The Help

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The kind but clueless employer of Minny Jackson, Celia comes from a poor “white trash” background and does not know the conventions of how a white woman is “supposed” to treat her black maid as inferior. As a result, she treats Minny with kindness and respect. Hilly, Elizabeth Leefolt, and the rest of the white Jackson housewives shun her because of her lower class status. Internalizing society’s expectations of her as a woman, Celia feels shame that she cannot give her husband, Johnny Foote, a baby. As a result of Minny’s friendship and sage advice, Celia learns to put less weight on what society expects from her.

Celia Foote Quotes in The Help

The The Help quotes below are all either spoken by Celia Foote or refer to Celia Foote. 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 4 Quotes

She’s got so many azalea bushes, her yard’s going to look like Gone With the Wind come spring. I don’t like azaleas and I sure didn’t like that movie, the way they made slavery look like a big happy tea party. If I’d played Mammy, I’d of told Scarlett to stick those green draperies up her white little pooper. Make her own damn man-catching dress.

Related Characters: Minny Jackson (speaker), Celia Foote, Mammy , Scarlet O’Hara
Related Symbols: Bathrooms , The Mimosa Tree
Page Number: 58
Explanation and Analysis:

While working as Celia Foote's maid, Minny watches the television show "The Guiding Light" each day. Celia Foote rather unusually joins her maid during this ritual. Right now, while "The Guiding Light" is on the television, Celia is lying on the couch, staring through the back window and looking at the azalea bushes.

Minny looks out at these bushes as well. Like the antiques and heirlooms in the Foote's mansion, these bushes reflect Mississippi's past. They remind Minny of the beautiful setting of the movie "Gone with the Wind," and the way that nostalgic views of the South's past cover up slavery's brutality. Celia Foote—a welcoming employer—starkly contrasts with most white women from the South's past and present. 

Minny particularly thinks about Mammy, the slave from the movie who helped Scarlett make a "man-catching dress." Like Mammy, Minny is helping a white woman attract and please her man. Instead of helping Celia improve her appearance, though, Minny allows Celia to claim credit for all of Minny's cooking—and hopefully gain her husband's respect. Despite Celia's good intentions and charms, she is still using Minny just as Scarlett used Mammy in "Gone with the Wind."

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Chapter 17 Quotes

See, I think if God had intended for white people and colored people to be this close together for so much of the day, he would’ve made us color-blind. And while Miss Celia’s grinning and “good morning” and “glad to see”-ing me, I’m wondering, how did she get this far in life without knowing where the lines are drawn? I mean, a floozy calling the society ladies is bad enough. But she has sat down and eaten lunch with me every single day since I started working here. I don’t mean in the same room, I mean at the same table. That little one up under the window. Every white woman I’ve ever worked for ate in the dining room as far away from the colored help as they could. And that was fine with me…There are so many things Miss Celia is just plain ignorant about.

Related Characters: Minny Jackson (speaker), Celia Foote
Page Number: 253
Explanation and Analysis:

While working for Celia, Minny is constantly reminded how Celia's childhood in Sugar Ditch makes her ignorant about the social tension and segregation in Jackson, Mississippi. Through Celia's naivete (the way she is "just plain ignorant"), we realize that the racism in Jackson is largely upheld by members of the economically higher social class.

Celia's little actions—insisting on eating with her maid, giving Minny a friendly greeting each morning, innocently offering Minny extra money as if Minny was begging for money when she was just venting about her situation—actually grate on Minny, although they seem kind, and Celia's intentions are good. They put Minny in an uncomfortable situation: having to explain and define the social boundaries which constrict her every day as a black maid for a well-off, white woman. It's not just an employer's unkindness that might bother black maids such as Minny; the larger social structure is the real issue at hand. Celia's kindness only underscores the broader, unfortunate realities of racism and institutionalized oppression. 

Chapter 24 Quotes

She’s got no goo on her face, her hair’s not sprayed, her nightgown’s like an old prairie dress. She takes a deep breath through her nose and I see it. I see the white trash girl she was ten years ago. She was strong. She didn’t take no shit from nobody.

Related Characters: Minny Jackson (speaker), Celia Foote
Page Number: 365
Explanation and Analysis:

The morning after Leroy physically abuses Minny all night, Minny and Celia spot a naked white man from Celia's kitchen window. The man threatens and attacks the women, but Celia beats him with a fireplace poker. Minny finally sees Celia as more than just a naive white lady; during her time in Sugar Ditch, Celia experienced a great deal more than Minny had assumed. To Minny, Celia becomes "the white trash girl she was ten years ago"—an individual scorned by her own society but deserving of respect because of an inner strength most of the wealthy ladies in the novel lack.

This is one of the few scenes of physical violence in The Help. A sharp contrast to the mundane realm of housekeeping, this scene reminds us that the home is not always a safe space. Violence can come from within (in the case of domestic violence) or even from outside, particularly when one's home is as far from the town as Cela's is. 

This scene also suggests how separated Minny and Cecilia are from the rest of their communities. They only experienced this physical combat at all because they were so far from the police and from neighbors. Minny and Celia are strong survivors who are united by their isolation. Although Minny exiled herself from the "Community Concerns" meetings and Celia never even entered a League meeting to begin with, both of these women are united in their isolation.

Chapter 30 Quotes

So I lean my hand on the sideboard because the baby’s getting heavy on me. And I wonder how it is that I have so much when she doesn’t have any. He’s crying. She’s crying. We are three fools in the dining room crying.

Related Characters: Minny Jackson (speaker), Celia Foote, Johnny Foote
Page Number: 476
Explanation and Analysis:

The day after Miss Hilly receives a copy of their book, Minny discovers Mister Johnny home in the morning when she arrives. He and Celia are in the dining room and Celia has just told him about Minny's role over the past few months—and about all of her miscarriages. Johnny offers Minny a job working for them for the rest of her life and Celia asks Minny to stay in the room with them for awhile. 

In this emotional scene, Minny reflects that Celia and Johnny have enormous material wealth but she has a separate kind of familial wealth, with her five children and unborn baby. This is yet another moment where Minny is united with Celia; they are just "fools in the dining room crying." This scene displays many themes of The Help together—work, mothering, material wealth, and knowing or revealing the truth.

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Celia Foote Character Timeline in The Help

The timeline below shows where the character Celia Foote appears in The Help. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
The next day, a woman named Celia Foote calls the Miss Leefolt’s residence and speaks to Aibileen. She wants to join the... (full context)
Chapter 3
Racism Theme Icon
Minny narrates this chapter. Celia Foote’s large mansion is way out in the country. Celia wears a lot of makeup... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
After showing her around, Celia offers Minny the job, but doesn’t know how to go about hiring her. Minny has... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Celia’s home is a mess – dirty clothes everywhere, rust under the carpets, tons of dust.... (full context)
Chapter 4
Racism Theme Icon
Social Class  Theme Icon
Minny finds Celia’s mansion creepy because it has so many rooms and no children. Celia only ever leaves... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Looking out at the untended azalea bushes in Celia’s yard, Minny thinks that Celia’s property looks like the plantation in Gone with the Wind,... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
...she hears the sound of a car coming up the driveway and assumes Mister Johnny, Celia’s husband, has come home early. When Minny yells to Celia that her husband is home,... (full context)
Chapter 10
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
On the first day of December, Minny starts to fear what Celia’s husband, Johnny Foote, will do when he finds out she’s been working there. Minny remembers... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Celia starts going pale with worry about the approaching day when she has to tell her... (full context)
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
While Celia is getting her hair done, Minny is cleaning the bedroom when Mister Johnny, holding an... (full context)
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...a maid growing up calms Minny’s fears. Johnny tells her that he’s doesn’t know why Celia has been keeping her a secret. He only came home early to cut down the... (full context)
Chapter 17
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In June, a heat wave strikes, making Celia even more housebound. In order to get Celia out of the house, Minny suggests that... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
One day at Celia’s, Minny brings in a large package from the mail. Celia takes it straight to her... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
At lunch, Celia says that she’s lucky to have a friend like Minny. Minny says that they’re not... (full context)
Chapter 18
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
On Monday morning, Minny drives to Celia’s with the plan to apologize. But Celia, who seems ill, lets her in and goes... (full context)
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Celia reveals that she was five months pregnant. Minny says that drinking hurts the baby, but... (full context)
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Celia says Johnny only knows about her first miscarriage, the one she had soon after getting... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Dr. Tate is a pale, cruel-looking older man. While Minny anxiously waits to hear about Celia’s condition, a nurse comes out of the room with a tin box that Minny thinks... (full context)
Chapter 23
Social Class  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy 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... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Celia mentions her maid Minny and Miss Leefolt’s “recommendation” for Minny. When Celia leaves, Aibileen hears... (full context)
Chapter 24
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...calls to tell Minny what happened at Miss Leefolt’s and Minny begins to fear that Celia will fire her as soon as she finds out about the false recommendation. One day,... (full context)
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Celia acts normally around Minny, which gives Minny the hope that Hilly hasn’t contacted her yet.... (full context)
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
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While Minny is on the ground bleeding from the reopened cut, Celia comes out and beats the man almost to death with a fire poker. Minny cannot... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
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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 Celia doesn’t see the lines between people –... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Social Class  Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The next day, Celia asks Minny why the other women aren’t friendly to her. Trying to follow Aibileen’s advice,... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Social Class  Theme Icon
On the night of the Benefit, Celia dresses in a tight hot-pink dress. As in past years, Minny will be working in... (full context)
Chapter 25
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
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...made sure that everyone will shun Skeeter in revenge for putting toilets on her lawn. Celia arrives with her husband Johnny. Most of the men in the room ogle Celia while... (full context)
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...the pie, thinking that someone must have signed her up for it as a joke. Celia, very drunk at this point, comes over to Hilly and grabs her sleeve. Hilly tries... (full context)
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The music suddenly cuts when Celia tells Hilly that Johnny never cheated on her, that she and Johnny only slept together... (full context)
Chapter 26
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All day after the Benefit, Celia stays in bed without getting dressed or putting on any makeup. Mister Johnny is on... (full context)
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For the entire week, Celia doesn’t shower, barely eats, and doesn’t leave her room. On the day Mister Johnny is... (full context)
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
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Minny decides to tell Celia about what happened with Hilly and the pie, hoping it will make Celia see that... (full context)
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Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
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Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
The next day, Celia takes an axe and goes out in the rain to cut down the mimosa tree... (full context)
Chapter 30
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...her and the pie. When Minny arrives at work the next day, Mister Johnny and Celia are in the kitchen waiting for her. Celia reveals that she told him about all... (full context)