Study Guide

The Help

The Help Summary

The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi and begins in August 1962. The novel features three main narrators – Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. 53-year-old Aibileen Clark starts us off.

Aibileen is a black woman who works for a white family, the Leefolts. Mae Mobley Leefolt is two years old, and Aibileen considers the girl her "special baby" (1.6). Mae Mobley is physically abused and neglected by her mother, Elizabeth. Throughout the novel Aibileen does all she can to boost Mae Mobley's self-esteem and tries to teach her about civil rights and racial equality. Aibileen's own son, Treelore, dies senselessly in a workplace accident, some months before Aibileen began working for the Leefolts.

Aibileen observes the bridge game being played today at the Leefolts. In attendance are Hilly Holbrook and Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, Elizabeth Leefolt's best friends, who are all in their early twenties, like Elizabeth. Hilly tells Skeeter she's working to have a law passed that would make it mandatory for white families to build outside bathrooms for their black employees. Skeeter suggests Hilly should have a bathroom outside, and thus begins a slow boiling feud between the two women. After the bridge game, Skeeter apologizes to Aibileen about the bathroom talk and asks her, "Do you ever wish you could…change things?" (1.88).

On the bus home, Aibileen warns her best friend, 36-year-old Minny Jackson, who takes care of Hilly's mother (Miss Walter or Miss Walters, depending on whether Aibileen or Minny is talking) that Hilly is calling Minny a thief. Miss Walter is going to a nursing home, and Minny's been trying to find a new job. Now she knows why no one has hired her. She tells Aibileen she did something terrible to Hilly, something involving a pie, but she won't say what.

Several days later, Minny finds work at the home of Johnny and Celia Rae Foote. Johnny is Hilly's ex, and Celia Rae, a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, is from deep in the country. She is shunned by the high-society ladies throughout the novel. Celia makes Minny promise to keep herself a secret from her husband Johnny, causing Minny much stress.

After the bridge game at the Leefolts', Skeeter goes home to Longleaf, her family's cotton plantation. We learn that during Skeeter's senior year at college, Constantine, her family's maid and Skeeter's best friend and confidante for some twenty years, mysteriously disappeared. Nobody will tell Skeeter why, though.

We find out Skeeter is in contact with an editor at a publishing house in New York, Elaine Stein. Miss Stein encourages Skeeter to get any job she can find at a newspaper and then use her free time trying to find something controversial to write about.

Skeeter scores a job at the Jackson Journal writing the Miss Myrna column, a column about housework and relationships, two things she knows nothing about. With Elizabeth's reluctant permission, Skeeter starts meeting with Aibileen to get answers to the questions readers send in. Skeeter learns that Aibileen's son Treelore was writing a book about his experiences in Mississippi at the time of his death. This inspires Skeeter to try to convince the local maids to be interviewed for a book that will show their points of view.

Hilly sets Skeeter up on a blind date with Stuart Whitworth, a Senator's son. Stuart gets drunk and insults Skeeter. She never wants to see him again. In December, Minny is discovered by Johnny Foote, her employer's husband. She's terrified of what he'll do to her, a strange black woman in his bedroom. But her fears are in vain – Johnny realized his wife Celia had help as soon as the cooking improved. He's glad Minny is here. Johnny asks Minny to pretend that he doesn't know about her, though.

Aibileen, an avid writer, agrees to work with Skeeter on the book about the lives of the maids of Jackson, and they begin spending their evenings together. Eventually, Minny also agrees to work with them. Aibileen tries to get other maids involved, but they are all too frightened. Skeeter steals a pamphlet from the library that lists Jim Crow laws.

Three months after their failed first date, Skeeter and Stuart go out again and even share a passionate kiss. Stuart becomes a regular part of Skeeter's life, though he doesn't know about her secret writing project.

In May of 1963, Celia has a miscarriage and reveals that it's her fourth. She's afraid that if she can't have babies, Johnny won't want her anymore. When Minny tries to convince her that Johnny loves her, Celia realizes that Minny and Johnny have met. She begs Minny to pretend to Johnny that Celia doesn't know Johnny knows about Minny – got it?

In July, Hilly's maid, Yule May, steals one of her rings, which happens to be valueless and which Hilly hates. Yule has twin sons and is short the $75 she needs to send both boys, instead of just one, to college. When Hilly refused to loan her the money, Yule stole the ring. Hilly finds out and uses her influence to have Yule fined $500 and sentenced to four years in the state penitentiary. Anger at Hilly over her treatment of Yule May, plus a little persuasion from Minny, convinces eleven more maids to tell their stories for Skeeter's book.

Skeeter and her family have dinner at Stuart's parents' home. At dinner, the topic keeps coming around to Stuart's ex, Patricia Van Devender, who cheated on Stuart with a white civil rights activist. At the end of the evening, Stuart breaks up with Skeeter.

Hilly steals the list of Jim Crow laws out of Skeeter's bag and says she won't give them back until Skeeter, editor of the Junior League newspaper, prints a notice about Hilly's bathroom project in the newsletter. (Outdoor bathrooms for black employees in white households, remember?) Skeeter does print the notice. She also, accidentally-on-purpose, prints a notice telling people to drop off their old toilets on Hilly's lawn. Meanwhile, she hires some kids to deliver dozens of toilets to Hilly's place. Needless to say, Hilly is furious when she finds out. Skeeter is subsequently ostracized by the women who used to be her friends. Aibileen, Minny, and the other maids are afraid Hilly will find out that they are writing their stories and hurt them.

At the Jackson Junior League Annual Ball and Benefit, Celia Foote gets very drunk and tries to get Hilly to accept her into the high-society ladies' circle. She ends up tearing Hilly's dress and vomiting on the floor – not good progress there. In the days that follow, Celia is depressed and is on the verge of leaving Johnny because she thinks she isn't good enough for him. Minny convinces her to stay.

We learn that during her last days of caring for Hilly's mother, Miss Walter, Minny baked a chocolate pie laced with her own poo, and that Hilly ate two slices of the pie. This is why Hilly is trying so hard to ruin Minny around town. Minny convinces Skeeter and Aibileen that their best protection against Hilly, if their book comes out, is to include the pie story in Minny's section. Even if Hilly recognizes the town as Jackson, she won't tell because it would mean admitting to eating poo. Brilliant.

In December, Skeeter learns that Constantine, the maid who disappeared mysteriously from Skeeter's life, is dead. After Constantine's daughter, Lulabelle, and Skeeter's mother, Charlotte, got into a confrontation, Constantine was fired. She moved to Chicago with Lulabelle and died three months later. Skeeter gets part of the story from Aibileen and part from her mother. Also in December, Skeeter and Stuart get back together. At the end of December, Skeeter mails the book manuscript, which contains the maid's stories and is called Help, to Elaine Stein in New York City.

In January, Stuart proposes to Skeeter. She says yes, but when she tells him about Help he takes back his proposal. Also in January, Skeeter, Aibileen, Minny, and the other maids learn that Help is going to be published. They wait with bated breath.

When the book comes out, Hilly immediately suspects the book is set in Jackson and begins campaigning against the maids who she suspects are involved. But when she gets to the last chapter, Minny's chapter, and reads the pie story, she does an abrupt turnaround and tells everybody she can that the book isn't about Jackson. Still, Hilly confronts Skeeter about her involvement in the book and vows revenge on Aibileen and Minny.

Skeeter is offered a job in New York City and Minny and Aibileen convince her she must take it. Before she goes, Skeeter arranges for Aibileen to take Skeeter's old job writing the Miss Myra column.

Meanwhile, Celia finally tells Johnny about the miscarriages and about Minny. Johnny and Celia tell Minny she has a job with them for life. However, Hilly arranges for Minny's abusive husband, Leroy, to be fired and to be told that it's Minny's fault. Leroy then tries to kill Minny. She takes their five children, leaving Leroy and moving out of town, but still not far from her job with Celia.

Hilly still isn't satisfied, though, and proves to Elizabeth that Aibileen is the author of a chapter of Help. Hilly tries to frame Aibileen for stealing silver, but Elizabeth doesn't go along with her plan. She does fire Aibileen, though. After a tearful good-bye to Mae Mobley, Aibileen discovers she's about to start a new life, one in which she plans to spend writing about her life and the people she knows.

  • Chapter 1

    • The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi. This first chapter begins in August 1962, and is narrated by 53-year-old Aibileen, a black maid who takes care of "white babies" and does the "cooking and cleaning" for a living (1.1).
    • She's "raised seventeen kids in [her] lifetime" (1.1). Now she takes care of two-year-old Mae Mobley Leefolt.
    • Mae Mobley's mother, 23-year-old Elizabeth Leefolt, doesn't like her daughter (excuse me?) and resents Mae Mobley's love for Aibileen.
    • Mae Mobley is Aibileen's "special baby" (1.6).
    • Aibileen has a quick flashback of her son, Treelore.
    • Treelore dies when he's 24, while working at the Scanlon-Taylor mill late at night, in the rain.
    • He slips off the loading dock into the driveway and gets run over by a tractor.
    • Aibileen stays in bed for months. She comes to work for the Leefolts after Mae Mobley is born. At first, she works as usual. Soon, though, she begins resenting her work situation.
    • OK, back to the present.
    • Today, the ladies are playing bridge at the Leefolts'. Elizabeth uses a tablecloth to cover the "L-shaped crack" in her table (1.15) – yeah, we've tried that technique as well.
    • Skeeter Phelan and Hilly Holbrook show up for the bridge game; they are about the same age as Elizabeth. Miss Walter, Hilly's mother, is also at the game.
    • While serving food and drinks, Aibileen hears Hilly hinting that Miss Walter's maid, Minny, Aibileen's best friend, is stealing from Miss Walter.
    • Soon, the topic turns to bathrooms. (Doesn't it always?)
    • Hilly thinks black people "carry different […] diseases" (1.62) that white people can catch.
    • She wants a law requiring white people to build outside bathrooms that their black employees must use.
    • Skeeter says, "Maybe we ought to just build you a bathroom outside, Hilly" (1.69). Five points, Skeeter!
    • The best Hilly can do is threaten to fire Skeeter from her post as editor of the Junior League newsletter.
    • After Hilly and Miss Walters leave, Skeeter tries to talk to Aibileen in the kitchen. Elizabeth doesn't like Aibileen talking to her friends, though, and Aibileen is nervous.
    • Skeeter brings up the bathroom conversation and asks Aibileen, "Do you ever wish you could…change things?" (1.88).
  • Chapter 2

    • On the bus home, Aibileen warns Minny that Hilly might accuse her of stealing.
    • Minny calls Aibileen at home soon after. Hilly's sending Miss Walters (Aibileen calls her Miss Walter, but Minny calls her Miss Walters) to a nursing home and, sure enough, Minny's out of a job.
    • Aibileen promises to look out for a new job for her.
    • Later, Minny calls Aibileen at the Leefolts'. Hilly's been telling people Minny's a thief. That's why Minny can't find a job. Aibileen says she knows Minny doesn't steal.
    • Minny says she did "worse" (2.117) than stealing, though. She won't say what exactly…something about Hilly and a pie.
    • That night, Aibileen writes her prayers. She's written them since she left school in seventh grade, to help support her family. Aibileen's prayers are much in demand. Minny recently tells her, "We all on a party line to God, but you, you setting right in his ear" (2.143).
    • It's been three days and Minny still hasn't found work.
    • Celia Foote calls and Aibileen answers the phone at the Leefolts'. Celia's been in town a year, and wants to ask Elizabeth to recommend a maid.
    • Aibileen remembers that the ladies shun Celia because she married Hilly's ex-boyfriend.
    • Aibileen pretends to ask Elizabeth, then tells Celia to call Minny at home. Minny is working at Miss Walter's one last time before she goes to the nursing home.
    • Before Aibileen can call and give Minny the heads up about Celia's call, Elizabeth comes in.
    • By the time Aibileen calls Minny at Miss Walter's, Celia has already gotten the number from Minny's husband Leroy, and called over there. Miss Walter talked to her.
    • Miss Walters knows about the pie. Minny's last hope for a job is gone.
    • That afternoon, Elizabeth tells Aibileen to use the new outside bathroom from now on.
  • Chapter 3

    • This chapter is narrated by 36-year-old Minny Jackson.
    • She's at Celia Rae Foote's for an interview, and is very nervous. She swears if she gets this job she'll "never backtalk again" (3.1).
    • Celia turns out to be a Marilyn Monroe look-alike, in her early twenties.
    • Celia gives Minny a tour of the humongous house.
    • Minny learns she's from Sugar Ditch. According to Minny, "Sugar Ditch is as low as you can go in Mississippi, maybe in the whole United States" (3.29). Celia's never hired a maid before.
    • Minny learns that Miss Walters told Celia that Minny's "cooking is the best in town" (3.32).
    • Minny can't believe it, since Miss Walters knows about the pie.
    • Minny asks Celia when she'll have kids and Celia gets nervous and says, "Oh we're gonna have some kids. […] kids is the only thing living for" (3.38).
    • When Celia shows Minny the silver, Minny's sure that Celia heard Hilly's lie and is playing with her.
    • For some reason, Celia thinks Minny doesn't want the job. Minny assures her she absolutely does.
    • Celia offers to pay Minny twice the amount that Miss Walters paid her.
    • The catch is that Celia wants to keep Minny a secret from her husband, Johnny. She wants Johnny to think she can take care of the house and cook by herself.
    • Reluctantly, Minny agrees to keep herself a secret from Johnny. Minny makes her promise to tell him by before Christmas.
  • Chapter 4

    • The first week Minny works for Celia, she cleans the massive house until it's spotless.
    • She wonders why Celia doesn't have any kids, and wonders what Celia does when she sneaks upstairs all secretive. She wonders why Celia is always lying down too. She wonders why Celia hates the mimosa bush in the yard; Minny's own yard is bare.
    • But Minny doesn't try too hard to figure out Celia, as much as it started to sound like that. Her mother taught her long ago not to worry about white people's business.
    • She's trying to teach Celia to cook, but Celia's hopeless at it.
    • Minny wants Celia to go hang out with some ladies, get out of her hair, but Celia says none of the ladies will return her calls.
    • Minny is in Celia's kitchen thinking about her family back home.
    • Last night, her five-year-old daughter Kindra, the youngest of five, told Minny she hates her.
    • She's afraid her daughter has inherited her smart mouth.
    • She thinks about her son Benny's asthma, and her husband Leroy's drinking, and the fact that her father was also a drunk. She imagines eating the fried okra and peach cobbler at home tonight.
    • Suddenly, Minny realizes Mr. Johnny has come home and he's almost in the kitchen!
    • Minny yells to Celia, and then hides in the bathroom, crouched up on the toilet seat. She thinks, "Look at me. Look at what it's come to for Minny Jackson to make a damn living" (4.57).
  • Chapter 5

    • Chapter 5 is narrated by 23-year-old Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan. After the bridge game, she drives home in her mother's Cadillac to Longleaf, her family's cotton plantation.
    • She's been best friends with Hilly and Elizabeth since elementary school. Hilly and Skeeter were even roommates at Ole Miss (a.k.a. the University of Mississippi). Hilly stopped going to college to get married, though, like most of Skeeter's friends, while Skeeter stayed on to get her degree.
    • When Skeeter gets home, her mother Mrs. Charlotte Boudreaux Cantrelle Phelan (say that five times fast), bugs her about getting a job where she'll be "in a man-meeting situation" (5.29) and find a husband.
    • Skeeter is really tall and has "kinky" blond hair (5.26). Charlotte thinks Skeeter's trust fund makes up for her lack of looks. She won't let her daughter touch the fund to rent an apartment in town.
    • Before she left school, Skeeter, who wants to be a writer, applied for an editor's job at a publishing company in New York, City. She still hasn't heard back.
    • Thinking about Hilly's outside-bathroom project makes her think of Constantine, who used to be the Phelans' maid. Constantine raised Skeeter, and Skeeter misses her intensely.
    • She remembers visiting Constantine's house. Flashback time!
    • Constantine has only one picture in her house, of a little white girl. Skeeter remembers feeling jealous that Constantine doesn't have a picture of her.
    • Around the time Skeeter's older brother Carlton goes to college, Constantine tells Skeeter that her father was white. Skeeter is surprised and very curious.
    • When Skeeter then goes away to school, she and Constantine exchange letters several times a month.
    • In April of Skeeter's last year of college, she gets a letter from Constantine saying, "I have a surprise for you, Skeeter. […] You will see for yourself when you get home." (5.135)
    • And then the letters stop. When Skeeter arrives home, her mother tells her that Constantine left to go live with family in Chicago. Skeeter can't get anybody to tell her any details or give her Constantine's new address.
  • Chapter 6

    • It's September now and still hot. Skeeter checks the mail and finds a letter from Elaine Stein at the publishing company Skeeter applied to. The letter says that editors need experience. Fair enough.
    • Miss Stein admires Skeeter's ambition and suggests Skeeter take any job she can get at her local newspaper and offers to look over Skeeter's ideas.
    • Skeeter makes a list of some, and mails it.
    • A few days later, Skeeter, who double majored in journalism and English, goes to the Jackson Journal for a job interview. She's offered a job writing the Miss Myrna column.
    • It's a column that answers questions about cleaning. The real Miss Myrna has had some kind of breakdown. Skeeter just has to copy her style.
    • Skeeter is excited, but has no cleaning know-how. Hmm, so she has to copy her style and come up with answers out of thin air…
    • She convinces a very reluctant Elizabeth to consult with Aibileen.
    • During Aibileen and Skeeter's first meeting, Skeeter asks Aibileen if she happens to know anything about Constantine. Aibileen reveals that Constantine was fired, but won't say more.
    • At home, a very upset Skeeter asks her mother Charlotte if she fired Constantine, who worked for them for 29 years. Charlotte admits that she did, but still won't explain why.
    • When Aibileen is helping Skeeter with the Miss Myrna Column, she tells Skeeter about her son Treelore's death. She tells her Treelore was writing a book about his life in Mississippi.
    • Skeeter also learns that Constantine had a daughter who was born with very pale skin. The father is a black man; the daughter gets her skin tone from Constantine's white father.
    • But it was impossible for a black woman to raise a white-looking child in Jackson. Constantine had to send her daughter away. Her big goal was to get her daughter back.
    • Skeeter has lots more questions, but Aibileen won't answer them.
    • That night, Skeeter gets a letter from Elaine Stein saying that none of Skeeter's ideas are all that exciting. Unless she comes up with something "original" (6.227), Skeeter shouldn't write to her again.
    • Skeeter is very upset, but then she gets a good idea, one that won't leave her alone.
  • Chapter 7

    • Chapter 7 is narrated by Aibileen. It's late October now, and the heat lets up a little.
    • Aibileen is worried about Mae Mobley's self-esteem; Elizabeth is constantly telling Mae Mobley she's bad, and the little girl starting to believe it. So Aibileen tells her she's good, every day.
    • It's time for Mae Mobley to get potty-trained. Elizabeth won't demonstrate, and Aibileen isn't allowed to, so Mae Mobley isn't exactly picking up the skill.
    • Aibileen decides to demonstrate in her outside bathroom. Mae Mobley quickly follows her example. When Aibileen tries to show Elizabeth Mae Mobley's progress, Mae Mobley runs out to Aibileen's bathroom and uses it.
    • Elizabeth freaks out, hitting Mae Mobley and telling her she'll "catch diseases" (7.75) from it.
    • After, Aibileen apologizes to Mae Mobley and tries to comfort her.
    • Aibileen and Skeeter's conversations continue over the next weeks. One day, Skeeter brings up the book Treelore was writing, but before she can continue, Elizabeth walks in.
    • November 8th is the third anniversary of Treelore's death, and Aibileen is feeling pretty low.
    • While shopping at the Piggly Wiggly for the Leefolts' Thanksgiving dinner, Aibileen learns that Treelore's friend Robert Brown was beaten and blinded by white men after he uses the white bathroom at a local lawn and garden store.
    • When Aibileen gets home that night, Skeeter visits her and tells her the good idea: she wants to interview local maids about their experiences working for white families and to compile their stories into a book. Aibileen tells Skeeter this is way too dangerous and that none of the maids will agree to it.
  • Chapter 8

    • Skeeter narrates this chapter. Two weeks ago, she writes a letter to Elaine Stein once again, outlining her idea to interview local maids about their experiences working for white families.
    • She lies and writes that one woman has already agreed to the interviews.
    • A week ago Elaine Stein calls and says she's interested in the idea, but isn't making any promises.
    • At Elizabeth's, Skeeter asks Aibileen again to consent to an interview, or at least to ask one of her friends to do it, but Aibileen still refuses. Skeeter goes to Elizabeth's twice after that to try to talk to Aibileen.
    • One day, Hilly is over at Elizabeth's too. Skeeter watches her force Aibileen to thank her for having the outside bathroom built for her.
    • Later, Skeeter's mother straightens and curls Skeeter's hair with the "Magic Soft and Silky Shinalator" (8.63). When she's done, Skeeter's hair actually does look beautiful.
    • Since she's agreed to a blind date, set up by Hilly, with a Senator's son, she's grateful for Shinalator.
  • Chapter 9

    • It's Saturday and Skeeter is getting ready for her blind date with Stuart Whitworth. She's trying not to get her hopes up; she knows he won't be interested in her.
    • She lies and tells her mother she's spending the night at Hilly's, babysitting her kids.
    • Her mom won't let her take the Cadillac, so she has to take her dad's work truck, which has a trailer with a tractor on top, attached to it.
    • She makes it to Hilly's late, looking a mess. She sees Stuart for a second (he's cute) before Hilly whisks her away to redo her hair and make-up.
    • Hilly introduces Skeeter and Stuart, then Hilly's husband William drives them to the Robert E. Lee Hotel for dinner. Stuart is already drunk, and orders another drink at the table.
    • He basically insults Skeeter every time he speaks to her. Needless to say, it's a disaster. William and Hilly try to get Skeeter to drive Stuart home, but she's too upset to spend another minute with the guy.
    • He realizes he's being a jerk and tries to explain to Skeeter that he wasn't ready for a date, but she doesn't want to hear any more from him.
    • On Monday, Aibileen calls Skeeter and agrees to be interviewed. She might even be able to find other women willing to talk about their experiences.
    • They plan to meet at Aibileen's house, since nowhere else is remotely safe for this kind of thing.
    • Aibileen tells Skeeter that she's changed her mind because of Hilly.
  • Chapter 10

    • Minny narrates this chapter. It begins on December 1st. Last month when Minny thought it was Johnny coming home, it was actually just the man reading the meter.
    • Tired of standing on the toilet in anxiety, Minny is forcing Celia to tell Johnny about her by December 24th. She's pretty sure Johnny will fire her. Meanwhile, Celia is trying to learn to cook on her own, but is still hopeless.
    • Celia's still trying to make some friends, but all the ladies snub her, thanks to Hilly, Johnny's ex.
    • At church on Wednesday night, Aibileen tells her about Skeeter's book project. Minny "can't believe Aibileen wants to tell Skeeter the truth" (10.76). But the word "truth" feels like something Minny needs really badly. Still, she tells Aibileen she won't talk to Skeeter.
    • When Minny gets to work about a week later, Celia's still in bed and she looks upset.
    • She orders Minny to leave for the day.
    • About week later, Celia is still under the weather. In another few days, Celia will tell Johnny about Minny and Minny will be able to relax.
    • On Thursday morning, Celia isn't home. While Minny cleans, she thinks of everything that needs to be done before Christmas. When she's cleaning the bedroom, Johnny comes in, holding an axe.
    • Minny is terrified, but Johnny assures her he's not going to hurt her (he just happens to have an axe in hand, you know).
    • He knew Celia hired somebody to help around the house since the food improved.
    • Johnny doesn't care if Celia can cook; he just wants her to be happy. He's worried she's not happy and asks Minny if Celia's seeing another guy. Minny assures him she's not, but has no idea what's the matter with Celia.
    • Johnny tells Minny to let Celia keep pretending she doesn't have help as long as she wants to.
  • Chapter 11

    • 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).
  • Chapter 12

    • Skeeter and Aibileen work together every other night for the next two weeks. Her mother is suspicious that she leaves this frequently, especially at night. Skeeter claims she's doing work at a church where the Phelans don't know anybody.
    • During their fifth meeting, Aibileen reads Skeeter her writing about Treelore's death.
    • Aibileen also asks Skeeter if she'll check some books out of the white library for her. The black library hardly has any books. Of course, Skeeter agrees.
    • Skeeter and Aibileen work on Aibileen's story for several days, then Skeeter sends it to Elaine Stein in New York.
    • Ten days later, Skeeter is at Elizabeth's for the bridge game. Elizabeth announces she's pregnant again, and Hilly talks about her husband's campaign for state Senate.
    • Hilly tells Aibileen she has a bag of used clothes for her. For Skeeter, she has an envelope with information she wants included in the Junior League newsletter, information about her Home Help Sanitation Initiative.
    • At home that night, Skeeter works on the newsletter, but can't bring herself to put in Hilly's initiative.
    • Soon after, Skeeter hears from Elaine Stein. She likes Aibileen's story and wants Skeeter to do about twelve more. She wants it finished by January.
    • That night, Skeeter tells Aibileen about Elaine's letter. She begs Aibileen to try to find more maids willing to talk. A few days later, Aibileen calls and says Minny's agreed to do an interview too.
    • At Aibileen's, Minny tries hard to make Skeeter understand how dangerous this is – for Skeeter and for all the women she interviewing. Minny tells a little of her story, but then has to leave because she's too nervous.
  • Chapter 13

    • Minny works with Aibileen and Skeeter for the next two weeks, telling her story while Skeeter tries to write it all down.
    • One night when Skeeter's at home typing, Charlotte actually comes up the stairs to Skeeter's room. She's all excited because none other than Stuart Whitworth is here to see Skeeter.
    • It's been three months since their first date and Skeeter is just now getting over it. He apologizes for his drunken disorderliness and rudeness. He wasn't ready for a date. He wasn't over his break-up with another girl.
    • He asks Skeeter to dinner. She says no, but then changes her mind.
    • At dinner, when Stuart asks her what she wants out of life, she says, "I want to be a writer."
    • Stuart tells her, "I've been thinking about you. You're smart, you're pretty, […] you're tall" (13.71). After dinner, Stuart kisses her, right there in the restaurant.
    • A few weeks later, Skeeter is at the library and she finds a little booklet titled, "Compilation of Jim Crow Laws of the South." Skeeter has never seen these laws in print before and is "mesmerized by how many laws exist to separate us" (13.89).
    • She realizes these laws are just like Hilly's outside-bathroom project. She steals the booklet, since she can't check it out without the librarian gossiping about it.
    • Next, she goes to the Junior League meeting. The ladies have heard about Stuart and seem truly excited for her. Hilly suggests they double date. Skeeter would rather be alone with Stuart.
    • Her mother, Charlotte, has an appointment, so Skeeter has to rush off before the meeting ends.
    • At home, Skeeter realizes she left her satchel behind. It has all the work she's been doing with Aibileen and Minny. She calls Hilly and finds out Hilly has it at home with her.
    • She knows Hilly loves to snoop, so she's very worried and prays the whole drive to town. After she drops Charlotte at the doctor office, she goes to Hilly's.
    • Skeeter can tell Hilly's angry. She's seen something, but Skeeter doesn't know what. Only the Jim Crow pamphlet is missing.
    • The book notes are in a pocket and don't seem tampered with. Hilly slams the door after Skeeter.
  • Chapter 14

    • Aibileen narrates this chapter.
    • Last week, Skeeter asked Minny if she and her husband Leroy talk about civil rights.
    • Aibileen reveals (to the readers) that Leroy beats Minny. Minny told Skeeter not to ask about Leroy, but Skeeter pushed the point.
    • Minny started to walk out, but Aibileen showed her Hilly's outside-bathroom plan. Minny recommits.
    • Aibileen, Elizabeth, and Hilly are in Elizabeth's yard watching the kids play in a plastic pool. For all of Hilly's faults, Aibileen is impressed with the loving relationship she has with her children.
    • Aibileen gets scared when she hears Hilly say, "if Skeeter thinks she's going to get away with this colored non—" (14.46), but Hilly's daughter Heather interrupts. She hears Hilly saying she read something in Skeeter's satchel.
    • Aibileen has observed that white women don't resort to physical violence when they want to hurt you. Instead, they arrange it so your car is repossessed, you get evicted from your house, your family and friends get fired, and on and on until you are ruined.
    • The next night, Skeeter calls Aibileen at home. She tells Aibileen about the satchel incident. They decide to continue the project anyway. If Hilly does know about anything more than the Jim Crow pamphlet, stopping won't change anything.
    • Aibileen works late. The bus stops at a roadblock. Someone has been shot and all the black people have to get off the bus. She walks to Minny's and learns that civil rights leader Medgar Evers has been shot and killed by the KKK. He lived five minutes from Minny's house by car.
    • His assassination turns Jackson into a city boiling with racial tension. Aibileen observes,
    • "For the second time in two months, Jackson Mississippi's in Life magazine. This time though, we make the cover" (14.177).
  • Chapter 15

    • The next day, Miss Fredericks comes to the Leefolts' house to make Elizabeth take her to lunch. She's mean to Mae Mobley. Aibileen comforts the girl with a story about how black girls and white girls have all the same parts, and are "the same, just a different color" (15.30).
    • Another day, Hilly invites Elizabeth to bring the kids and Aibileen to the country club. At the country club, Skeeter shows up and asks Hilly why she's been avoiding her, and what exactly she saw in Skeeter's satchel.
    • Hilly says she saw the pamphlet with the Jim Crow laws. She thinks Skeeter wants to change those laws. Skeeter starts to argue with Hilly, but when she sees the pleading look in Aibileen's eye, she backs off.
    • She says, "Oh Hilly, it's just a booklet. I found it at the library. I'm not trying to change any laws. I just took it home to read" (15.93).
    • Skeeter says she's worried about Hilly and thinks she's working too hard on William's senate campaign.
    • Hilly gives in to Skeeter. Skeeter and Aibileen make eye contact and Aibileen thinks, "Everybody around us is sunning and laughing […], not a soul guessing that the colored woman and the white woman […] is wondering the same thing: is we fools to feel some relief?" (15.101).
  • Chapter 16

    • A few days later, Aibileen goes to the Community Concerns Meeting at her church. Since Medgar Evers's death, there's a lot of anger at the meetings.
    • Aibileen looks around for maids who might be interested in helping her and Skeeter. Thirty-five maids have already refused. Aibileen feels like she's "selling something nobody want to buy, something big and stinky […]" (16.3).
    • Still, Aibileen is "proud a what [she] selling" (16.3). She thinks, "We telling stories that need to be told" (16.3). She's become quite the evangelist.
    • Minny is a really persuasive woman, though. Aibileen is sure Minny could convince the others. As things stand now, though, all the women think telling their stories is too dangerous, and that it won't change anything.
    • At the end of the meeting, Yule May, who works for Hilly, approaches Aibileen and starts asking about the project. Aibileen confirms that all the names are being changed, as well as the name of the town. Yule May is genuinely interested, and makes plans to call Aibileen privately soon.
  • Chapter 17

    • Minny narrates this chapter. She's been working with Celia for nine months now (since August 1962) and she doesn't know if Celia is lazy and crazy or has some physical problem.
    • Today, for example, Celia is in bed and won't get up. Minny is frustrated. She wants to work hard and get Celia on track. Celia still doesn't know that Johnny knows about Minny.
    • Plus, Celia keeps hounding the society ladies to come over and play bridge. Johnny's trying to arrange it with Hilly and Will. Minny lives in dread of that happening. Hilly will get her fired.
    • So far, none of those ladies will return Celia's calls.
    • In June it's 104 degrees. Minny's making caramel frosting.
    • When Celia learns Minny can't afford an AC, she says she wishes she could buy one. Minny is about to say she wasn't asking for money, but then notices her caramel has burned.
    • Minny and Aibileen talk about civil rights. Such things as being able to eat in the same places, and use the same bathrooms as white people don't matter that much to them. Minny thinks, "What I care about is, if in ten years, a white lady will call my girls dirty and accuse them of stealing the silver" (17.64).
    • Over dinner, Minny's husband and their kids talk about the racial tension in town. Leroy is very firm that none of the kids or Minny gets involved in anything or says anything against a white person outside of their home. It's too dangerous right now.
    • The next week, Minny finds out that Celia is drinking secretly. Minny's furious. Her father was a drunk she had to take care of and now her husband is a drunk.
    • She wants to confront Celia, but that would mean she cares about Celia, which would mean she'd be breaking one of her mother's most important rules.
    • In early July, Minny and Celia get in an argument and Celia fires her.
    • Minny goes over to Aibileen's and tells her what happened. Aibileen's says, "Tell you, that Celia must be the worst one you ever had to tend to" (17.169). Minny agrees.
    • Aibileen starts reminding her of the other women she's worked for, and pretty soon, Minny gets the point. The job at Celia's is actually pretty good. Who cares if the woman drinks a little?
    • Minny hopes Celia will give her back the job.
  • Chapter 18

    • It's Monday morning and Celia doesn't seem to recall firing Minny. She's also really ill.
    • When Minny's cleaning, she hears funny noises coming from the bathroom. When she goes in, she finds Celia bleeding into the toilet bowl.
    • Celia asks Minny to call Dr. Tate. Celia was pregnant and she miscarries her baby into the toilet. She asks Minny to take it away before Johnny sees it. Minny decides to wait and let the doctor handle it.
    • Celia reveals that she's been pregnant for five months. This is the second baby she's lost.
    • Minny asks her why she drinks so much – doesn't she know that makes it harder to carry a baby to term?
    • Celia says she doesn't drink. The bottles Minny saw are "catch tonic" – a supposed remedy for women who have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a baby to term.
    • She's afraid she'll lose Johnny if she doesn't give him a baby soon. She's actually lost three other babies, not one. She doesn't want Johnny to know about this.
    • Minny admits she met Johnny and that Johnny knows about her. She tries to make Celia understand that Johnny loves her. She's sure Johnny will be patient with her.
    • Celia says that Dr. Tate is mean to her, that he yells at her and isn't doing anything to help.
    • Dr. Tate arrives just after Celia passes out. Minny waits anxiously while Celia is examined. She sees a nurse come out with a tin box that must have the baby inside it. She's relieved they don't leave it for her to clean up.
    • The doctor comes out and tells Minny that Celia is sedated. He says, "You make sure she doesn't miss her appointment on Friday. I'm not driving out here just because she's too lazy to come in" (18.106).
    • It's only half an hour before Johnny comes home, so Minny gets busy cleaning the bathroom.
  • Chapter 19

    • Skeeter narrates Chapter 19. She's at home, burning up from the July heat. Her parents refuse to get air conditioning.
    • Skeeter goes out to the Cadillac and sits in the air conditioning with her dress up and her eyes closed.
    • Soon, she hears the passenger door open, and there's Stuart.
    • He invites her to go with him to Biloxi where they'd share a hotel room. She wants to, but she says she can't. Stuart kisses her and puts his hand on her thigh to try to convince her.
    • She says she'd have to lie to her mother. Stuart doesn't want this; he doesn't like lies.
    • He invites her and her parents to come over for dinner and meet his parents in three weeks.
    • Three nights later, Stuart comes by and Skeeter learns that Stuart's mother was very close with Stuart's ex, Patricia. Stuart won't tell Skeeter why they broke up.
    • Next morning, Pascagoula (the Phelans' maid, now that Constantine is gone) tells Skeeter that Hilly's maid, Yule May, has agreed to tell her story.
    • The next day, Pascagoula gives Skeeter a letter from Yule May.
    • The letter explains that Yule May and her husband have been saving money to send their twin boys to Tougaloo College, but only had enough to send one of them.
    • Yule May confesses she stole a ruby ring from Hilly to get the rest of the money. Now she's in the Mississippi State Penitentiary and the college savings are going toward the court fine.
    • Skeeter is disgusted. She knows the ring – it's a garnet, worth nothing. Hilly hates it, even.
    • When Skeeter gets to Aibileen's that night, the church folks are there praying for Yule May.
    • Skeeter learns that Hilly used her influence to make sure Yule May is sentenced to four years. Yule May was "arrested on Monday, sent to the pen on Tuesday. […] the whole trial took fifteen minutes" (19.161). The church has gathered the money to send both boys to college.
    • One by one, women come up to Skeeter and say they want to tell their stories. When Skeeter looks at Minny, she can see that Minny is the one who convinced them.
    • About thirteen women are on board now, and Skeeter goes to Aibileen's almost every night to get their stories. All the women donate the forty dollars Skeeter offers them to the fund to send Yule May's sons to college.
  • Chapter 20

    • 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.
  • Chapter 21

    • The Phelans finally get an AC. Since the breakup with Stuart, Skeeter feels "so hot, so goddamned singed and hurt, [she] think[s] she might catch on fire" (21.5).
    • She really needs the AC, but it keeps blowing out the power for the whole house.
    • Skeeter drowns her heartbreak in writing.
    • She pretends to her parents that she and Stuart are still together. Charlotte is really sick, and all that cheers her up is Stuart and Skeeter as a couple.
    • Skeeter and Aibileen have completed Aibileen's chapter, Minny's chapter, and four others. There are still five to go. Skeeter worries about what will happen to the women if anybody finds out what they're doing. She thinks, "We must keep this "a perfect secret" (21.30).
    • At the Junior League meeting, Hilly and Skeeter fight about Hilly's bathroom initiative.
    • Skeeter refuses to print it, and Hilly threatens to have her fired as editor. Skeeter demands that Hilly give back the pamphlet of Jim Crow laws.
    • Hilly says it's her "job" to protect the League from "racial integrationist" (27.55) members, or else nobody will donate money to "The Poor Starving Children of Africa" (21.57).
    • Skeeter wishes Hilly could "catch the irony of this, that she'll send money to people overseas, but not across town" (21.58). She calls Hilly a "hypocrite" (21.58).
    • Hilly says, "You know, it's no wonder Stuart Whitworth dropped you" (21.60).
    • The fight ends with Hilly saying she'll give Skeeter back the Jim Crow pamphlet when Skeeter prints the bathroom initiative.
    • At home, Skeeter types up the League newsletter and includes Hilly's initiative. She worries about what Constantine would think of her for giving in.
  • Chapter 22

    • This chapter is narrated by Aibileen and begins on Mae Mobley's third birthday. Mae Mobley asks Aibileen, "Do you have some babies?" (22.22).
    • Aibileen tells Mae Mobley she has seventeen babies, and explains that most of them are grown up now.
    • Mae Mobley says, "I'm your real baby. Those other ones you said are pretend" (22.43).
    • Aibileen's used to babies who are confused about her. John Dudley used to even call her "Mama" (22.44).
    • He was confused in other ways; he liked wearing skirts and perfume.
    • Aibileen told Skeeter her worst experience as a maid was dealing with a stillborn baby, but it was actually the six years when, on a daily basis, John Dudley's father "would take him to the garage and whip him with a rubber hose-pipe trying to beat the girl out" of him (22.45).
    • Aibileen wishes she'd told John good things about him the way she does now with Mae Mobley.
    • The next day, Aibileen sees Skeeter at Elizabeth's. Twice, Skeeter tells Aibileen she's going to be out of town for three days. Aibileen wonders why she's repeating herself.
    • On Monday morning when Aibileen's at work, Hilly calls in a panic and Elizabeth hurries off to her house. Aibileen and Mae Mobley walk over to Hilly's to see what's going on.
    • There are dozens of toilets in Hilly's front yard. A photographer is taking pictures. Mae Mobley is excited by all the toilets and goes and uses one before Aibileen can stop her. Aibileen gets her and hurries back to Elizabeth's. Mae Mobley wants to go back there and play.
    • Elizabeth comes home soon and vents the story to Aibileen. Apparently, underneath the mention of the bathroom initiative in the League newspaper, Skeeter printed a paragraph about Hilly's coat drive.
    • But, she, um, accidentally, told people to leave old toilets on Hilly's lawn, instead of old coats.
    • Later that week, Mr. Leefolt asks Aibileen about her helping Skeeter with the Miss Myrna column. He tells Aibileen she'll have real problems if she talks to Skeeter ever, about anything.
    • That night, Aibileen and Minny are at Aibileen's and Skeeter comes over.
    • Aibileen doesn't think Skeeter understands she's in danger from Hilly now. She tells her to be careful.
  • Chapter 23

    • Aibileen's been making up "secret stories" (23.8) to tell Mae Mobley. Mae Mobley loves them.
    • Since Mae Mobley's favorite show is My Favorite Martian, Aibileen tells her a story about "a wise Martian" (23.17) named Martian Luther King. He's nice but some people don't like him, "Cause [he's] green" (23.25).
    • Now it's late October, and the ladies, minus Skeeter, meet at Elizabeth's for bridge.
    • Celia Foote shows up, wanting to help with the Benefit at the Robert E. Lee Hotel on November 15th. Hilly says they don't need help, but she sells Celia tickets so she and Johnny can go.
    • Celia lets slip that her maid is Minny Jackson and that (she thinks) Elizabeth secretly recommended her.
    • After Celia leaves, Aibileen hears the ladies plotting to find out how Minny got that job, even though "that Nigra [is] a thief" (23.67).
  • Chapter 24

    • Minny narrates this chapter. Aibileen calls and tells her that all the ladies now know she's working for Celia. When Celia gets home, she won't tell Minny anything.
    • She only wants to "keep up her charade" (24.9) and have Minny out before Johnny comes home.
    • Aibileen calls Minny the next morning to report that Hilly and Elizabeth think Minny made up Elizabeth's recommendation. So, Aibileen (who told the lie) isn't implicated, at least. Minny is relieved.
    • Later, Hilly calls. Minny pretends to be someone else, and claims Minny quit and Celia is out of town. The lies continue.
    • Three days later, when Minny goes to work, Celia asks her about the big cut on her forehead. Minny doesn't want to talk about the beating Leroy gave her last night.
    • Celia makes Minny some coffee and tries to talk to her. Suddenly, Celia points out a naked white man standing in the yard, holding his penis, and staring at them threateningly.
    • Celia calls the police while Minny tries to lock up. The man throws a rock through the window.
    • Minny gets Johnny's hunting knife and a broom and goes outside, telling Celia to lock the door behind her and stay inside. Minny tries to attack the man, but he eludes her.
    • Then, he punches her in the head in the same spot Leroy did. Suddenly, Celia appears, holding a fireplace poker. The suddenly feisty woman beats the man with it until he's still, but not dead.
    • The Jackson Junior League Annual Ball and Benefit is just a week away and Celia is all excited. She asks Minny why the ladies treat her badly. Minny says it's because a) Hilly used to date Johnny, and b) because they think she's "white trash" (24.213). Now that's being honest.
    • Celia says she'll explain everything to Hilly at the benefit.
    • The night of the benefit, Celia puts on a low-cut, hot pink, sequined dress. Minny thinks, "Everything about her oozes sex, sex, and more more sex" (24.227). Celia's excited to talk to Hilly and explain. Minny, who will be cooking there, wishes Celia wouldn't go to the benefit.
  • Chapter 25

    The Benefit

    • This chapter (the only one with a title, you'll notice) is told from a third-person, omniscient point-of-view and is set at the Jackson Junior League Annual Ball and Benefit. Money raised here goes to The Poor Starving Children of Africa.
    • All ladies are dressed conservatively, with no skin showing.
    • When Johnny and Celia, in her sexy gown, show up, everybody stops to look at them. The men are appreciative and the ladies are stiff and angry. Celia tries making friends, but is shunned.
    • She's been drinking and just gets drunker. Skeeter arrives and is also shunned.
    • Aibileen and Minny catch glimpses of the scene while they work.
    • After the main course, Hilly speaks. She thanks everybody for their help. She gives a special thanks to "the anonymous contributor of, ahem, supplies for the Home Help Sanitation Initiative" (25.58). Everybody turns to stare at Skeeter.
    • During the baked goods auction, Celia tries to talk to Hilly, but Hilly hides. When Celia goes to the bathroom, Hilly tries flirting with Johnny by insulting Celia. Double ouch.
    • Soon, the results of the auction are announced. Somehow, Hilly wins "Minny Jackson's world famous chocolate custard pie" (25.96).
    • Celia, who is really drunk now, congratulates her. Hilly accuses Celia of signing her up for the pie and wants to know who Celia has told about Minny and the pie.
    • Celia has no idea what Hilly's talking about.
    • She just wants to explain that she and Johnny started dating after Hilly and Johnny broke up. She reaches for Hilly and accidentally tears Hilly's dress.
    • Hilly won't stop talking about the pie. Celia says she knows nothing about it.
    • When Hilly calls her a liar, Celia starts to cry…then vomits on the carpet.
    • Later, when almost everybody is gone, Hilly learns that her mother, Miss Walters, is the one who signed her up for the pie. She says, "I may not remember my name or what country I live in, but you and that pie is something I will never forget" (25.144).
  • Chapter 26

    • The next day, Johnny calls Minny at home. Celia's pretty upset after the benefit and needs help.
    • Minny didn't see Celia vomit, but her daughter Sugar saw, and fills her in.
    • On Monday, Celia's still in bed. When Minny gets her out of bed, she sees a letter Hilly wrote to Celia. She wants Celia to make a $200 donation to the League, instead of paying for the dress she ripped. Plus, Celia is now banned from League functions.
    • On Wednesday, Celia's still in bed. Johnny calls and Celia has Minny tell him she's asleep.
    • Finally, Celia talks to Minny. She's thinking of leaving Johnny because she doesn't feel good enough for him.
    • She tells Minny about Hilly accusing her of playing a trick on her with the pie.
    • Minny confesses to Celia that after Hilly spread rumors she was a thief, she told Hilly to "eat [her] shit" (26.82). Then, she went home and made a chocolate pie and took it to her.
    • Hilly thought it was "a peace offering" (26.86) and gobbled up two slices. Miss Walters asked for a piece, but Minny said the pie was just for Hilly because it had a special ingredient.
    • Miss Walters laughed like crazy and told Hilly, "I wouldn't go tattling on Minny either, or you'll be known as the lady who ate two slices of Minny's shit" (26.91).
    • And that's why Hilly thinks Celia signed her up for the pie as a prank. If Celia leaves Johnny, then Hilly wins – Celia will be gone and Minny will be jobless.
    • Celia thanks Minny for sharing the story. She even seems to feel better.
    • The next day, Celia is up and at it again. She works in the garden all day and then, in the rain, starts chopping down the mimosa tree she hates.
    • While Minny waits for her to be done, she sees a check written out to the League. At the bottom of the check, Celia has written "For Two-Slice Hilly" (26.115).
  • Chapter 27

    • On December 2nd, Skeeter (who narrates this chapter) calls Elaine Stein in New York and learns that if the manuscript doesn't get to New York by December 21st, it won't be read.
    • That night, Skeeter goes to Aibileen's and tells her they have a new deadline, and that Miss Stein says they have to add a chapter about Constantine, the woman who raised Skeeter.
    • On Thursday night, Skeeter goes to the League meeting. Nobody will talk to her, and she gets fired as editor of the newsletter, though we suppose this was no surprise. Hilly becomes the new editor.
    • Skeeter drives around after the meeting, wishing she could get out of this town.
    • Stuart is at her house when she gets back. Even better.
    • He wants Skeeter back. She's afraid of getting hurt.
    • That night Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter decide to call the book Help.
    • On Tuesday, Aibileen tells Skeeter the story of Constantine. Constantine has a daughter, Lulabelle, who was born looking white. Constantine felt compelled to send her to an orphanage when she was four. She tried to get her daughter back a few years later, but Lula was already adopted.
    • A couple of years ago, when Lula was 25, she came to stay with Constantine. Skeeter was away at school.
    • Aibileen gives Skeeter the rest of the story in writing, for Skeeter to read at home.
    • After Skeeter reads it, she writes about Constantine for hours. She calls Aibileen and says she can't publish the story of what happened between Constantine and Charlotte. Aibileen agrees with her.
    • The next night, Skeeter asks Charlotte to tell her what happened between her and Lula.
    • Charlotte tells Skeeter that Lula came to a DAR meeting pretending to be a white woman. When Charlotte realized what she was up to, she told her to leave. Lula spit in her face.
    • Constantine and Lula went back to Chicago together, and Constantine died three weeks later.
    • Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter decide on one final addition to the book. They put in the story of Hilly's chocolate pie. This way, Hilly will have to keep quiet (rather than blowing up others' lives, as usual) when she realizes the book is about Jackson. Otherwise, everybody will know what she ate.
    • Six days before the last editor's meeting, Skeeter mails the manuscript to Miss Stein.
  • Chapter 28

    • That night, Skeeter learns that Charlotte has been so sick because she has stomach cancer and only months to live.
    • Early in January, Skeeter calls Elaine Stein's office and learns the manuscript was received. They will let Skeeter know what Miss Stein decides.
    • Stuart and Skeeter have started dating again. He's says he knows the rumors that Skeeter is "some kind of crazy liberal" (28.101) aren't true.
    • On Saturday night, Stuart asks Skeeter to marry him. She says yes, but needs to tell him a secret. He promises he won't tell.
    • She tells him as much as she can about the book without implicating any of the women in it.
    • Stuart says, "This is what you've been writing about for the past twelve months? Not… Jesus Christ?" (28.139). He doesn't understand why this is important to Skeeter. He doesn't see any problems with the current system in Mississippi.
    • He takes back his proposal, but promises to keep her secret. She believes him.
    • At home, she tells Charlotte about the proposal. She already knows, since Stuart asked for permission last week. Charlotte says she has something to tell her husband and Skeeter.
    • She says, "I have decided not to die. […] I have made my decision and that's that" (28.183-185). Well, then.
    • On Friday, January 18, 1964, Skeeter tells Aibileen and Minny that she heard from Miss Stein, and Harper and Row is going to publish several thousand copies of the book.
    • They'll each only make about sixty bucks. Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter can't stop laughing. Skeeter tells them Miss Stein said Aibileen's chapter needs the least editing. She tells Minny that Miss Stein says she is "every Southern white woman's nightmare. I love her" (28.213). Minny is obviously pleased. The book will come out in August, and they have lots of editing to do before then.
    • Then, they can finally know what will happen when the people of Jackson read the book.
  • Chapter 29

    • Aibileen narrates this chapter. Mae Mobley is four years old now, and going to school.
    • One afternoon, Mae Mobley tells Aibileen that her teacher, Miss Taylor, says that "colored [people] can't go to [Mae Mobley's] school cause they're not smart enough" (29.40).
    • Aibileen tells Mae Mobley that Miss Taylor "ain't right all the time" (29.45). Mae Mobley hugs her and says, "You're righter than Miss Taylor" (29.46).
    • That same afternoon, Skeeter brings boxes of the now-published book, Help, to Aibileen and Minny's church. Aibileen takes a copy home and then brings one to Minny.
    • Aibileen tells Minny that the white library in Jackson has ordered three copies.  We'll see how that goes over.
    • On Thursday, Aibileen learns that the book will be discussed on a Jackson TV show in a week.
    • Aibileen goes to church on Friday. She's relieved to see that Minny's pregnancy is showing.
    • Leroy doesn't beat her when she's pregnant.
    • The congregation honors Aibileen and presents her with a copy of Help signed by some five hundred members of the community.
    • The Reverend tells Aibileen the church is going to do everything to help and protect her if there's any backlash. He says they think she is a very courageous person.
    • The Reverend surprises Aibileen by giving her a second copy of Help, also signed by the community. This copy is for Skeeter.
    • When the book is discussed on TV, the host says he's sure the book is about Jackson.
    • Aibileen is shaking with worry. Elizabeth is watching the show. When she hears it might be about Jackson, she runs out to get a copy.
  • Chapter 30

    • Like Aibileen, Minny (who narrates this chapter) sees Help discussed on TV. She wants to call the host and tell him the book is not about Jackson.
    • Later, Aibileen calls her and tells her Hilly has a copy of the book.
    • Minny holds her breath, waiting for Hilly to read the last chapter, Minny's chapter.
    • The next day, Johnny is at home when Minny shows up at Celia's house. Celia has told him about her miscarriages. Johnny tells Minny, "I would've lost her if it wasn't for you" (30.29). He begs Celia never to leave him
    • Next, Jonny tells Minny, "You'll always have a job here with us, Minny. For the rest of your life if you want." The three cry together in the dining room.
  • Chapter 31

    • Aibileen (who narrates this chapter) looks at Elizabeth's bookmark every day to see where she is in Help. She's not getting very far very fast; she hasn't even gotten to Chapter 2, the chapter about her.
    • On Thursday, when Hilly comes over, Aibileen learns Hilly is on Chapter 7. Hilly is convinced that the TV host is right, that the book is about Jackson. She plans to identify the maids.
    • The next day, Aibileen sees that Elizabeth is on Chapter 6 now. Seems she read her chapter and didn't recognize herself.
    • That afternoon, Mae Mobley comes home from school in tears. She got in trouble at school because when Miss Taylor told them to draw what they liked most about themselves. Mae Mobley colored a picture of herself with a black face.
    • Miss Taylor is trying to undo all the good things Aibileen's been teaching Mae Mobley.
  • Chapter 32

    • Minny narrates this chapter. Aibileen comes over to her house and tells her Hilly is spreading the word around town that the book is about Jackson.
    • They are afraid Hilly will never get to her chapter, the chapter about the pie...
    • That night, when Minny is in bed with drunken Leroy, he says he knows she has a secret and threatens to find out what it is in whatever way he can.
    • Minny is strong woman, but somehow she is weak when it comes to Leroy.
    • She wonders why she stays with him, why she loves him even though he beats her and is a drunk. She wonders what she "could become" if Leroy would stop beating her.
    • The next night, she wakes up around midnight and she's sure Hilly's finally read her chapter.
  • Chapter 33

    • Skeeter, who narrates this chapter, wakes to the sound of her own screaming.
    • She really needs to get out of Jackson. If she doesn't get any of the out-of-town jobs she's applied for, she could be stuck here for good.
    • Her mother is feeling a lot better and isn't even upset that Skeeter and Stuart aren't getting married.
    • One day Skeeter is at the drugstore and Lou Anne, one of the ladies, calls her over.
    • She tells Skeeter that Hilly tried to get her to fire her maid Louvenia. But Lou Anne loves Louvenia and will never fire her. She admires Skeeter and the book.
    • She's figured out that the pie chapter is about Hilly. She tells Skeeter that Hilly is now going around town telling everybody the book is definitely not about Jackson.
    • That night, Hilly drives to Skeeter's and confronts her. She says she's suing Skeeter and is here to tell Charlotte what Skeeter has done. She claims to have some kind of proof.
    • Charlotte comes out, but Hilly loses her nerve. Before Hilly leaves, she tells Skeeter she knows the first chapter is about Elizabeth because the L-shaped crack in her dining room table is described.
    • Hilly says she has "big plans" for Aibileen and Minny.
    • Skeeter says, "Careful, Hilly. […] Don't give yourself away now" (33.91). Hilly says, "That was not me WHO ATE THAT PIE!" (33.93). Right.
    • That night, Skeeter calls Aibileen. Minny's over at Aibileen's house. Skeeter tells them about her confrontation with Hilly. They decide there's nothing to do but wait and see what Hilly does.
    • Skeeter tells them she's been offered a job as a copy editor in New York City at Harper's Magazine. She says she can't take it. She refuses leave Minny, Aibileen, and the other maids "in this mess" (33.115).
    • Minny and Aibileen convince Skeeter that she must take the job – they remind her that her life here in Jackson is not good. They can take care of themselves.
    • Skeeter is thrilled. She's taking the job, and heading for the Big Apple.
  • Chapter 34

    • Aibileen narrates the final chapter. At the usual bridge game, Aibileen hears Hilly trying to convince the ladies that the book isn't about Jackson.
    • Some days later, she hears Mae Mobley trying to teach her infant brother the games Aibileen taught her to explain the Civil Rights Movement.
    • Mister Raleigh Leefolt hears too and demands Mae Mobley tell him who taught her the games. Mae Mobley says it was her teacher, Miss Taylor.
    • Raleigh tells Elizabeth to have Mae Mobley moved to another class.
    • On Monday night, Skeeter visits Aibileen with good news. At least five thousand more copies of Help are being printed. This means more money. And, the Miss Myrna job with the local newspaper is now Aibileen's.
    • The following day, Skeeter is going to fly to Chicago to visit Constantine's grave. After that, she'll fly to New York.
    • Aibileen gives Skeeter her copy of Help signed by the black community.
    • Early the next morning, Aibileen is woken by the phone. It's Minny in a panic.
    • Hilly's husband arranged for Leroy to be fired from his job. Leroy was told that Minny is the reason for it.
    • He locked the kids out and locked Minny in the bathroom, threatening to burn down the house with Minny inside it. The kids ran away to the neighbor's.
    • Minny fled to the gas station, where she's now calling from, waiting for a friend to pick her up. Aibileen tells her there will be more money from the book now and encourages her to leave Leroy for good. For the first time, Minny says she will. Aibileen can tell she means it.
    • The next day at work, Hilly accuses Aibileen of stealing silver that Minny cleaned for her at Elizabeth's. If she doesn't give back the silver, Hilly is calling the police.
    • Aibileen tells Hilly that if she goes to jail, she'll spend all her time writing letters to the people of Jackson telling everybody that Hilly is the woman in the last chapter of Help.
    • Mae Mobley comes out crying, realizing that Aibileen is going away. She takes Mae Mobley into the kitchen and explains that she has to go. Mae Mobley tells her, "You is kind […]. You is good. You is important" (34.219). Aibileen thanks her and they cry together.
    • Elizabeth and Hilly come into the kitchen. Hilly has decided not to call the police – no surprise there.
    • Aibileen leaves to the sound of Mae Mobley crying. Aibileen cries as she walks, wondering what her life will be like now that she's no longer taking care of white babies. She's glad she has income from the Miss Myrna column and the book.
    • She thinks, "Maybe I ain't too old to start over" (34.231), laughing as she cries.