The Help


Kathryn Stockett

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The Help: Chapter 31 Summary & Analysis

Aibileen sees the book on Miss Leefolt’s nightstand and worries each time Leefolt’s bookmark inches closer to the second chapter – the one about her. When Miss Hilly comes over one day, Aibileen overhears her saying that she’s up to chapter seven and thinks that the book is about Jackson. She says she’ll hunt out which maids gossiped about the families. Aibileen hopes that Hilly will get to the last chapter soon.
Stockett ramps up the tension as the climax of the book approaches, raising questions of whether Miss Leefolt will recognize herself as the white woman in chapter two and fire Aibileen, and whether Miss Hilly will get to the last chapter before she has a chance to ruin the lives of the maids.
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The next day, Aibileen sees that Leefolt has already read past the second chapter. Since she doesn’t treat Aibileen any differently, Aibileen realizes that Leefolt must not know that the chapter is about her. When Mae Mobley comes home crying a few days later, she tells Aibileen that her teacher yelled at her for drawing a picture of herself with a black crayon. The teacher told her that black means dirty and, if she draws herself that way, then that means she’s dirty too. Aibileen consoles her, but worries that Mae Mobley will soon start acting like all the other white people who treat black people as being lesser than whites.
Mae Mobley’s tears show that there is a war being waged inside of her between her respect for Aibileen and the societal pressure to see black people as lesser-than. If Mae Mobley stays true to Aibileen’s teachings and refuses to conform to society’s racist norms, then she too risks becoming an outsider of sorts. The irony here is that Mae Mobley’s teacher teaches the untruths of hate and racist stereotypes, while Aibileen, an uneducated maid, teaches her more important and truthful lessons.
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