The Help

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The Help Chapter 23 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Aibileen tells Mae Mobley a “secret story” about a wise alien named Martian Luther King who looked like a human except for one detail: he had green skin. Because of the color of his skin, people treated him poorly. While she tells these stories, Aibileen gives Mae two identical candy treats – one wrapped in brown paper and one in white.
Again Aibileen uses storytelling to teach Mae Mobley about civil rights and the fundamentals of tolerance. The candy also teaches Mae Mobley to recognize that skin color – whether black, white, or green – doesn’t matter, but what matters is kindness on the inside. All this is basically a childlike echo of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
During one of Elizabeth Leefolt’s bridge games, Aibileen opens the door for Celia Foote. She’s come to ask Miss Leefolt about working for the Children’s Benefit. Leefolt comes to the door and, without inviting her in, says they don’t need any more help. She does say that Celia and her husband should attend the Benefit. Miss Hilly comes over and sells two tickets to Celia, saying she should buy ten for all her friends so that she can have her own table. Celia keeps talking casually, not realizing she was just insulted.
The women don’t respect Celia enough to pay her the simple kindness of inviting her inside. In part, the women treat Celia poorly because she is from a working-class background, but the irony is that Elizabeth, who is of a lower class status than Hilly, hypocritically enforces this prejudice. Elizabeth is actually hurting herself by doing this, upholding the class hierarchy that makes her spend money just so she can seem wealthier.
Themes
Social Class  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Celia mentions her maid Minny and Miss Leefolt’s “recommendation” for Minny. When Celia leaves, Aibileen hears Miss Leefolt tell Hilly she never recommended Minny. Hilly say she’ll get to the bottom of what’s going on with “that Nigra” even if it kills her.
By calling Minny a “Nigra” rather than using her real name, Hilly refuses to acknowledge Minny’s individual human identity. Even at this time, “Nigra” was an offensive term for black people because of its association with slavery, showing that Hilly is still holding onto the language – as well as the beliefs – of the racist past.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon