Study Guide

The Help Chapter 17

By Kathryn Stockett

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.