The Help Chapter 20 Summary
How It All Goes Down
- The Phelan family is at Senator Whitworth's mansion for dinner. When Stuart's mother Francine runs her hand down Skeeter's arm, "a prong of her ring scratches [Skeeter's] skin" (20.15).
- Senator "call me Stooley" Whitworth, a big drinker, looks sad that Phelans don't order drinks of their own.
- One of the maids gives Skeeter a look and Skeeter realizes she's heard about the book!
- Next topic: Skeeter's writing. Charlotte repeats Skeeter's latest fib, "Eugenia is writing about the life of Jesus Christ" (20.49). Francine looks on approvingly.
- Somehow, the conversation keeps coming around to Patricia, Stuart's ex. Awkward much?
- Finally, Stuart arrives.
- There is more Patricia-talk. Stuart just gets angrier and angrier.
- The recent shooting of Medgar Evers comes up too. Skeeter's dad Carlton says, "I'll be honest. […] It makes me sick to hear about that kind of brutality. […] I'm ashamed, sometimes, ashamed of what goes on in Mississippi" (20.79).
- Stooley starts to agree with Carlton, but Francine stops him.
- After dinner, Stooley tells Skeeter that Stuart was almost "dead" (20.119) after the break up with Patricia. He wants to know if Stuart's doing better. Skeeter says she doesn't know. We're still not sure why they're telling all of this to his current girlfriend…
- Next, she and Stuart talk on the back porch. Skeeter learns that Patricia cheated on Stuart with a white civil rights activist. He would have taken her back, but her involvement with an activist could jeopardize Stooley's political aspirations.
- Stuart tells Skeeter he wants to call their relationship off for a little while, so he can "get his head straight" (20.155).
- When they head back to the house, they smile so nobody knows they just broke up.