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The Help

The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

The Help Chapter 11 Summary

How It All Goes Down

  • This chapter is narrated by Skeeter. She drives to Aibileen's for their first interview, some time in February 1963.
  • Aibileen tells Skeeter she was born in 1909 at Piedmont Plantation.
  • Her grandmother was a slave and her mother was a maid. Aibileen always knew she would be a maid.
  • She's terrified during the interview and doesn't tell Skeeter much about herself at all.
  • Soon, her nerves give out, and she tells Skeeter she isn't sure she can talk about her life.
  • Four days later, Skeeter goes over to Elizabeth's to play bridge.
  • Elizabeth says Aibileen has too much work and can't help with the Miss Myrna column today. She has a note from Aibileen about the column, though, and gives it to Skeeter.
  • The note says, "I know how to make the teapot stop rattling" (11.71). Skeeter realizes this is a coded message that means Aibileen is ready to try to talk again.
  • She calls Aibileen and learns that Aibileen wants to write her story down and then read it to Skeeter. Skeeter isn't happy about this. She thinks, "I'll have to rewrite everything she's written" (11.82).
  • When she tells Aibileen that writing is a difficult thing, Aibileen tells her she spends an hour or two every day writing her prayers already. Skeeter is impressed.
  • A couple of days after the bridge game, Skeeter goes back to Aibileen's and Aibileen reads while Skeeter types on the Corona typewriter she brings with her.
  • Aibileen reads about how she was fired from her first cleaning job when she was thirteen. She reads, "Shame ain't black, like dirt, like I always thought it was. Shame be the color of a new white uniform your mother ironed all night to pay for […]" (11.99).
  • Skeeter is surprised by how rough the stories are, and finds herself hanging on Aibileen's every word. She decides that Aibileen's way "just might work" (11.106).
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