often refers to the “bitter seed” that began growing inside of her after the death of her son Treelore
. The seed makes Aibileen less accepting of the white women who treat her like a lesser human being, and she often feels the seed growing every time a white woman humiliates or degrades her. The seed represents how racism can make even the most gentle and compassionate people justifiably bitter. Aibileen uses this bitterness in a productive way, however. The seed gives her the motivation to get back at the white housewives by helping Skeeter
reveal their private lives in the book. If Aibileen stayed the timid, forgiving woman she was before her son’s death, then she would never have had the internal impetus to fight back against oppression and racism in her society. In this way, the bitter seed is a painful but politically beneficial reminder of all that Aibileen has endured in Jackson.