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 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 their wives stare at her with either scorn or stifled laughter. Celia feels overdressed but her husband kisses her and says that she looks gorgeous. Celia tries to get Hilly’s attention, but Hilly keeps avoiding her. Celia keeps drinking.
This is the only time the narrative goes into the third person point of view, and this chapter describes Celia’s experiences rather than that any of the main characters. Stockett may have wanted to narrate Celia’s point of view without the lens of Minny’s opinions about her, or this stylistic decision might just highlight the Benefit event as a climactic scene where all the major characters are gathered together. Johnny shows that he doesn’t care about Celia’s class status. He loves her for her personality, not for the way she dresses.
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 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 to walk away and the sleeve rips.
To cope with her nervousness and feelings of exclusion, Celia drinks heavily, another faux pas in high society that only further excludes her from the rest of the guests. What happened between Hilly and the pie is a mystery that will soon be revealed.
The music suddenly cuts when Celia tells Hilly that Johnny never cheated on her, that she and Johnny only slept together after he and Hilly broke up. People are glaring at Celia. Hilly completely ignores Celia’s attempt at friendship and accuses Celia of signing her up for the pie, but Celia, confused, says she didn’t sign anyone up for any pie. Hilly calls her a liar. Feeling the shame of being called a liar in front of everyone, Celia vomits and rushes to the bathroom.
Celia thinks that honesty will make Miss Hilly like her, but Hilly is too self-centered and concerned about the pie incident to comprehend what Celia is saying. Honest communication requires the participation of both speaker and listener, and Hilly has no interest in communicating with Celia.
At the end of the night, Hilly’s mother, Miss Walters, comes over and says she was the one who bid on the pie. Walters says she may be forgetting a 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.
Hilly normally expresses her cruel personality through off-handed insults, veiled threats, and indirect but devastating attacks on the people’ lives and livelihoods. But whatever happened between Hilly and that pie was been bad enough to make her openly insult her mother, revealing Hilly’s true, hateful nature in public.