The Help

Aibileen Clark Character Analysis

One of the novel’s three narrators, Aibileen is a wise but reserved middle-aged black maid who takes pride in knowing that she has helped raise seventeen white children in her lifetime. Aibileen cares the most about two people in this world: her best friend Minny Jackson and Mae Mobley, the white girl she raises over the course of novel. As the novel’s moral compass, Aibileen is a warm, compassionate woman who bears racial oppression with a quiet resilience. Aibileen has the uncanny ability to see the good in any person, but the death of her son Treelore causes a “bitter seed” to grow inside her that makes her less tolerant of racist housewives like her employer Miss Leefolt and Leefolt’s friend Miss Hilly. This bitterness prompts her to help Miss Skeeter reveal the truth about how these women treat their maids. Her moral principles and desire to hold Jackson accountable for its oppression of black domestic workers then gives her the strength to continue working on the project, despite the dangers threatening her.

Aibileen Clark Quotes in The Help

The The Help quotes below are all either spoken by Aibileen Clark or refer to Aibileen Clark. 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 numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Berkley Books edition of The Help published in 2009.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Taking care a white babies, that’s what I do, along with all the cooking and the cleaning. I done raised seventeen kids in my lifetime. I know how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker)
Related Symbols: Bathrooms
Page Number: 1
Explanation and Analysis:

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Got to be the worst place in the world, inside a oven. You in here, you either cleaning or you getting cooked. Tonight I just know I’m on have that dream I’m stuck inside and the gas gets turned on. But I keep my head in that awful place cause I’d rather be anywhere sides answering Miss Leefolt’s questions about what Miss Skeeter was trying to say to me. Asking do I want to change things.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan, Elizabeth Leefolt
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 2 Quotes

I put the iron down real slow, feel that bitter seed grow in my chest, the one planted after Treelore died. My face goes hot, my tongue twitchy. I don’t know what to say to her. All I know is, I ain’t saying it. And I know she ain’t saying what she want a say either and it’s a strange thing happening here cause nobody saying nothing and we still managing to have us a conversation.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Elizabeth Leefolt, Treelore
Related Symbols: Bathrooms, The Bitter Seed
Page Number: 35
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 7 Quotes

I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty ain't a color, disease ain't the negro side of town. I want to stop that moment from coming – and it come in every white child's life – when they start to think that colored folks are not as good as whites.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Mae Mobley Leefolt
Related Symbols: Bathrooms
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 8 Quotes

Aibileen just stood there and I wished I wasn’t in the room. Please, I thought, please don’t say thank you.
“Yes ma’am.” Aibileen opened a drawer and reached inside, but Hilly kept looking at her. It was so obvious what she wanted.
Another second passed with no one moving. Hilly cleared her throat and finally Aibileen lowered her head. “Thank you, ma’am,” she whispered. She walked back into the kitchen. It’s no wonder she doesn’t want to talk to me.

Related Characters: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (speaker), Aibileen Clark, Hilly Holbrook
Page Number: 129
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.


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:

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Chapter 11 Quotes

On my drive home, I want to kick myself. For thinking I could just waltz in and demand answers. For thinking she’d stop feeling like the maid just because we were at her house, because she wasn’t wearing a uniform.

Related Characters: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (speaker), Aibileen Clark
Page Number: 170
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 13 Quotes

I realize, like a shell cracking open in my head, there’s no difference between these government laws and Hilly building Aibileen a bathroom in the garage, except ten minutes’ worth of signatures in the state capital.

Related Characters: Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan (speaker), Aibileen Clark, Hilly Holbrook
Page Number: 203
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

I feel my lip curling. A course we different! Everbody know colored people and white people ain’t the same. But we still just people! Shoot, I even been hearing Jesus had colored skin living out there in the desert. I press my lips together.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt
Page Number: 218
Explanation and Analysis:

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But this bag is different. Even what would fit me in that paper sack, I can’t wear. Can’t give to my friends either. Ever piece in that bag—the culotte pants, the shirt with the Peter Pan collar, the pink jacket with the gravy stain on it, even the socks—they all got the letters H.W.H. sewn in. Red thread, pretty little cursive letters. I reckon Yule May had to sew them letters. Wearing those, I’d feel like I’s personal-owned property a Hilly W. Holbrook.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Yule May
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

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After while, my mind done drifted to where I wish it wouldn’t. I reckon I know pretty well what would happen if the white ladies found out we was writing about them, telling the truth a what they really like. Womens, they ain’t like men. A woman ain’t gone beat you with a stick. Miss Hilly wouldn’t pull no pistol on me. Miss Leefolt wouldn’t come burn my house down.
No, white womens like to keep they hands clean. They got a shiny little set a tools they use, sharp as witches’ fingernails, tidy and laid out neat, like the picks on a dentist tray. They gone take they time with em.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt
Page Number: 220
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 34 Quotes

I walk out the back door, to the terrible sound a Mae Mobley crying again. I start down the driveway, crying too, knowing how much I’m on miss Mae Mobley, praying her mama can show her more love. But at the same time feeling, in a way, that I’m free…Freer than Miss Leefolt, who so locked up in her own head she don’t even recognize herself when she read it. And freer than Miss Hilly. That woman gone spend the rest a her life trying to convince people she didn’t eat that pie. I think about Yule May setting in jail. Cause Miss Hilly, she in her own jail, but with a lifelong term.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker), Hilly Holbrook, Elizabeth Leefolt, Mae Mobley Leefolt, Yule May
Related Symbols: Minny’s “Special Ingredient” Pie
Page Number: 521
Explanation and Analysis:

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The sun is bright but my eyes is wide open. I stand at the bus stop like I been doing for forty-odd years. In thirty minutes, my whole life’s . . . done. Maybe I ought to keep writing, not just for the paper, but something else, about all the people I know and the things I seen and done. Maybe I ain’t too old to start over, I think and I laugh and cry at the same time at this. Cause just last night I thought I was finished with everthing new.

Related Characters: Aibileen Clark (speaker)
Page Number: 522
Explanation and Analysis:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est

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Aibileen Clark Character Timeline in The Help

The timeline below shows where the character Aibileen Clark appears in The Help. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
It is August 1962 in Jackson, Mississippi and Aibileen Clark, a 53-year-old African American housemaid, narrates her experience working in white households. She has... (full context)
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Aibileen remembers losing her own son, Treelore, two years earlier. At twenty-four, Treelore was writing a... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Aibileen resents Miss Leefolt for taking pleasure in telling her what to do. Miss Leefolt lives... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Aibileen serves the women food and overhears Miss Hilly accuse her mother’s maid Minny Jackson, Aibileen’s... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
After Miss Hilly and Miss Walters leave, Aibileen finds Miss Skeeter waiting for her in the kitchen. She asks Aibileen if she ever... (full context)
Chapter 2
Racism Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
Aibileen explains that in Jackson white families live in nice neighborhoods, but the black families have... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Social Class Theme Icon
Two days after the talk about the bathroom, Aibileen arrives at work where Mister Raleigh Leefolt (Miss Leefolt’s husband) is yelling at Miss Leefolt... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
That evening, Aibileen realizes that increases in bus fare and rent means that she’ll only have thirteen dollars... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Social Class Theme Icon
...and Miss Leefolt to pick her up and slap her hard against the leg. When Aibileen picks her up to console and protect her from her mother, Mae Mobley hits her... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
...next day, a woman named Celia Foote calls the Miss Leefolt’s residence and speaks to Aibileen. She wants to join the Children’s Benefit, an organization Miss Leefolt helps run. She also... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Social Class Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
The bathroom is ready by the next afternoon. Miss Leefolt tells Aibileen, who feels the bitter seed growing in her chest, that she should be happy that... (full context)
Chapter 6
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
...mental breakdown. With no housecleaning experience, Skeeter goes to Elizabeth’s house to ask her maid, Aibileen, for advice on common cleaning problems. Elizabeth agrees to let them talk the next morning... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
The next morning, Skeeter reads Aibileen a few of the housekeeping questions that people have sent to the newspaper and Aibileen... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
On a day when Elizabeth is out of the house, Skeeter returns to Aibileen for more advice. With Elizabeth out, Aibileen feels more comfortable speaking openly about herself and... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Feeling a small connection develop between them, Aibileen tells Skeeter that it’s wrong that she doesn’t know the truth about why Constantine left.... (full context)
Chapter 7
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
It’s late October and Aibileen finds the bathroom in the carport a cold and isolating place. After witnessing Miss Leefolt... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
While shopping at the white supermarket with Mae Mobley, Aibileen runs into another maid and friend who tells her that two white men beat Robert... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Returning home from work, Aibileen sees Miss Skeeter waiting for her on her porch. Tired and distraught from the day’s... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Aibileen tells Skeeter it’s too dangerous – black people in Jackson get killed for just going... (full context)
Chapter 8
Racism Theme Icon
Driving back from Aibileen’s, Skeeter feels the “narrow eyes” of Aibileen’s black neighbors watch her fancy Cadillac car as... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
A few days later, Skeeter arrives at Elizabeth’s to ask Aibileen more questions about housekeeping. After a few questions, Skeeter brings out an envelope full of... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Help vs. Hypocrisy Theme Icon
...for the product to take effect, she remembers going to Elizabeth’s house with Hilly. When Aibileen had brought them coffee, Hilly asked Aibileen demeaning, rhetorical questions about the bathroom like, “It’s... (full context)
Chapter 9
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
Two days after the date, Aibileen calls Skeeter’s home and asks what guarantee she has that Skeeter won’t turn on her... (full context)
Chapter 10
Racism Theme Icon
Gender and the Home Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
At church one evening, Minny sits besides Aibileen. Aibileen says that she’s thinking about telling Miss Skeeter the truth about what’s it like... (full context)
Chapter 11
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
At Aibileen’s home, Skeeter interviews her in a small parlor room while Aibileen serves tea. Skeeter has... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
During the interview, Skeeter asks Aibileen what she doesn’t like about her job. Beginning to sweat heavily, Aibileen is terrified to... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
A few days later, Skeeter gets a call from Aibileen. Aibileen says that she wants to write down her experiences as a maid and then... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Skeeter returns to Aibileen’s for the second interview. To make Aibileen more comfortable, Skeeter asks to sit in the... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
Aibileen takes out a notebook and starts reading the story she wrote about raising her first... (full context)
Chapter 12
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
Every other night for two weeks, Skeeter goes to Aibileen’s to hear Aibileen read her stories. Skeeter realizes that Aibileen’s clear, honest style of writing... (full context)
Racism Theme Icon
Writing, Storytelling, and Freedom Theme Icon
After a few meetings, Aibileen asks Skeeter to check out some classic works of literature from the white library so... (full context)
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That evening, Skeeter informs Aibileen that Elaine said that they need twelve more maids if they want the book published.... (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.... (full context)
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Aibileen nods at Skeeter, giving her the okay to begin the interview. Skeeter asks Minny to... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...already peeked 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... (full context)
Chapter 14
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...in a plastic kid’s pool at the Leefolt’s. Miss Leefolt is a few months pregnant. Aibileen is surprised to see that Miss Hilly, normally such an unkind woman, is a very... (full context)
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Miss Hilly turns away from Aibileen and starts telling Miss Leefolt that her husband is running for office and she can’t... (full context)
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At her home, Aibileen sees a bag of old clothing Miss Hilly gave her, ones she’ll never wear because... (full context)
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Aibileen tries to write down her prayers, but she cannot stop thinking about what Hilly would... (full context)
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Skeeter calls Aibileen and tells her about Hilly going through her satchel. Aibileen responds that she already knew... (full context)
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Aibileen is coming home from work late one night when the bus stops at a police... (full context)
Chapter 15
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One afternoon, Mae Mobley asks Aibileen to tell her a story before her nap. Tired of reading her the usual stories,... (full context)
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...Hilly invites Miss Leefolt and her child to the fancy country club. Miss Leefolt brings Aibileen so that Aibileen can watch Mae Mobley. Miss Leefolt doesn’t belong to the club because... (full context)
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...her husband is never going to get elected. But after Skeeter steals a glance at Aibileen, she realizes she must make up with Hilly or else Hilly will continue to investigate... (full context)
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...walks back to the tennis court. Among all the smiles and laughter at the pool, Aibileen and Skeeter look at each other and think the same thing: are they fools to... (full context)
Chapter 16
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At Aibileen’s all-black church, the community meets to pray for Medgar Evers. Aibileen sits behind Yule May,... (full context)
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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... (full context)
Chapter 17
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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... (full context)
Chapter 19
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That night, Skeeter goes to Aibileen’s where her church has gathered to pray for Yule May. They have started a fund... (full context)
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Over the next few days, Skeeter interviews the women at Aibileen’s. Aibileen sits beside the women while they talk, giving them the confidence to tell their... (full context)
Chapter 22
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On Mae Mobley’s third birthday, Aibileen prepares her a special breakfast while Miss Leefolt is off getting her hair done. Mae... (full context)
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...they’re doing this for Skeeter’s own safety because there are real racists out there. When Aibileen later tells Skeeter about all this, Skeeter shrugs it off, saying she doesn’t care what... (full context)
Chapter 23
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Aibileen tells Mae Mobley a “secret story” about a wise alien named Martian Luther King who... (full context)
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During one of Elizabeth Leefolt’s bridge games, Aibileen opens the door for Celia Foote. She’s come to ask Miss Leefolt about working for... (full context)
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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 she never recommended Minny. Hilly say she’ll get to the... (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... (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. Minny comments that... (full context)
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...day, Celia asks Minny why the other women aren’t friendly to her. Trying to follow Aibileen’s advice, Minny tells her it’s because they think she’s a white trash hick who stole... (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.... (full context)
Chapter 27
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At Aibileen’s, Skeeter tells her what Stein said about adding a more personal story. Aibileen agrees to... (full context)
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That night, Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter meet at Aibileen’s to pick a title for the book. Skeeter suggests... (full context)
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Aibileen takes a day off of work to meet with Skeeter and tell her Constantine’s story.... (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... (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 house will... (full context)
Chapter 29
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From the kitchen of Miss Leefolt’s, Aibileen watches Mae Mobley plays with her newborn brother, Ross, who is only a few months... (full context)
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From inside the black church, Aibileen watches Skeeter drop a brown package at the steps of the church and walk away.... (full context)
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Aibileen and Minny, who’s six months pregnant, go to a church event. When they arrive the... (full context)
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...program that is going to review the book may change all that. At Miss Leefolt’s, Aibileen turns on the television to watch the program in the living room while she irons.... (full context)
Chapter 31
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Aibileen sees the book on Miss Leefolt’s nightstand and worries each time Leefolt’s bookmark inches closer... (full context)
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The next day, Aibileen sees that Leefolt has already read past the second chapter. Since she doesn’t treat Aibileen... (full context)
Chapter 33
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...a scream. Skeeter wants to get out of Mississippi but she doesn’t want to leave Aibileen and the rest of the maids to deal with the fallout from the book’s publication.... (full context)
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...she decides not to give her the letter. She tells Skeeter that she knows that Aibileen told stories about Elizabeth Leefolt because of a small, identifying detail she included about Elizabeth’s... (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... (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... (full context)
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...imaginary diner, and not move no matter what she does to him – a game Aibileen played with Mae Mobley to teach her about civil rights. Her father, Raleigh, hears them... (full context)
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One night a few days later, Skeeter arrives at Aibileen’s to say goodbye before she flies out to New York tomorrow. It’s the first time... (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... (full context)
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While Aibileen is at work at the Leefolt’s the next day, Hilly and Miss Leefolt call Aibileen... (full context)
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Miss Leefolt fires Aibileen but Hilly says it’s not worth pressing charges. Aibileen leaves the house and feels as... (full context)