and relevant researches.

B.1 Theoretical Framework

B.1.2 Sociology of Literature Theory

Sociology of literature is a part of literary critics. It focuses on studying literature by considering the aspects of social life. Sociology of literature is derived from the word “sociology” and “literature”. Literature is a social institution that uses

a language for the media; language is a social creation which describes the depiction of life.

Further, Ratna (2004:60) also mentions that philosophical principle of literary sociology approach is the authentically relations between works of literature and society. Those relations happen since works of literature are created by the authors. The authors themselves, indeed, are the members of society which of course, this matter cannot be separated.

Literature is the mirror of the society; the sociologist said that novel is a mirror to the real condition which reflected the society in that period, as Semi said:


dalam karya sastra menerima pengaruh dari masyarakat dan sekaligus mampu memberi pengaruh terhadap masyarakat bahkan seringkali masyarakat sangat menentuka nilai karya sastra yang hidup di suatu zaman, sementara sastrawan itu sendiri yang merupakan anggota masyarakat tidak dapat mengelak dari adanya pengaruh yang diterimanya dari lingkungan yang membesarkannya.” (1997: 73)

Semi explains that sociology of literature is not just the picture of the society life in certain era when the author just retells the events of the social life in that era, but the sociology of literature where the author takes the part in the middle of the society gives the ideas through the literary work about the social problems which has experienced himself.

Sociology of Literature has principle that literary work is reflection of the age or society when it is written, because as member of society the writer cannot be separated from the society. Wellek and Warren via Damono (1978: 3) give 3 classifications that are related with sociology of literature, those are:

a. Sociology of author. The problem that is related is social background, status of author, and ideology.

b. Sociology of literary work. The problem that is discussed is about the contents of literary work, the purpose or message, and the other things that is implicit in literary work itself and related with social problem.


This thesis uses the classification from Wellek and Warren about the sociology of literary work. The sociology of literary work classification explains about social problems and its connection with the content of literary work, purpose, and message that is implicit in the literary work. In the sociology of literary work, the subject of discussion is the literary work itself. The sociology of literary work approach will review literary work that has social aspect. It is because literature is the product of an author, so literary work cannot be separated from the social life of society.

Furthermore, Ratna defines further that

Sociology of literature is a sociological study about the literary work. Literary has connection with the society, since literary sociology tries to explore the relation between literary work and the reality of society” (Ratna, 2004: 335)

Sociological studies of literature and literary practice seem to have bloomed during the 1970s and crested in the 1980s, with the publication of a collection of essays on the subject (Desan, 1989:309). However, there seems to have been little sociological research on literature or novels before or after.


social condition at the time. From the characters thought, speech, and attitude of the novel toward to get freedom and no prejudice anymore, we can find the real social condition of society toward social segregation during 1960s. All of characters attitude and behavior toward to the social condition themselves, actually reflects the society’s view toward the social segregation of black and white at the time. By

using this theory, it is hoped that the real situation of what happened in South America will be revealed.

B.1.3 Mimetic

The researcher uses the mimetic approach. This approach means that literary works is the reflections of the reality. This reflection based on the imitation and the author’s imagination of life’s reality. It means that Stockett makes the work based on her reflection of the life’s portrait. So, the idea that Stockett uses is not the original. The researcher only sees and feels the reality and reflects it in the work.

Abrams (1953: 8) “…Art imitates the world of appearance and not of Essence,

it follows that works of art have a lowly status in the order of existing things…”

Mimetically bind our experience of reality to subjectivity and connote a sensuous experience that is beyond reference to reality.

In Kathryn Stockett’s The Help, Stockett tries to portray the segregation in


people as carry-disease and thinking that black people is not human. Black people become an object of prejudice by white people.

B.1.4 Segregation

Segregation is the separation of people based on race, religion, ethnic group, sex or social class. In the United States, racial segregation has been the most widespread and visible form.

According to Webster’s Dictionary,

To segregate is defined as to separate or set apart from others; isolate or to require, often with force, the separation of a specific racial, religious, or other group from the body of society. (1996:1214)

It means blacks should not socialize with white Americans; race becomes the distance among them. Even the church must be separated; the whites have their own church even the blacks. Segregation does not only limit black people physically, but also economically by low payment, and socially by blocking access to schooling and jobs. Mostly segregation appears in daily life such as separation on eating in a restaurant, drinking from a water fountain, using a public toilet, attending school, and going to the movies, or in the rental or purchase of a home.


activities and facilities have spread in the South, requiring the segregation of whites and blacks in the public space.

Segregation was not only applied by law, but also by some forms of physical violence. African Americans were forced to sit only in the back row-seat of buses and trains, use "black only" water fountains, and enter through the back doors of hotels and restaurants. Under Jim Crow laws, blacks could be denied to use public transportation and public facilities and banded from juries, neighborhoods, schools and jobs.

The term Jim Crow referred to an African-American character in a popular song composed in the 1830s. The word was used to describe a law and this law had already been introduced after that time to enforce racial separation. Besides the design of formal law, there was also been recognized a song called ‘Jumping Jim Crow’ and the lyrics were as follows:

"Come listen all you galls and boys, I'm going to sing a little song, My name is Jim Crow.

Weel about and turn about and do jis so, Eb'ry time I weel about I jump Jim Crow."


oppressed blacks, particularly in the South. Many whites refused to welcome blacks into social life.

The following Jim Crow etiquette norms, Jan Biles (2004) show how inclusive and pervasive these norms were:

• A black man couldn't offer his hand or shake hands with a white man because it implied social equality. A black man couldn't offer a hand or any other part of his body to a white woman without the risk of being accused of rape.

 A black man couldn't offer to light a white woman's cigarette, because that implied intimacy.

• Blacks and whites weren't to eat together. If they did, the whites were served first, and some sort of partition was moved between them and the black diners.

• Blacks were introduced to whites, never whites to blacks.

• Whites didn't use courtesy titles, such as Mr., Mrs. or Miss, when referring to blacks. Blacks were called by their first names. Blacks had to use courtesy titles when referring to whites and weren't allowed to call whites by their first names.

• If a black person rode in a car driven by a white person, the black person sat in the back seat or the back of a truck.


B.1.5 Social Condition in Jackson Mississippi During 1960s

By choosing and examining the way in which the segregation of black American device their legal theory in form of society rules in 20th century American society in America, Mississippi, Kathryn Stockett’s The Help represents the reality of

segregation in Jackson Mississippi. Furthermore, Jackson, Mississippi in the early 1960s a century after the American Civil War, the work makes clear, African-American women had few options but to work as advantaged domestics for wealthy white families. While socialites trusted the raising of their children to the maids, the latter were only able to take care of their own families.

Life in poverty Mississippi in the 20th century was cruel and unfair, especially for the black population. From 1882 to 1930, some 537 blacks were murdered. The murder which rose by frighten in number in the post-Reconstruction period were deep greater in the development of modern American capitalism and the inequality and social poverty, and social struggle, it generated. Racism was consciously used as a device to divide whites and blacks. Helpings of the most poverty-stricken and

oppressed of the white population bought into the racist argument, but economic and social transformation, including the organized rise of the industrial working class in the 1930s and postwar years.


architects of great literature and race politicians. In Jackson the residence were separated, between black and white. Beautiful houses in Jackson's Belhaven area, these was one of the earliest residential areas in Jackson, and begun spreading north from downtown in the 19th century (belonging to white people like Hilly and her friends) are far different from those across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge (occupied by African Americans like Minny and Aibileen) and It was built in 1925. This residence was captured into the novel chapter two,

“…I take the bus across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to where Miss Leefolt and all her white friends live, in a neighborhood call Belhaven.

Right next to Belhaven be the downtown and the state capital. Capitol building is real big, pretty on the outside but I never been in it. I wonder what they pay to clean that place.” (Stockett, 2009: 12)

Down the road from Belhaven is white Woodland Hills, then Sherwood Forest, which is miles a big live oaks with the moss hanging down. Nobody living in it yet, but it’s there for when the white folks is ready to move somewhere else new.” (Stockett, 2009: 12)

From the explanation above we can see that black and white were separated, not only their physical material and social relation. Anyhow black people


A Confederate State, during America's Civil War, Mississippi is itself a land of contrast. With some of the best plant soil in the world, its Delta area is also home to poverty-stricken people. Highly respected schools like the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford attract well prepared students while poorer school districts suffer from continuously tuition.

In the case of The Help, there is a connection between the author and the work itself. Stockett’s character is well built and forms a mirror to what life was

during that time period. She shared what her experience feeling based on her childhood housekeeper, Demetrie, and the longing she felt for her after Demetrie passed away. As Stockett soon learned, her feelings would beat with people through the country who shared similar relationships with the maids and nannies who worked in their childhood homes.

Some sources mentioned it reflects Stockett parts of her life, Calkin said that:

“Stockett grew up in Jackson, Mississippi. After graduating from the University of Alabama with a degree in English and Creative Writing, she moved to New York City. There she lived for 16 years and worked in magazine publishing and marketing. She is divorced, and has a daughter”. (Calkin, 2009: 10)


courageously. The maids succeed in getting their voices heard, but there is a sense that even harder times are coming for them, which is in fact the case.

The British cover to Kathryn Stockett’s The Help about the experiences of black maids in Mississippi in the early 1960s. Stockett’s life growing up in Jackson in

the late 1970s is not really comparable with the time her book is set in the early 1960s; but even now most of the well-off white families in Mississippi have maids, and most of them are black.

B.2 Relevant Researches

One of the researches was done by Wahyuningsih (2007) entitled Rejection of the Assumption of Human Rights in America in “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” that found some facts that black people is not like the assumption given by

Americans. From this research, there is information about racism that can be understandable in The Help to support this study.

Harper Lee’s View of Human Equality as Reflected in “To Kill a Mockingbird”

by Sarira (2013) analyzed human equality between black and white, so that this research can give the researcher better understanding about human equality in this study.

Mark Twain’s Worldview of Racism in The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn by


racism in real life to his work. He creates the work based on his experiences. Americans treat black so badly.

Another research using literary sociology theory written by Na’mah (2011), entitled Concept of Marriage as Reflected in Jane Austin’s Pride and Prejudice. From

this thesis the application of using sociology of literature in analyzing the literary work can be understood and very helpful and getting much information about sociology.


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