Study Guide

Charlotte Phelan in The Help

By Kathryn Stockett

Charlotte Phelan

Charlotte is Skeeter's mother and another ambiguous character. Like Skeeter, Charlotte actually goes through some big changes over the course of the novel. As she battles stomach cancer with sheer will, her biggest goal is getting Skeeter in "a man-meeting" situation (5.27) and making sure Skeeter doesn't have any "unnatural thoughts about […] [g]irls or women" (6.60). But, in an amazing and surprising moment, Charlotte gives Skeeter some advice:

"Don't let Stuart cheapen you. […] If Stuart doesn't know how intelligent and kind I raised you to be, he can march strait on back to State Street. […] He doesn't know how lucky he is to have you." (27.126)

All right, Charlotte!

Also to her credit, Charlotte is eventually honest about her altercation with Constantine's daughter Lulabelle, and the subsequent firing that lead to Constantine's disappearance from Skeeter's life. Nonetheless, the incident exposes the depths of Charlotte's racial prejudice. According to Skeeter, she doesn't see how she could have possibly done things differently. She could not let Lulabelle walk among the DAR ladies pretending to be a white woman. But Charlotte does mourn the loss of Constantine and appears to be opening up more to the fact that things aren't right in her community.