The Help


Kathryn Stockett

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The Help: Chapter 16 Summary & Analysis

At Aibileen’s all-black church, the community meets to pray for Medgar Evers. Aibileen sits behind Yule May, a college-educated maid who works for Miss Hilly. Aibileen hasn’t asked Yule May to contribute her stories because anyone attached to Miss Hilly makes her nervous.
Aibileen is still frightened by Hilly’s potential to do her harm. As Aibileen slowly finds her voice and realizes her power to affect change, she will stop fearing Hilly and gain the strength to take her on directly.
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At the meeting, a young black man barges into the room. His hands balled into fists, he asks how the community is going to respond to the fact that black men are being shot like dogs in the street. When the preacher says pray, the man stomps off. Yule May just shakes her head.
Yule May’s reaction is ambiguous. She could be shaking her head in shame over the young man’s outburst, or in sympathy with him at how little she thinks the black community has done to fight racially-motivated violence.
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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 writing herself. Yule May says she knows about what Aibileen has been doing with the white woman but says she can’t afford helping her right now since she is about to send her twin boys off to college. Aibileen says she understands and Yule May responds that they should talk again in private, which gives Aibileen hope that she will help. Aibileen smiles and mutters to herself, not caring that everyone in church will think she’s crazy.
Yule May’s suggestion that they talk in private indicates that she probably agreed with the young man’s frustration about the lack of political activism in the black community. Aibileen’s muttering might make the congregants think she’s crazy – but it’s really her risky decision to speak out against her employers that makes her seem “crazy.”
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