The Help

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The Help Chapter 21 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
For the next two weeks, Skeeter feels so “singed and hurt” from what happened with Stuart that she thinks she might catch fire. She still hasn’t told her parents that she and Stuart are taking some time off. Skeeter throws herself into her work on the book in order to distract herself from the pain of thinking about Stuart. Charlotte’s ulcers are also getting worse. Skeeter notices that every day her mother looks just a little bit more tired.
Skeeter uses her writing to distract herself from her emotional pain, while Aibileen uses writing to articulate the pains of racism and her personal experience. While the maids tell stories and write to express themselves, Skeeter writes in order to escape from herself and her emotions.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
As she works on turning the last five interviews into stories, Skeeter thinks about the need to protect the maids’ identities. She has given all the maids’ and housewives’ pseudonyms to prevent the housewives from finding out that the stories are about them. Skeeter gives Jackson a fake name and decides to publish the book anonymously so that none of the women know that Skeeter was involved in its composition. Skeeter also starts to worry for her own safety. These stories will make the town’s blood boil and her white skin might not be enough to protect her from the fallout.
Skeeter’s decision to publish the book anonymously shows a shift in her priorities. Since Skeeter cannot tell future employers that she wrote the book without exposing the maids’ contributions, she sacrifices the self-serving potential of publishing a book under her own name in order to protect the other women.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
At a League meeting, Hilly tells Skeeter she wants the ad about her bathroom initiative in this week’s journal or else she’ll have her fired as editor. Skeeter says she won’t publish it and calls Hilly a hypocrite for raising money for African children without providing any support to the black people in their own town. When Skeeter asks for her Jim Crow book back, Hilly says it’s her responsibility to protect the League from racial integrationists. Before Skeeter leaves, Hilly agrees to return her “Negro activist materials” if she prints the ad.
Skeeter explicitly calls out Hilly for her hypocrisy, highlighting the help vs. hypocrisy theme. Hilly’s desire to “help” the African children is ultimately just a false generosity meant to raise her class status as a charitable woman. If Hilly truly cared about generosity and not merely the appearance of generosity, she would give Yule May a loan to send her sons though college.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Sitting at her desk at home, Skeeter feels ashamed while she types up Hilly’s ad. She worries what Constantine would think of her now.
Skeeter again is an example of “helpful hypocrisy” – though she disagrees with the ad, she publishes it anyway in order to stop Hilly’s crusade, which could expose and endanger the maids. At the same time, however, she is compromising her principles and possibly hurting many other people by giving the racist ad a public platform.
Themes
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
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