Aibileen is a maid who takes care of children and cleans. Her own year-old son, Treelore, died from an accident on his job. In the story, she is tending the Leefolt household and caring for their toddler, Mae Mobley. Minny is Aibileen's friend who frequently tells her employers what she thinks of them, resulting in her having been fired from nineteen jobs.
Minny's most recent employer was Mrs. Walters, mother of Hilly Holbrook. Skeeter is the daughter of a white family who owns a cotton farm outside Jackson.
Many of the field hands and household help are African Americans. Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from the University of Mississippi and wants to become a writer. Skeeter's mother wants her to get married, and thinks her degree is just a pretty piece of paper.
Skeeter is curious about the disappearance of Constantine, her maid who brought her up and cared for her. Constantine had written to Skeeter while she was away from home in college saying what a great surprise she had awaiting her when she came home.
Skeeter's mother tells her that Constantine quit and went to live with relatives in Chicago. Skeeter does not believe that Constantine would leave her like this; she knows something is wrong and believes that information will eventually come out. Everyone Skeeter asks about the unexpected disappearance of Constantine pretends it never happened and avoids giving her any real answers. The life Constantine led while being the help to the Phelan family leads Skeeter to the realization that her friends' maids are treated very differently from the way the white employees are treated.
She decides with the assistance of a publisher that she wants to reveal the truth about being a colored maid in Mississippi. Skeeter struggles to communicate with the maids and gain their trust.
The dangers of writing a book about African Americans speaking out in the South during the early s hover constantly over the three women. Eventually Skeeter wins Aibileen's trust through a friendship which develops while Aibileen helps Skeeter write a household tips column for the local newspaper.
These chapters also show that Aibileen thinks Elizabeth Leefolt is too skinny and too unhappy to be a good mother; and that Baby Girl has a dangerous devotion to Aibileen. Baby Girl fears her mother's impatience and runs to Aibileen for comfort. This foreshadows events where Baby Girl sees herself as belonging more to Aibileen than her own kind. These chapters reveal the truth of what black maids think of their white employers, which is not much.
Aibileen relays events that show their employers to be unreasonable and unfair to their help. Black maids are often accused of stealing and helpless to defend themselves.
Their personal lives are secondary to the demands of the white family. A white woman can fire the help at will and use her friends and influence to destroy a black maid's life. Aibileen also blames the white men at the lumber mill for her son's death because they didn't get help quickly enough.
This shows that the racial prejudice runs both ways. Tension between Skeeter and Hilly is also revealed in these chapters. They've been lifelong friends, but their relationship had changed ever since Skeeter left for college. Skeeter is truly interested in knowing their stories and sharing them with the world.
The first person Skeeter interviews is Aibileen. Aibileen is reluctant at best but agrees to help Skeeter with the project. The relationship grows between the two women until they become good friends. Minny is the next person to come on board to work on the project. Soon the story becomes a book and Skeeter struggles to get people to help amid all of the turmoil happening around them, including the deaths of Medgar Evers and JFK.
Things in Skeeter's life are not a bed of roses, either. Her mother is dying, her prominent boyfriend withdraws his marriage proposal and Skeeter learns that her maid and lifelong friend has died.
When the book hits the stores the town is in an uproar. Aibileen is fired, Minny might be leaving her abusive husband, and Skeeter accepts a job in New York. A real hornet's next has been stirred up by these brave women and Jackson will never be the same.
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The Help, Kathryn Stockett's debut novel, tells the story of black maids working in white Southern homes in the early s in Jackson, Mississippi, and of Miss Eugenia "Skeeter" Phelan, a year-old graduate from Ole Miss, who returns to her family's cotton plantation, Longleaf, to find that her.
The Help book summary & chapter summaries of The Help novel.
The Help study guide contains a biography of Kathryn Stockett, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis. The Help by Kathryn Stockett is a novel about black maids in Jackson, Mississippi, in The black maids work with Skeeter Phelan, a white woman, to create a book depicting their lives. The.
Summary and reviews of The Help by Kathryn Stockett, plus links to a book excerpt from The Help and author biography of Kathryn Stockett. The Help Chapter 1 summary. Brief summary of Chapter 1 in The Help book.