The Help

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Skeeter’s childhood maid, Constantine is like a second mother to her, providing love and compassion. The novel begins in the months after Constantine has left Jackson for Chicago without telling Skeeter. Throughout the novel, Skeeter tries to find out what happened to her, eventually learning the truth from Aibileen. Ashamed that her daughter Lulabelle was pale-skinned, Constantine gave her up for adoption when she was four. But Constantine feels guilt over this moment of weakness and ultimately tries to redeem herself by leaving Jackson to go live with her estranged daughter in Chicago. Over sixty years old, Constantine only lives in Chicago for three weeks before she dies.

Constantine Bates Quotes in The Help

The The Help quotes below are all either spoken by Constantine Bates or refer to Constantine Bates. 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 5 Quotes

“Now you look a here, Eugenia”—because Constantine was the only one who’d occasionally follow Mama’s rule. “Ugly live up on the inside. Ugly be a hurtful, mean person.”

Related Characters: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (speaker), Constantine Bates (speaker), Charlotte Phelan
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

During a sequence of flashback scenes about Skeeter's childhood, and particularly about her relationship to her family's black maid Constantine, Skeeter describes a scene that occurred when she was thirteen. Skeeter was crying, distraught that one of her brother's friends called her "ugly." Constantine found Skeeter in the kitchen and told her these words. 

Constantine's characterization of "ugly" as a defect in one's personality (which makes someone a "hurtful, mean person") demonstrates how Constantine has a wiser, more mature interpretation of the world than Skeeter's mother does. While Skeeter's mother is concerned about the superficial surface of Skeeter's appearance (because she hopes that her daughter will marry well and attract a suitable man), Constantine focuses on the richness of people's internal lives. Here, she does not treat Skeeter according to her appearance; unlike most, she even avoids using Skeeter's nickname, which Skeeter received because she looked unattractive ("long and leggy and mosquito-thin") even as a baby. Constantine transcends social as well as physical veneers; here, she treats Skeeter as an individual, who can choose what she will believe, instead of simply viewing Skeeter as the white child of her employer. 

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Constantine Bates Character Timeline in The Help

The timeline below shows where the character Constantine Bates appears in The Help. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...her own home used by their current maid Pascagoula, Skeeter remembers her beloved childhood maid, Constantine Bates. (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Skeeter remembers growing up under Constantine’s care. One time, Skeeter came home crying after being called ugly at age thirteen. Constantine... (full context)
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Skeeter and Constantine sent each other letters when Skeeter went to college. Weeks before her graduation, Constantine sent... (full context)
Chapter 6
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...and Aibileen quickly dispatches the answers. Before she leaves, Skeeter asks if Aibileen knew why Constantine, a well-known and beloved woman in the black community, would quit and move away. Aibileen... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
Upset about the news that Constantine was fired, Skeeter returns home and asks Charlotte if she fired Constantine. At first, her... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home  Theme Icon
...them, Aibileen tells Skeeter that it’s wrong that she doesn’t know the truth about why Constantine left. Aibileen says her mother, Charlotte Phelan, fired Constantine because of something to do with... (full context)
Chapter 21
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
...desk at home, Skeeter feels ashamed while she types up Hilly’s ad. She worries what Constantine would think of her now. (full context)
Chapter 27
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
...about adding a more personal story. Aibileen agrees to tell Skeeter about what happened with Constantine. She just needs a few days to find the best way of telling her. A... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Aibileen takes a day off of work to meet with Skeeter and tell her Constantine’s story. Twenty years ago, Constantine’s daughter, Lulabelle, was born with very white skin and blonde... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
At home Skeeter reads the story. Right away, she starts writing about Constantine for the book, but she finds that she can’t stand writing about what her mother... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
The next day Skeeter tells Charlotte she knows about everything that happened with Constantine, but that she wants to hear her mother’s side of the story. Feeling judged by... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
...never come to her house again. Lulabelle spits in her face. Charlotte, even angrier, tells Constantine she cannot work in their home if she stays in touch with her daughter. Unwilling... (full context)
Chapter 34
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
...is leaving for New York tomorrow, but with a one-day layover in Chicago to visit Constantine’s grave. Before Skeeter leaves, Aibileen says, “Go to New York, Miss Skeeter. Go find your... (full context)