The Help

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The Help Chapter 26 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
All day after the Benefit, Celia stays in bed without getting dressed or putting on any makeup. Mister Johnny is on a deer-hunting trip and has asked Minny to watch over Celia while he’s away. While cleaning, Minny sees an opened letter from Hilly, stating that Celia can give the two hundred dollars she owes her for the ripped dress to the Benefit fund. She also writes that Celia is not allowed to attend any more events at the club.
Celia is so insecure about the idea of her social class that she becomes depressed now that she no longer has the chance to integrate into Jackson high society.
Themes
Social Class  Theme Icon
For the entire week, Celia doesn’t shower, barely eats, and doesn’t leave her room. On the day Mister Johnny is returning home, Celia tells Minny that she’s going back to her hometown because Johnny’s too good for her. She says he deserves to marry someone from his own social class. Celia says that the worst thing about the night of the Benefit was being called a liar about the pie in front of everyone. She doesn’t even know what Hilly was talking about.
Because Celia has internalized societal beliefs about the importance of social class, she comes to the conclusion that she’s an embarrassment and a burden to Johnny, not realizing that Johnny loves her for herself and not for her class status.
Themes
Social Class  Theme Icon
Minny decides to tell Celia about what happened with Hilly and the pie, hoping it will make Celia see that Hilly is a cruel person not worth getting upset about. Minny explains how she lost her job working for Miss Walters (Hilly’s mother) after Hilly put her mother into a nursing home. Hilly, then, started spreading rumors that Minny stole from Miss Walters, which made the other white women refuse to hire her. Knowing Minny had nowhere to work, Hilly told her she should come work for her. When Minny refuses, Hilly says she’s doing her a favor and that Minny should be so grateful to her that she should be willing to work for nothing. Minny tells her to “eat my shit.”
Hilly’s reasons for telling Minny to work for her are totally self-serving. It’s likely that Hilly wants the other women to think that she is a forgiving, charitable Christian for offering Minny, now an alleged thief, a job and a second chance. Thus, Hilly hurts Minny just so she can appear as if she is helping her. Hilly’s suggestion that Minny work for nothing is also extremely offensive, because Hilly is implicitly suggesting that Minny should offer herself up as a slave.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Minny goes home, bakes a chocolate pie, and then returns to the house and gives it to Hilly, who thinks it’s a peace offering. Hilly has two big slices. When Miss Walters asks for a piece, Minny says she shouldn’t have any because the pie has a “special ingredient” in it. Realizing what’s inside, Hilly vomits. To Minny’s surprise, Miss Walters starts laughing, saying that Hilly can’t tell anyone about what Minny did or else everyone will know she enjoyed eating “two slices of Minny’s shit.”
Minny humiliates Hilly as an act of revenge, but also gains some power over her. Now Minny has a secret she can use to blackmail Hilly if she continues to spread rumors. Minny’s revenge also targets Hilly’s racist belief that black people carry diseases. In one sense, by feeding Hilly two slices of excrement pie without her getting sick, Minny illustrates the simple truth that black people do not carry racially specific diseases.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
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The next day, Celia takes an axe and goes out in the rain to cut down the mimosa tree she hates. At the kitchen table, Minny sees a check made out to Hilly for two hundred dollars with a note that says, “For Two-Slice Hilly.”
Minny’s story makes Celia recognize that she shouldn’t put so much stake in Hilly’s opinion, or in the classist, sexist, and racist societal expectations that she embodies. With this knowledge, Celia now finds the strength to cut down the mimosa tree, symbolically letting go of her guilt about not having children.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Social Class  Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon