The Help

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The Help Chapter 15 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
One afternoon, Mae Mobley asks Aibileen to tell her a story before her nap. Tired of reading her the usual stories, Aibileen makes one up about a white girl and a black girl who notice for the first time that they have different skin colors. After the girls list all the physical features they have in a common, they conclude that they’re both just humans beings with different skin colors. Mae Mobley asks for the story to be repeated four times before she falls asleep.
Aibileen is worried that Mae Mobley will be turned into just another racist white woman, so she uses storytelling to fight against the many racist influences acting on the child. Specifically, she teaches Mae Mobley to recognize that white and black people are equally valuable and human—a lesson Skeeter is also finally learning in growing closer to the maids.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
A few days later, Miss Hilly invites Miss Leefolt and her child to the fancy country club. Miss Leefolt brings Aibileen so that Aibileen can watch Mae Mobley. Miss Leefolt doesn’t belong to the club because she can’t afford membership. Aibileen thinks that she’s probably been to the club as a maid more times than Leefolt has been as a guest.
Aibileen recognizes one of the ironies of social class—though Aibileen is not allowed to join the club because she is black, she still has been there more times than her white employer. Aside from a common racism against non-whites, white society is still divided by wealth and social class.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Social Class  Theme Icon
At the club, Miss Skeeter is playing tennis and comes over to Miss Leefolt and Miss Hilly. Skeeter tries to start a conversation, but Hilly is cold towards her, eventually blurting out that she saw the law book in her satchel. Hilly says she can’t have integrationist friends while her husband is running for office. Skeeter gets mad, saying that her husband is never going to get elected. But after Skeeter steals a glance at Aibileen, she realizes she must make up with Hilly or else Hilly will continue to investigate into Skeeter’s activities, which could jeopardize the book and Aibileen’s safety.
At first Skeeter acts selfishly, engaging Hilly in a fight without realizing that she’s endangering Aibileen’s safety.But when Skeeter looks at Aibileen, she is reminded of her own power and privilege, and she recognizes that Aibileen has much more to lose than Skeeter does. Swallowing her pride, Skeeter decides to mend things with Hilly in order to protect Aibileen, a sign that Skeeter is growing more empathetic and less self-centered.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Trying to mend things with Hilly, Skeeter flatters her intelligence, saying that if she were up to anything sinister, Hilly would have figured out everything and stopped her by now. As a kind of apology or excuse for accusing Skeeter of being an “integrationist,” Hilly sighs and says that she’s just been so stressed and tired because of the political campaign. Skeeter walks back to the tennis court. Among all the smiles and laughter at the pool, Aibileen and Skeeter look at each other and think the same thing: are they fools to think that Hilly is no longer suspicious?
Skeeter’s actions could be described as “helpful hypocrisy.” Skeeter pretends to be against integration while secretly writing a book against segregation. Hilly’s hypocrisy is unconsciousness and motivated by self-interest, while Skeeter knowingly and temporarily acts hypocritically so she can help Aibileen. But Skeeter isn’t being entirely hypocritical, of course, since she is also dating a segregationist with actual political power and makes no attempt to sway his views.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
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