The Help

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Another narrator and protagonist, Minny Jackson is a wise-cracking mother of five who refuses to curb her outspoken personality even though it gets her into trouble with her white employers. Quick-tempered and fiery, Minny always has a sharp word or a joke on the tip of her tongue, but her tough, sarcastic exterior hides her vulnerability. Minny’s husband Leroy mercilessly beats her, and Miss Hilly tries to ruin her life by spreading racist rumors about her. In spite of all this, Minny remains fiercely determined to provide for children and give them a better life. Spurned by white people her entire life, Minny is suspicious of her white employer Celia Foote, but soon learns of Celia’s compassion and strength. By the end of the novel, they develop a deep, loving friendship that transcends the racial divide.

Minny Jackson Quotes in The Help

The The Help quotes below are all either spoken by Minny Jackson or refer to Minny Jackson . 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 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 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. 

Here’s the thing: I like telling my stories. It feels like I’m doing something about it. When I leave, the concrete in my chest has loosened, melted down so I can breathe for a few days. And I know there are plenty of other “colored” things I could do besides telling my stories or going to....the mass meetings in town, the marches in Birmingham, the voting rallies upstate. But truth is, I don’t care that much about voting. I don’t care about eating at a counter with white people. What I care about is, if in ten years, a white lady will call my girls dirty and accuse them of stealing the silver.

Related Characters: Minny Jackson (speaker), Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan
Page Number: 256
Explanation and Analysis:

When Minny and Aibileen walk home from church one Sunday afternoon, Aibileen asks her to come to that week's "Community Concerns" meeting, only to find out that Minny characteristically spoke up to its organizer at the last meeting and will not be coming to meetings anytime soon. Minny thinks about how much she "needs" to tell Skeeter her stories, though. 

She acknowledges that storytelling feels different from more common, more political actions that bring together the black community. Yet, to Minny, storytelling is more important. It provides Minny with a way to address the everyday racism she encounters in the home, which may seem less important (because it focuses on things like being "dirty" or "clean" and everyday actions like polishing silver) but forms the foundation of many maids' lives (because the simple accusation of stealing silver can make a maid unemployed, poor, and fundamentally stuck). As Minny's reflection reveals, black individuals may not always have the time to work towards change in the typical sense because of their family responsibilities or struggles to earn a living. Simply sharing their experiences might be all they can do, but as The Help suggests, it may be enough.

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.

Chapter 32 Quotes

One time I asked him, “Why? Why are you hitting me?” He leaned down and looked me right in the face.
“If I didn’t hit you, Minny, who knows what you become.” I was trapped in the corner of the bedroom like a dog. He was beating me with his belt. It was the first time I’d ever really thought about it. Who knows what I could become, if Leroy would stop goddamn hitting me.

Related Characters: Minny Jackson (speaker), Leroy Jackson (speaker)
Page Number: 485-486
Explanation and Analysis:

Minny lies besides Leroy early one morning, afraid that he will find out about her role in the writing of the book. He hits her face but does not continue to physically abuse her because she is pregnant. However, Minny remembers the many times she faced more strenuous beatings, including the first time she wondered "what I could become" if her husband would stop abusing her. We see how personal relationships can create individual boundaries, which might be as strong as societal barriers.

This scene also introduces a new perspective on Minny's character. Always the strong woman to the rest of the world, Minny views herself as a far weaker individual. She blames herself for loving her husband and putting up with his alcoholism and abuse. Though The Help generally dwells on other societal forces more than domestic violence, with this scene, it provides an intimate picture of an abused woman. We are invited into the most private places within a home and see Minny's most intimate secrets, which she keeps hidden even as she shares other secrets to the world in the recently published book.

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Minny Jackson Character Timeline in The Help

The timeline below shows where the character Minny Jackson appears in The Help. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
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Aibileen serves the women food and overhears Miss Hilly accuse her mother’s maid Minny Jackson, Aibileen’s best friend, of stealing family heirlooms. Miss Hilly tells them about a sanitation... (full context)
Chapter 2
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...bus from Miss Leefolt’s neighborhood to her own, Aibileen sees a group of maids surrounding Minny, who’s entertaining them with stories of her deaf and crazy employer, Miss Walters. Aibileen sits... (full context)
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...that she’ll only have thirteen dollars to spend on food and other expenses every week. Minny calls and tells her that Miss Hilly is putting her mother into a nursing home... (full context)
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Minny calls Aibileen at work and tells her that Miss Hilly is telling the other white... (full context)
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...run. She also mentions she’s looking for a maid. Aibileen lies and says the maid, Minny Jackson, is available and comes highly recommended from Miss Leefolt and the other neighbors. Celia... (full context)
Chapter 3
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Minny narrates this chapter. Celia Foote’s large mansion is way out in the country. Celia wears... (full context)
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After showing her around, Celia offers Minny the job, but doesn’t know how to go about hiring her. Minny has to tell... (full context)
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Minny remembers when she was fourteen and her mother, who was also a maid, explained the... (full context)
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...– dirty clothes everywhere, rust under the carpets, tons of dust. Celia is friendly, but Minny, suspicious of a white woman’s friendless, bristles at her kindness. At Celia’s request, Minny teaches... (full context)
Chapter 4
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Minny finds Celia’s mansion creepy because it has so many rooms and no children. Celia only... (full context)
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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, a movie... (full context)
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One day while Minny is in the kitchen, she hears the sound of a car coming up the driveway... (full context)
Chapter 10
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On the first day of December, Minny starts to fear what Celia’s husband, Johnny Foote, will do when he finds out she’s... (full context)
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At church one evening, Minny sits besides Aibileen. Aibileen says that she’s thinking about telling Miss Skeeter the truth about... (full context)
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...pale with worry about the approaching day when she has to tell her husband about Minny. One day, she snaps at Minny, telling her to go home early so that she... (full context)
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While Celia is getting her hair done, Minny is cleaning the bedroom when Mister Johnny, holding an axe, walks in. Terrified at what... (full context)
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The revelation that Johnny likes her food and had a maid growing up calms Minny’s fears. Johnny tells her that he’s doesn’t know why Celia has been keeping her a... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...ask them all again. A few days later, Aibileen calls Skeeter to tell her that Minny has agreed to be interviewed. Aibileen says that Minny only has one requirement: Skeeter must... (full context)
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The interview takes places at Aibileen’s house. Aibileen is there to support and encourage Minny who is visibly distrustful of Skeeter. Minny asks why a white woman would want to... (full context)
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Aibileen nods at Skeeter, giving her the okay to begin the interview. Skeeter asks Minny to talk about her experiences working as a maid. The whole time Minny looks at... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Skeeter is in her room typing up some of Minny’s day-to-day experiences when Charlotte knocks on her door and tells her that Stuart Whitworth is... (full context)
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...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 book is... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...knew that something was up. Skeeter says it’s unlikely that Hilly knows about Aibileen or Minny’s involvement since Hilly hasn’t made Elizabeth Leefolt fire her. Aibileen decides to continue working on... (full context)
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...roadblock. The driver tells all the black people to get off. Scared, Aibileen runs to Minny’s nearby home. Minny and her five children are standing around the table, listening to the... (full context)
Chapter 17
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...strikes, making Celia even more housebound. In order to get Celia out of the house, Minny suggests that she cut down the mimosa tree that she hates so much, but Celia... (full context)
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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 to... (full context)
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One day at Celia’s, Minny brings in a large package from the mail. Celia takes it straight to her bedroom.... (full context)
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At lunch, Celia says that she’s lucky to have a friend like Minny. Minny says that they’re not friends and Celia asks if it’s because they’re different races.... (full context)
Chapter 18
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On Monday morning, Minny drives to Celia’s with the plan to apologize. But Celia, who seems ill, lets her... (full context)
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Celia reveals that she was five months pregnant. Minny says that drinking hurts the baby, but Celia responds that she’s doesn’t drink alcohol, only... (full context)
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...knows about her first miscarriage, the one she had soon after getting married. She asks Minny not to tell him about the miscarriages because he wants a baby and she doesn’t... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 23
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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... (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 Celia will fire her... (full context)
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Celia acts normally around Minny, which gives Minny the hope that Hilly hasn’t contacted her yet. In the kitchen, they... (full context)
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While Minny is on the ground bleeding from the reopened cut, Celia comes out and beats the... (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.... (full context)
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The next day, Celia asks Minny why the other women aren’t friendly to her. Trying to follow Aibileen’s advice, Minny tells... (full context)
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...night of the Benefit, Celia dresses in a tight hot-pink dress. As in past years, Minny will be working in the kitchen at the Benefit. Minny knows that most women barely... (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. Hilly has... (full context)
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During the silent auction for the Poor Starving Children of Africa fund, Hilly wins Minny’s famous chocolate-custard pie. For some reason, Hilly seems distressed that she won the pie, thinking... (full context)
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...lot in her old age, but she will always remember what happened between Hilly and Minny’s pie. Hilly calls her mother old and useless and then rushes out of the building. (full context)
Chapter 26
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...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... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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Minny decides to tell Celia about what happened with Hilly and the pie, hoping it will... (full context)
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Minny goes home, bakes a chocolate pie, and then returns to the house and gives it... (full context)
Chapter 27
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That night, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter meet at Aibileen’s to pick a title for the book. Skeeter suggests a... (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 the manuscript, they start worrying about what will happen... (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... (full context)
Chapter 29
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Aibileen and Minny, who’s six months pregnant, go to a church event. When they arrive the whole congregation... (full context)
Chapter 30
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Minny watches the same news program and starts worrying what Miss Hilly will think when she... (full context)
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Mister Johnny says that Minny will always have a job at their home. Minny looks at her own pregnant stomach... (full context)
Chapter 32
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Lying in bed next to her husband Leroy, Minny fears that Leroy is drunk and will beat her. He doesn’t know about the book’s... (full context)
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The next night, Minny dreams of eating at a large feast and suddenly wakes up in the middle of... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...Jackson. Skeeter realizes that Hilly must have read the last chapter. She feels relief that Minny’s plan seems to be working. (full context)
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...implies she’s going to take revenge on Aibileen and that she has “big plans” for Minny. (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 then says she got... (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 white woman who,... (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 Leroy fired. When Leroy came... (full context)