The Help

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Aibileen Clark Character Analysis

One of the novel’s three narrators, Aibileen is a wise but reserved middle-aged black maid who takes pride in knowing that she has helped raise seventeen white children in her lifetime. Aibileen cares the most about two people in this world: her best friend Minny Jackson and Mae Mobley, the white girl she raises over the course of novel. As the novel’s moral compass, Aibileen is a warm, compassionate woman who bears racial oppression with a quiet resilience. Aibileen has the uncanny ability to see the good in any person, but the death of her son Treelore causes a “bitter seed” to grow inside her that makes her less tolerant of racist housewives like her employer Miss Leefolt and Leefolt’s friend Miss Hilly. This bitterness prompts her to help Miss Skeeter reveal the truth about how these women treat their maids. Her moral principles and desire to hold Jackson accountable for its oppression of black domestic workers then gives her the strength to continue working on the project, despite the dangers threatening her.

Aibileen Clark Quotes in The Help

The The Help quotes below are all either spoken by Aibileen Clark or refer to Aibileen Clark. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Racism Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Berkley Books edition of The Help published in 2009.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Taking care a white babies, that’s what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bathrooms
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

As The Help opens in Chapter One, Aibileen describes Mae Mobley’s birth and then immediately says these words. Though this quote serves as Aibileen’s first self-introduction, it do not directly inform us about Aibileen’s own past. Rather, it fittingly describes our compassionate protagonist as she relates to others (such as the seventeen children she raised). Aibileen's story (through Skeeter's writing) will become a force of social change, a story which benefits a society.

This introduction gives us a sense of who this society is. Although Aibileen does not directly mention that she lives in Jackson, Mississippi, her dialect already suggests this Southern setting. She also alludes to the tensions between Southern maids and "mamas," who co-exist in the same homes yet are divided by institutionalized and personal racism. Perhaps the most blatant sign of this personal racism occurs when housewives forbid their maids from using their houses' restrooms; the "toilet bowl" and the bathroom become particularly fraught with cultural tensions as The Help continues.

In this first quote we are also introduced to the way Stockett tries to replicate a Southern Black dialect in her narrative. While this is most historically realistic in writing from the perspective of a character like Aibileen, and Stockett seems to be well-intentioned, this conceit also been seen as condescending and even racist by many critics—those who essentially claim that no matter Stockett's personal intentions, the long history of oppression and racism in America make it inappropriate for a white woman to casually assume the dialect of a black maid in order to further her own personal causes (like selling this book).

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Got to be the worst place in the world, inside a oven. You in here, you either cleaning or you getting cooked. Tonight I just know I’m on have that dream I’m stuck inside and the gas gets turned on. But I keep my head in that awful place cause I’d rather be anywhere sides answering Miss Leefolt’s questions about what Miss Skeeter was trying to say to me. Asking do I want to change things.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, Elizabeth Leefolt
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Skeeter has a brief conversation with Aibileen in the kitchen, during which Skeeter expresses disgust about Hilly's Home Help Sanitation Initiative and naively asks Aibileen if she wishes she could "change things." Aibileen then starts to clean the oven. With her head inside the oven, Aibileen reflects on the oven's interior—a hot, stifling place which is intimately associated with domestic servitude ("cooking and cleaning"). This suffocating space functions as a compressed symbol of the South; although its small size contrasts with the expansive plantations on which slaves toiled, the oven represents the smaller homes which now limit the lives of female Southern workers in the 1960s. And racism is still what forces that limitation, as Aibileen keeps her head in the oven to avoid the repercussions of Miss Leefolt's racism and oppressive power over her.

However, our narrator Aibileen does not directly describe this symbolism herself. She has worked as a housemaid for decades and does not believe that she could suddenly have the power to "change things." At the moment, in fact, she is trying to avoid facing the repercussions for Skeeter's actions. Right now, Aibileen's employer Elizabeth Leefolt is lingering in the kitchen, upset and curious about Aibileen and Skeeter's previous conversation. If Miss Leefolt directly asks Aibileen about Skeeter's question and this previous conversation, then Aibileen would be forced to tell her about Skeeter's critique of the status quo. And Aibileen knows that, given Miss Leefolt's racism and the power she holds over Aibileen, it would be Aibileen whom Leefolt would blame, not Skeeter.

Chapter 2 Quotes

I put the iron down real slow, feel that bitter seed grow in my chest, the one planted after Treelore died. My face goes hot, my tongue twitchy. I don’t know what to say to her. All I know is, I ain’t saying it. And I know she ain’t saying what she want a say either and it’s a strange thing happening here cause nobody saying nothing and we still managing to have us a conversation.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Elizabeth Leefolt, Treelore
Related Symbols: Bathrooms , The Bitter Seed
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

While Aibileen was ironing, Miss Leefolt comes over to inform Aibileen that she has a "surprise" for Aibileen: "her very own bathroom" in the garage. However, Miss Leefolt is not just giving Aibileen a bathroom to use; she is implying that Aibileen is unsanitary, and so shouldn't share a bathroom with the white family she works for. In this conversation, Miss Leefolt keeps her racist thoughts and racist fears about supposed "diseases" superficially hidden under not just a veneer of politeness, but a veneer of generosity: her "gift" of a bathroom for Aibileen is in fact a way to stop Aibileen from using the same bathrooms that Miss Leefolt and her family use, and to keep Aibileen feeling separate and dehumanized. Aibileen similarly keeps her true reactions to herself, making this conversation a case of "nobody saying nothing." 

Miss Leefolt and Aibileen keep their feelings hidden as well as their words. Aibileen particularly describes her emotions as a "bitter seed ... in my chest," which she first felt after her skinny, bookish son Treelore was crushed by a tractor during a work shift. Treelore was not physically suited for such a demanding mill job, but had to resort to such work because of the racist social structure in which he lived. Yet Treelore's sacrifice was not in vain; it motivates Aibileen throughout the novel, first making her "tongue twitchy" but eventually encouraging her to say her words in stories if she cannot say them directly. 

Chapter 7 Quotes

I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty ain't a color, disease ain't the negro side of town. I want to stop that moment from coming – and it come in every white child's life – when they start to think that colored folks are not as good as whites.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Mae Mobley Leefolt
Related Symbols: Bathrooms
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

After Miss Hilly sees Mae Mobley attempt to use Aibileen's toilet, she orders Aibileen to leave her alone with her daughter -- only to repeatedly spank Mae Mobley and, in supposedly whispered tones, declare that Aibileen and her bathroom are "dirty" and ridden with "disease." This disturbing scene impels Aibileen to want to scream the truth (that, as she remarks, "dirty ain't a color, disease ain't the negro side of town"). However, Aibileen cannot say anything in this situation, as she stands in her employer's kitchen. Again we see Aibileen's inability to share her thoughts and words because of her relatively powerless position in society.

Aibileen knows that Mae Mobley will, eventually, "start to think" of black people as inferior. This fact underscores the conditioned nature of racism; racist thoughts are inspired by cultural and social surroundings. Children such as Mae Mobley must be taught to be racist. For now, though, Mae Mobley serves as a reminder that change may happen in the future and in future generations.

Chapter 8 Quotes

Aibileen just stood there and I wished I wasn’t in the room. Please, I thought, please don’t say thank you.
“Yes ma’am.” Aibileen opened a drawer and reached inside, but Hilly kept looking at her. It was so obvious what she wanted.
Another second passed with no one moving. Hilly cleared her throat and finally Aibileen lowered her head. “Thank you, ma’am,” she whispered. She walked back into the kitchen. It’s no wonder she doesn’t want to talk to me.

Related Characters: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (speaker), Aibileen Clark, Hilly Holbrook
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

While Hilly is at Elizabeth's house one day, Hilly tells Aibileen that her husband was responsible for the construction of Aibileen's bathroom. After Hilly describes this, she clearly waits for Aibileen to say thank you, creating the silence and social tension present in this passage. Hilly acts as if Aibileen's bathroom is a gift (a form of "help" for the help), ignoring this bathroom's other implications: that black women are "dirty" or disease-ridden and that racially-segregated spaces are more suitable than integrated ones.

Skeeter knows that this form of help from the Holbrooks is hypocritical, but again her view of social degradation becomes about Skeeter's own emotions. Skeeter reflects that Aibileen likely doesn't want to talk to her because of her friendship with Hilly. Of course, Aibileen could also not wish to talk to Skeeter because of Skeeter's own actions. Earlier, Skeeter attempted to bribe Aibileen into participating in her project. Skeeter tried to give Aibileen an envelope of money, as thanks for her help with the Miss Myrna letters but also as an incentive to encourage Aibileen to share her story as a maid. As we've seen earlier, even Skeeter is hypocritical; she'd like to help AIbileen but she'd also like to help herself.


Chapter 10 Quotes

It’s something about that word truth. I’ve been trying to tell white women the truth about working for them since I was fourteen years old…Truth. It feels cool, like water washing over my sticky-hot body. Cooling a heat that’s been burning me up all my life.
Truth, I say inside my head again, just for that feeling.

Related Characters: Minny Jackson (speaker), Aibileen Clark, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

Before their church service starts, Aibileen tells Minny about Skeeter's idea to publish a book that tells the truth about black maids' lives. Aibileen had asked Minny to come early to church for this, but Aibileen pretends that she is not going to tell Skeeter her story (because "we don't want a bring all that mess up" and "tell people the truth"). Yet Minny can see through Aibileen's deception and realizes that Aibileen is actually planning on working with Skeeter on this project.

This concept of telling the truth is particularly resonant for Minny in general and in this moment. Through her sass and humor, Minny has been attempting to tell the truth since she first worked for a white woman at the age of fourteen (and was, at that point, fired for sharing her true thoughts). Through helping with Skeeter's project, Minny could speak her story more directly.

Here, Minny also describes the "heat" inside her—a motivating force similar to Aibileen's "bitter seed." Minny and Aibileen both have largely internal motivations for participating in Skeeter's book.

Chapter 11 Quotes

On my drive home, I want to kick myself. For thinking I could just waltz in and demand answers. For thinking she’d stop feeling like the maid just because we were at her house, because she wasn’t wearing a uniform.

Related Characters: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (speaker), Aibileen Clark
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

As Skeeter first tries to interview Aibileen about her experiences, Aibileen is terrified. She is only physically able to give short answers, before she, nauseous, leaves the room and likely vomits. The short interview then ends and Skeeter leaves Aibileen's house to drive home. 

Finally, we see Skeeter begin to understand her limited perspective. She realizes that Aibileen's job as a maid is more than just a job; it is a confining way of life (so Aibileen cannot "stop feeling like the maid" as soon as she is away from her employers). Skeeter—the white, recent college graduate who is admittedly uninformed about the recent civil rights developments and dangers—begins to see that she is trying to "demand answers" which are difficult to give. She is asking black maids to participate in a dangerous act that violates Southern social norms, when they are one of the most powerless groups in that society (the maids, not Skeeter, will be punished for disrupting the status quo). Now that Skeeter realizes this reality, she finally starts to recognizes her naïveté in her desire to "kick herself."

Chapter 13 Quotes

I realize, like a shell cracking open in my head, there’s no difference between these government laws and Hilly building Aibileen a bathroom in the garage, except ten minutes’ worth of signatures in the state capital.

Related Characters: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (speaker), Aibileen Clark, Hilly Holbrook
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

When Skeeter browses at the library and searches for books that might help her describe the lives of black domestic workers, she discovers  a booklet which details the "Jim Crow Laws of the South." She reads a few pages, "mesmerized" by the factual and direct wording of these laws, which everyone seems to implicitly know but never openly discusses. 

Skeeter makes herself stop reading because she feels this material is off topic; she is writing about maids instead of Southern legislation. However, Skeeter then realizes that "there's no difference" between these simple, matter-of-fact laws that enforce segregation and less direct attempts to separate individual blacks and whites (such as Hilly's attempt to separate Aibileen from Miss Leefolt's regular bathroom). All of the previous, more personal events of The Help are here connected to the larger legislative forces at work in the 1960s.

Chapter 14 Quotes

I feel my lip curling. A course we different! Everbody know colored people and white people ain’t the same. But we still just people! Shoot, I even been hearing Jesus had colored skin living out there in the desert. I press my lips together.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

One afternoon, Hilly brings her children over to Miss Leefolt's and, while the children are playing, Hilly tries to prod Aibileen into saying that she would prefer segregated schools. When Aibileen refuses to comply with Hilly's implicit command, Hilly responds that "colored people and white people are just so... different."

Now, Aibileen must revert back to her silence; she could only briefly stand up to Hilly. Turning quiet, she reflects that white and black folks are indeed different, but are both "just people." This quote essentially captures the (rather over-simplistic) "moral" of the book—that if everyone would fully recognize that blacks and whites are both "just people," racism would end.

Furthermore, it's likely that Jesus—the supposed center of these religious white women's lives—himself "had colored skin." When Aibileen comments on this, she draws our attention to other characters' hypocritical practice of religion. Religion is a complicated force in The Help: we see Aibileen selflessly use prayer to intercede for other members of her community; we see Skeeter pretend to participate in religious gatherings or initiatives in order to disguise her true activities (while she works on her book with Aibileen and Minny); and we see Miss Hilly wholeheartedly believe she is a Christian, despite her attempts to dehumanize the black individuals around her.

But this bag is different. Even what would fit me in that paper sack, I can’t wear. Can’t give to my friends either. Ever piece in that bag—the culotte pants, the shirt with the Peter Pan collar, the pink jacket with the gravy stain on it, even the socks—they all got the letters H.W.H. sewn in. Red thread, pretty little cursive letters. I reckon Yule May had to sew them letters. Wearing those, I’d feel like I’s personal-owned property a Hilly W. Holbrook.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Yule May
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

While Aibileen sits at her kitchen table, a cockroach scuttles under the unopened bag of clothes which Miss Hilly gave her a few months ago. Although Aibileen often uses clothes which other white women similarly give to her, she knows she could never bring herself to wear a piece of Hilly's donated clothing. The clothes—with their "red thread, pretty little cursive letters"—represent Hilly herself, and indeed have all been marked with her initials, so that Aibileen would feels as if she was almost branded with Hilly's "ownership" if she wore the clothes (a poignant echo of how slavery has ended in the South, but institutionalized oppression has not). With her put-together, elegant appearance, beautiful looking children, and veneer of politeness, Hilly seems to embody the pretense of well-meaning Southern society.  

Yet, Aibileen knows what lies under Hilly's appearances. She sees how Hilly's greed for control extends into the way she treats black people as individuals who must obey her demands (as"personal-owned property"). Hilly represents the South that Aibileen attempts to stand up against, through her writing. "Miss Hilly" was Aibileen's reason for helping Skeeter with this project, and when Aibileen refuses to use or even unpack the clothes which Miss Hilly gave her, we see that Aibileen is rising against Hilly in whatever ways she can.

After while, my mind done drifted to where I wish it wouldn’t. I reckon I know pretty well what would happen if the white ladies found out we was writing about them, telling the truth a what they really like. Womens, they ain’t like men. A woman ain’t gone beat you with a stick. Miss Hilly wouldn’t pull no pistol on me. Miss Leefolt wouldn’t come burn my house down.
No, white womens like to keep they hands clean. They got a shiny little set a tools they use, sharp as witches’ fingernails, tidy and laid out neat, like the picks on a dentist tray. They gone take they time with em.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

Earlier that afternoon, Aibileen heard Miss Hilly tell Elizabeth "I read it," in regards to something in Skeeter's satchel. Aibileen knows that Hilly might have read her stories, but there is nothing she can do in this situation; she can't even call Skeeter because it would be too difficult to explain why a black woman is calling Skeeter's house. Aibileen can only think about the possible repercussions of her stories. She knows that, if white women such as Hilly or Elizabeth found out, they would use indirect means ("a shiny little set a tools") such as gossip, firing, and manipulation to ensure that Aibileen would lose her life as she knew it—her job, home, and stability. 

As Aibileen here describes, and Minny's difficulty finding a job revealed, a white woman can be just as much of a cruel, racist segregationist as her man, although she uses less obvious means. These white women gain their unfortunate power because of their ability to hold a grudge and "take their time." Because women with maids are typically women in well-off homes who lack major economic worries, they can afford to take whatever time they need to fully satisfy their grudge and destroy the lives of those who are powerless. 

Chapter 34 Quotes

I walk out the back door, to the terrible sound a Mae Mobley crying again. I start down the driveway, crying too, knowing how much I’m on miss Mae Mobley, praying her mama can show her more love. But at the same time feeling, in a way, that I’m free…Freer than Miss Leefolt, who so locked up in her own head she don’t even recognize herself when she read it. And freer than Miss Hilly. That woman gone spend the rest a her life trying to convince people she didn’t eat that pie. I think about Yule May setting in jail. Cause Miss Hilly, she in her own jail, but with a lifelong term.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt, Mae Mobley Leefolt, Yule May
Related Symbols: Minny’s “Special Ingredient” Pie
Page Number: 521
Explanation and Analysis:

After Hilly accuses Aibileen of stealing silver and makes Elizabeth fire her, Aibileen leaves the Leefolt's home for the last time. Like Minny, who recently decided to leave her abusive husband, Aibileen now feels free to decide her future. She is no longer stuck caring for others' children; instead of providing Mae Mobley with daily love, she will only hope that Mae Mobley will experience such love in the future. Aibileen's storytelling has cost her a former way of life, but it provides her with the internal power to determine a more fulfilling future. 

Aibileen recognizes how her storytelling simultaneously removed some of Hilly's freedom; Hilly will forever try to convince others that she did not "eat that pie." The truth of Aibileen's stories set her free, but Hilly's willingness to engage in lies makes her lack freedom, "in her own jail ... with a lifelong term." As The Help closes, we see Hilly as a kind of chained figure, no longer the character with the most authority and control.

The sun is bright but my eyes is wide open. I stand at the bus stop like I been doing for forty-odd years. In thirty minutes, my whole life’s . . . done. Maybe I ought to keep writing, not just for the paper, but something else, about all the people I know and the things I seen and done. Maybe I ain’t too old to start over, I think and I laugh and cry at the same time at this. Cause just last night I thought I was finished with everthing new.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker)
Page Number: 522
Explanation and Analysis:

The Help ends on an uncertain note. Though Aibileen, Minny, and the other maids have had too-determined futures of housekeeping, and Skeeter has been stuck in various characters' expectations (such as Stuart's and her mother's), now these characters have new lives looking forward. Minny and Skeeter have moved on from their old homes and Aibileen has moved beyond Mae Mobley, her almost-daughter. The future is circumscribed in "maybe."

Yet, Aibileen's eyes are "wide open." She realizes that she has a future, although she does not know exactly what it is. The book did help her, although it initially cost her a job. Of course, it did not help her as much as it helped Skeeter. Skeeter has a new city, a new job, and, fittingly, new hair. Aibileen does not have any of these benefits. Though The Help described a genuine friendship between a black maid and a young white woman, it also suggests that there is much more social progress to be made, until characters such as Skeeter and Aibileen can be truly equal and have equally promising "new" beginnings. 

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Aibileen Clark Character Timeline in The Help

The timeline below shows where the character Aibileen Clark appears in The Help. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
It is August 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi and Aibileen Clark, a 53-year-old African American housemaid, narrates her experience working in white households. She has... (full context)
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Aibileen remembers losing her own son, Treelore, two years earlier. At twenty-four, Treelore was writing a... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Aibileen resents Miss Leefolt for taking pleasure in telling her what to do. Miss Leefolt lives... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Aibileen serves the women food and overhears Miss Hilly accuse her mother’s maid Minny Jackson, Aibileen’s... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
After Miss Hilly and Miss Walters leave, Aibileen finds Miss Skeeter waiting for her in the kitchen. She asks Aibileen if she ever... (full context)
Chapter 2
Racism Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Aibileen explains that in Jackson white families live in nice neighborhoods, but the black families have... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Social Class  Theme Icon
Two days after the talk about the bathroom, Aibileen arrives at work where Mister Raleigh Leefolt (Miss Leefolt’s husband) is yelling at Miss Leefolt... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
That evening, Aibileen realizes that increases in bus fare and rent means that she’ll only have thirteen dollars... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
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...and Miss Leefolt to pick her up and slap her hard against the leg. When Aibileen picks her up to console and protect her from her mother, Mae Mobley hits her... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...next day, a woman named Celia Foote calls the Miss Leefolt’s residence and speaks to Aibileen. She wants to join the Children’s Benefit, an organization Miss Leefolt helps run. She also... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Social Class  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The bathroom is ready by the next afternoon. Miss Leefolt tells Aibileen, who feels the bitter seed growing in her chest, that she should be happy that... (full context)
Chapter 6
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...mental breakdown. With no housecleaning experience, Skeeter goes to Elizabeth’s house to ask her maid, Aibileen, for advice on common cleaning problems. Elizabeth agrees to let them talk the next morning... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
The next morning, Skeeter reads Aibileen a few of the housekeeping questions that people have sent to the newspaper and Aibileen... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
On a day when Elizabeth is out of the house, Skeeter returns to Aibileen for more advice. With Elizabeth out, Aibileen feels more comfortable speaking openly about herself and... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Feeling a small connection develop between them, Aibileen tells Skeeter that it’s wrong that she doesn’t know the truth about why Constantine left.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
It’s late October and Aibileen finds the bathroom in the carport a cold and isolating place. After witnessing Miss Leefolt... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
While shopping at the white supermarket with Mae Mobley, Aibileen runs into another maid and friend who tells her that two white men beat Robert... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Returning home from work, Aibileen sees Miss Skeeter waiting for her on her porch. Tired and distraught from the day’s... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Aibileen tells Skeeter it’s too dangerous – black people in Jackson get killed for just going... (full context)
Chapter 8
Racism Theme Icon
Driving back from Aibileen’s, Skeeter feels the “narrow eyes” of Aibileen’s black neighbors watch her fancy Cadillac car as... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
A few days later, Skeeter arrives at Elizabeth’s to ask Aibileen more questions about housekeeping. After a few questions, Skeeter brings out an envelope full of... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...for the product to take effect, she remembers going to Elizabeth’s house with Hilly. When Aibileen had brought them coffee, Hilly asked Aibileen demeaning, rhetorical questions about the bathroom like, “It’s... (full context)
Chapter 9
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
Two days after the date, Aibileen calls Skeeter’s home and asks what guarantee she has that Skeeter won’t turn on her... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
At church one evening, Minny sits besides Aibileen. Aibileen says that she’s thinking about telling Miss Skeeter the truth about what’s it like... (full context)
Chapter 11
Racism Theme Icon
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At Aibileen’s home, Skeeter interviews her in a small parlor room while Aibileen serves tea. Skeeter has... (full context)
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During the interview, Skeeter asks Aibileen what she doesn’t like about her job. Beginning to sweat heavily, Aibileen is terrified to... (full context)
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A few days later, Skeeter gets a call from Aibileen. Aibileen says that she wants to write down her experiences as a maid and then... (full context)
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Skeeter returns to Aibileen’s for the second interview. To make Aibileen more comfortable, Skeeter asks to sit in the... (full context)
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Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
Aibileen takes out a notebook and starts reading the story she wrote about raising her first... (full context)
Chapter 12
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Every other night for two weeks, Skeeter goes to Aibileen’s to hear Aibileen read her stories. Skeeter realizes that Aibileen’s clear, honest style of writing... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
After a few meetings, Aibileen asks Skeeter to check out some classic works of literature from the white library so... (full context)
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Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
That evening, Skeeter informs Aibileen that Elaine said that they need twelve more maids if they want the book published.... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
The interview takes places at Aibileen’s house. Aibileen is there to support and encourage Minny who is visibly distrustful of Skeeter.... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Aibileen nods at Skeeter, giving her the okay to begin the interview. Skeeter asks Minny to... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...already peeked through the documents. Hilly gives her back the satchel and Skeeter sees that Aibileen and Minny’s notes are safely tucked away in a side pocket but that the law... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...in a plastic kid’s pool at the Leefolt’s. Miss Leefolt is a few months pregnant. Aibileen is surprised to see that Miss Hilly, normally such an unkind woman, is a very... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
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Miss Hilly turns away from Aibileen and starts telling Miss Leefolt that her husband is running for office and she can’t... (full context)
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At her home, Aibileen sees a bag of old clothing Miss Hilly gave her, ones she’ll never wear because... (full context)
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Aibileen tries to write down her prayers, but she cannot stop thinking about what Hilly would... (full context)
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Skeeter calls Aibileen and tells her about Hilly going through her satchel. Aibileen responds that she already knew... (full context)
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Aibileen is coming home from work late one night when the bus stops at a police... (full context)
Chapter 15
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One afternoon, Mae Mobley asks Aibileen to tell her a story before her nap. Tired of reading her the usual stories,... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
Chapter 16
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At Aibileen’s all-black church, the community meets to pray for Medgar Evers. Aibileen sits behind Yule May,... (full context)
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After the prayer meeting, Aibileen asks Yule May about her college days and tells her that she’s been doing some... (full context)
Chapter 17
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One day on a walk with Aibileen, Minny thinks about how the stories she tells Miss Skeeter have become a great relief... (full context)
Chapter 19
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That night, Skeeter goes to Aibileen’s where her church has gathered to pray for Yule May. They have started a fund... (full context)
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Over the next few days, Skeeter interviews the women at Aibileen’s. Aibileen sits beside the women while they talk, giving them the confidence to tell their... (full context)
Chapter 22
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On Mae Mobley’s third birthday, Aibileen prepares her a special breakfast while Miss Leefolt is off getting her hair done. Mae... (full context)
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...they’re doing this for Skeeter’s own safety because there are real racists out there. When Aibileen later tells Skeeter about all this, Skeeter shrugs it off, saying she doesn’t care what... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Aibileen tells Mae Mobley a “secret story” about a wise alien named Martian Luther King who... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 24
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Aibileen calls to tell Minny what happened at Miss Leefolt’s and Minny begins to fear that... (full context)
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That night, Minny goes to Aibileen’s and tells her about what happened with Celia and the white man. Minny comments that... (full context)
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...day, Celia asks Minny why the other women aren’t friendly to her. Trying to follow Aibileen’s advice, Minny tells her it’s because they think she’s a white trash hick who stole... (full context)
Chapter 25
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In third person, the narration describes the event. Aibileen and Minny are in the kitchen working and Skeeter is standing silently against a wall.... (full context)
Chapter 27
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At Aibileen’s, Skeeter tells her what Stein said about adding a more personal story. Aibileen agrees to... (full context)
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That night, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter meet at Aibileen’s to pick a title for the book. Skeeter suggests... (full context)
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Aibileen takes a day off of work to meet with Skeeter and tell her Constantine’s story.... (full context)
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Back at Aibileen’s, Skeeter brings over the whole manuscript to show Minny and Aibileen. As they look over... (full context)
Chapter 28
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In mid-January, 1964, Skeeter meets with Minny and Aibileen at Aibileen’s house and tells them that Elaine Stein just called. Her publishing house will... (full context)
Chapter 29
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From the kitchen of Miss Leefolt’s, Aibileen watches Mae Mobley plays with her newborn brother, Ross, who is only a few months... (full context)
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From inside the black church, Aibileen watches Skeeter drop a brown package at the steps of the church and walk away.... (full context)
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Aibileen and Minny, who’s six months pregnant, go to a church event. When they arrive the... (full context)
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...program that is going to review the book may change all that. At Miss Leefolt’s, Aibileen turns on the television to watch the program in the living room while she irons.... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Aibileen sees the book on Miss Leefolt’s nightstand and worries each time Leefolt’s bookmark inches closer... (full context)
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The next day, Aibileen sees that Leefolt has already read past the second chapter. Since she doesn’t treat Aibileen... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...a scream. Skeeter wants to get out of Mississippi but she doesn’t want to leave Aibileen and the rest of the maids to deal with the fallout from the book’s publication.... (full context)
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...she decides not to give her the letter. She tells Skeeter that she knows that Aibileen told stories about Elizabeth Leefolt because of a small, identifying detail she included about Elizabeth’s... (full context)
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Skeeter calls Aibileen at her house. Minny is also at Aibileen’s. She tells them about Hilly’s threats and... (full context)
Chapter 34
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Aibileen arrives at Minny’s to talk about the reception of the book. Minny heard about one... (full context)
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...imaginary diner, and not move no matter what she does to him – a game Aibileen played with Mae Mobley to teach her about civil rights. Her father, Raleigh, hears them... (full context)
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One night a few days later, Skeeter arrives at Aibileen’s to say goodbye before she flies out to New York tomorrow. It’s the first time... (full context)
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Late that night, Aibileen gets a call from Minny. Minny says that Miss Hilly used her connections to get... (full context)
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While Aibileen is at work at the Leefolt’s the next day, Hilly and Miss Leefolt call Aibileen... (full context)
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Miss Leefolt fires Aibileen but Hilly says it’s not worth pressing charges. Aibileen leaves the house and feels as... (full context)