Minny is 17 years younger than Aibileen. A lady like Aibileen is lucky to have a friend like Minny. What Minny lacked in her smart mouth, she made up for with being a good cook. Even w/ her love of the Lord, after her husband, Clyde, left her for a no-good hussy down the street, Aibileen was DONE w/ men. After her son, Treelore's death, Aibileen was taken care of by Minnie for 3 months, as a best friend would be. Minnie had caught/saved Aibileen from an attempted suicide after her son's death. The little girl, Mae Mobley, that Aibileen cares for, sees her as a MOMMY more than her own. After Treelore's death, a bitter seed implanted within Aibileen grew in her chest.
In the meeting between Ms. Minny Jackson and Celia Foote, Minny is met by a Marilyn Monroe-esque built white woman w/ flour in her hair from "trying" to make a recipe. Minny walked into the kitchen w/ a "What in the hell?" expression on her face. At the end of the interview, Celia asked to be taught how to cook. She/Celia wanted her husband, Johnny, to think she could do the housework on her own. Johnny worked ALOT at a real estate office. From then on, Minny Jackson is there for Celia and Celia is there for Minny.
Working these hours for Celia, Minny got to see her kids off to school in the morning and be w/ them in the afternoon; something she WASN'T ABLE TO working previously for Ms. Hilly Holbrook. Before Minny, Celia would "cover" her duties as a wife for Johnny. She would buy clean shirts to make up for laundry. She would hide dirty clothes that weren't washed in months. Use rugs to cover up dirt on the floor. It made Minny shudder. With all of her shortcomings as a wife, Celia was EXTREMELY GRATEFUL to have Minny around with her. Since there weren't any children to tend to, along w/ her daily household work, Minny also took time giving Celia cooking lessons. Since Celia NEVER entertains, anything she cooks is for dineer for her and her husband.
EVERY payday, Minny gave Celia the countdown until she HAD to tell Johnny about her working for them. The way Celia STARES at Minny w/ big eyes like she's the BEST thing that ever happened make Minny uncomfortable and uneasy. Minny gives Celia tips on how to make it seem obvious that Celia was responsible for the housework.
Skeeter Phelan and Hilly Holbrook have been best friends since elementary school. When they were college roommates, Hilly left school to get married while Skeeter stayed on to graduate. Skeeter's name originated in thanks to her older brother, Carlton, when she was born. The name sort of stuck. Her given name at birth was Eugenia. She began smoking cigarettes at the age of 14. Skeeter'd steal them from Carlton's dresser drawer. Growing up, Skeeter always felt her maid at the time, Constantine, to be more of a mother to her than her own, Charlotte.When Skeeter went off to college, she felt free, off the farm and away from criticism.
Through the use of letters, Skeeter and Constantine wrote once a week. The last letter that Skeeter received from her, Constantine, was close to final exams. Skeeter skipped her graduation ceremony. When Skeeter got home, she received notice that Constantine was no longer employed by her family. Skeeter felt abandoned.
In a letter from publishers addressed to Skeeter, they advised that she go to her local newspaper and get an entry level job. They also advised her in the letter to write what bothers her, particularly no one else. Skeeter made a list and works on it the very next day. After the interview, Skeeter walks away with a job as an advice columnist answering letters addressed as/to "Ms. Myrna". Skeeter was ecstatic. Considering it was a cleaning advice column and Eugenia/Skeeter didn't know how much, but she needed help with the column. She goes the next day to a neighbor/friend. After hanging out for awhile, Skeeter asked Elizabeth for permission to have Aibileen's help with the letters. Skeeter was GRATEFUL for Aibileen's help and Aibileen was happy to do it. Every week, sometimes twice a week, Skeeter stops at Aibileen's work to talk to her. But she never stops in the process.
During and off the interview time, Skeeter is ALWAYS wanting ANY information reguarding her old maid, Constantine. Aibileen finally asks why Skeeter got the job as "Ms. Myrna", not disrespectfully, only because Skeeter doesn't know a thing about housekeeping? Aibileen brings up her son, which Skeeter didn't know existed or died. She chokes up talking about Treelore. Skeeter seen a different side of Aibileen at that point. Skeeter receives a letter from her publishing company after heading home. It stated "she needed more captivating and enlightening subjects to peruse in her writings". It dims her spirits and goes into her regular writings, she suddenly gets an idea after hearing a knock from the maid at her door, that WILL NOT go away.
With her situations, outside of Minny and the other maids, the ONLY person that Aibileen feels to let her guard down and BE HERSELF is Skeeter. After a long day at work, Aibileen is met at her own home by Skeeter. She/Skeeter proposed something to write about . . . . w Aibileen's help. Skeeter waned to interview Aibileen and other maids about what it's like working for white families, on the condition that the families didn't know. Hilly had become interested in Skeeter's dating life. She began trying to set her up w/ a date. Eventually Hilly suggested Stuart Whitworth, her husband, William's, second cousin. Skeeter's initial reaction was a NO!, but agreed to the date to get Hilly off her back. On the ACTUAL double date w/ all 4 of them, Skeeter notices that Stuart is craning his neck to stare at a woman who is at the door of the restaurant. A busty blonde, red lipstick and a green dress. The date, you could say, ends on a rather low note.
The next morning, Aibileen contacts Skeeter informing her that she may not like what she has to say regarding white people. Aibileen was SCARED to talk to Skeeter. What convinced Aibileen to OFFICIALLY talk . . . . Ms. Hilly Holbrook. Minny is nervous about December 24TH. That's the day Celia's husband, Johnny, was to find out about Minny's employment. Outside of that stress, what-else scared Minny was the aftermath of Celia's cooking lessons. Almost 3 months in and Celia still can't boil coffee. The reason that Celia is hated in the town she/everyone else resides in thanks to Ms. Hilly. Johnny dumped Hilly for Celia back in college. Something Hilly NEVER got over.
It seems that Minny STRESSES and constantly worries about the countdown for when her employment may be terminated, after Celia tells Johnny the truth. Minny loves Aibileen, but she thinks Aibileen is making a king-sized mistake trusting a white lady. When the TRUTH comes out, in a more surprising manner, Johnny informs Minny he hasn't had that GOOD of cooking since he was a kid. In the end of the meeting w/ Celia and Mr. Johnny, all he wants is for Minny to look after Celia. He didn't want her in a big house all by herself. Mr. Johnny even gives Minny his office number if she was ever in any trouble.
Even though the meeting is at Aibileen's home, she is a NERVOUS WRECK answering Skeeter's questions. Her nerves make Aibileen LITERALLY sick. After working out the kinks, Aibileen and Skeeter see this might actually work. After reviewing the work Aibileen had written, Skeeter seen it as clear and honest. Skeeter even tells her so. In her stories, Aibileen makes a cross-connection bringing up Constantine within the story. Skeeter asks Aibileen to see if she could get other maids to join along w/ interviews, to see if she has any luck in their participation. Skeeter had to learn to let Aibileen take her time after seeing her vomit on herself. After learning that she wanted to brush up on her reading, Skeeter volunteered to go to the library and check books out for Aibileen. She/Aibileen quickly comes back w/ a list. The first one she wanted was the CLASSICS 'To Kill A Mockingbird' and 'Huckleberry Finn'. Aibileen admits to longing to asking Skeeter for this favor due to fear of Skeeter rejecting. Skeeter admitted to being one who doesn't follow society's rules (Obviously!)
Even though she SAID it on paper, Aibileen couldn't believe what was to be ON PAPER in the book. Skeeter is surprised herself by some of these stories. After she OFFICIALLY sends her work to her boss, Ms. Stein, for approval, Skeeter stresses over what will happen. She falls asleep and has nightmares. Since she sent the stories off, now when she is with Elizabeth or Hilly, Skeeter can't help but see these women in a different light then she had before, thanks to the stories from Aibileen and others. Skeeter has been to Aibileen twice since sending the stories, both times to trade library books and Aibileen has been more comfortable, less on edge, more casual. When Skeeter checks in w/ Ms. Stein in NY, she finds out that they want her work/interviews ready for publish by New Years. They liked what she had sent and they will publish if she turns it in by the deadline. Skeeter has 4 or 5 interviews completed, but she needs a dozen for a full book. After the book exchange w/ Aibileen, Skeeter makes a list that night of EVERYONE she knows w/ a maid, as well as the name of their maid. The situation lies that the maids were TOO SCARED. Aibileen asks Skeeter to not give up give up on this project.
Meanwhile, Skeeter is still working and getting paid for the 'Ms. Myrna' letters. Skeeter quickly answers a ringing phone w/ Aibileen on the line. Aibileen tells her that Minny will do it. Skeeter agrees to ANY conditions Minny had lain. In a librarial exchange for Aibileen, Skeeter, came across, on a History Room near Civil War books, a booklet. A booklet bound w/ staples A Compilation Of Jim Crow Laws Of The South. The laws were just citing the facts. Skeeter put the book in her bag, stealing it and RUNS out of the library. At that moment, Skeeter realizes just how different everything is between Elizabeth, Hilly & herself. On her way to Aibileen's, Skeeter was pulled over and questioned. She managed to use Constantine as an excuse to get away. It scared her after she got far. She parked even farther down the block. When she got to Aibileen's, she shook real bad for the first hour. She couldn't read the questions FOR Minny. After a meeting w/ Hilly and the other ladies, Skeeter accidentally leaves her materials w/ the notes from the interviews inside. Skeeter NERVOUSLY presses her mom to take her since she was leaving anyway. Skeeter rushed to Hilly's and managed to pick up her things. QUICKLY before Hilly had a chance a thing.
|Myrlie & Medgar|
When Minny is at home, she's fearful her husband, Leroy, will catch wind of what's going on w/ Ms. Skeeter. Frying chicken always makes her feel better about life. Skeeter, at this time, since her return home, has been trying for information regarding the whereabouts of her her former maid from childhood, Constantine. No one would tell her anything. By this time, Minny's stories are typed, done & completed. Skeeter and her new beau, Stuart, have been courting for 2 months now, if you exclude the screwed-up first date. He offers her a chance to get away for awhile. She considers it; something Elizabeth or Hilly WOULD NEVER have never considered before marriage. She politely declines and he accepts the same. The next morning, the maid in the house, Pascagoula, brings her coffee. At that point, Skeeter wonders how many orders and preferences Pascagoula had memorized throughout her time. When Skeeter GENUINELY thanks her, Pascagoula seems uncomfortable. In the news at this time, there's a new pill out called "Valium - to help women cope w/ everyday challenges". In private, Pascagoula informs Skeeter that Yule Mae is her cousin. Their both willing to help Skeeter w/ her stories and talk. This was actually Pascagoula's FIRST job working domestic. No one else would work for Skeeter's mother. Not after what happened to Constantine.
Pascagoula hands Skeeter a letter quietly. It was from Yule May explaining her reasons why she couldn't participate in the book and interview like the others. She also explained that to make up for her children to BOTH attend college, she stole a ruby ring, but was eventually busted. All of the money she and her husband saved to send them to school was used for court fines. The letter came from where Yule may had been staying - Mississippi State Penn. The letter makes Skeeter nervous and sick. Skeeter goes to dad to see if he can do anything to help Yule May. Hilly was good friends w/ a judges's wife. She managed to have Yule May be sentenced to 4 years. The trial ended before it even began.
Aibileen and and Yule May's churches got together and are sending both boys off to school. One GOOD thing came out of Yule May's arrest . . . . . EVERY SINGLE MAID IN TOWN is helping w/ Skeeter's stories. Minny has made this happen. That makes the official count at 13, minus Minny and Aibileen. Aibileen prepares Skeeter before each interview. Some of these stories are BOTH SHOCKING AND SCARY. All 10 women who interviewed have asked that the money they earn go toward Yule May's boys' education.
While at a dinner w/ Stuart's family and hers as well, Skeeter begins to wonder what secrets - if any - she could come upon if interviewing the Senator's help. When Skeeter goes to the bathroom, she exits running into the Senator WASTED. Skeeter CAN'T STAND it and is dying to leave the room. Stuart initially confessed to the reason his last relationship ACTUALLY ended. He had to end it thanks to his dad. Stuart feels uncomfortable enough to end his relationship w/ Skeeter . . . . needing space.
Charlotte's health has been worsening. Sometimes it's the air, sometimes she's lying down in bed. They keep the house air conditioned. She's trying to keep her vomiting quiet and under wraps. She's worsening in color and tries to sit-up longer than she should. Even though it's August, the book is typed and almost book like and isn't due until January. The responsibility of the book project falls solely on Skeeter. She can see it within their faces how much Aibileen and the others want it published. Ever since she was pulled over by the cop, Skeeter has been PETRIFIED making the trip to Aibileen's. While at a meeting with the other ladies, Skeeter almost leaves when she is stopped by Hilly to wonder why her initiative hasn't been published in their newsletter. What Skeeter has held in for MONTHS suddenly erupts. "She WAS NOT printing that initiative." The conversation gets heated but Skeeter walks away the better person.
Mae Mobley is now 3 years old. Her mother, Miss Leefolt, is nowhere around and doesn't care to be when her child wakes up on her birthday. Aibileen uses Mae Mobley's breakfast as a chance to celebrate her birthday. After blowing out her birthday/breakfast candle, Mae Mobley cutely asks Aibleen her age. Her reply makes Mae Mobley's eyes widen as if Aibileen may as well be 1,000 years old. Their Q/A's confuses Mae Mobley. Eventually Ms. Leefolt's husband asks Aibileen if she was sticking around to help Elizabeth w/ the new baby his wife was expecting. Something that is Aibileen's specialty - Babues. She replies a Yes! Her talking to her is making Aibileen nervous. It's the most he's talked to her in 3 years employment. Ms. Leefolt instructs Aibileen not to speak to Skeeter AT ALL for ANYTHING. Later that night, at Aibileen's Skeeter is informed by Aibileen what happened earlier that day. Skeeter thanks her and GENUINELY appreciates the concern.
Summer rolls on and EVERYONE in the nation is watching Martin Luther King deliver his "I Have A Dream" speech. When Aibileen tells Mae Mobley stories, her favorite ones involve aliens, because Mae Mobley's favorite TV Show is 'My Favorite Martian'.' Intermixing M.L.K within her story. Aibileen and Mae Mobley tell their "secret stories". When Minny is at work at Celia's, she's NERVOUSly paranoid because she talked to Skeeter the night before. When Hilly calls Celia, Minny answers the phone. Minny's blood drains out of her face. Quickly she thinks and uses her sister, Doreena's, name. She tries to lie her way through it and isn't any good. It is HOT, HUMID & MUGGY in summer heat. Minny asked Skeeter to befriend Celia, to steer her away from the other ladies. Now it's the night of the Jackson Junior League Annual Ball. When Celia arrives, she feels abit overdressed. She acknowledges it and Johnny states quietly that he tried to warn her w/ comfort in his voice. Skeeter is an attendant at the Benefit and notices Elizabeth, who had just had her baby a month ago.
At the Benefit, as soon as Celia disappears into the ladies room, Hilly chats it up a few minutes w/ her ex, Johnny. She delivers an "indirect dig" for how he came to meet Celia. Celia was practically the only interesting thing to happen all night. The next morning, Saturday, Minny walks into the kitchen and spots her daughter counting the money she earned from the Benefit the previous night. $9.50. The phone rings and it's Johnny. He called to say that Celia's real upset, because of the rough time at the party. He wanted Minny to keep an eye on Celia next week and to look after her. After hearing the phone conversation, Minny's daughter began to joke. Her mom stopped her and began to defend Celia. From Sat.-Wed., Celia had been in a COMPLETE depressive state, reliving the events and the way she was treated at the Benefit. Hilly had accused Celia of something she TRULY didn't do at the Benefit. It was more than that, but it sent Celia into a DEPRESSION. She wants/decides to go back to where she's from, Sugar Ditch. Minny seeing Celia in this state did something she SWORE she would NEVER tell ANYONE.
After being fired from Hilly's and NO ONE wanting her services, Hilly informed EVERYONE that Minny was "a sass mouthin' thief" Minny OFFICIALLY tells her what to do. Minny looks at Celia afterward. She begins to panic feeling like she's lost Celia's trust. Celia just STARES at her. She thanks her and really appreciates that she was told this. The next morning Celia gets herself UP and dressed. Celia decides to start planting, but it becomes something different. When she's outside, Minny is inside and sees a note from Hilly to Celia tucked underneath the newspaper, along w/ Celia's check for $200.00. The memo on the check read: For Two-Slice Hilly.
Skeeter calls her boss, Ms. Stein, to inform her the manuscript for the book will be done the second week of January. No Can Do. Ms. Stein's office will have an editor's meeting on 12/21. So the book is due by then. Otherwise the project is scrapped. Skeeter tries to keep the bad parts from her social life from her mom who is SICK. Skeeter had paid, although fearful, Pascagoula's brothers to deliver 25 toilet pots onto Hilly's lawn. She doesn't regret it but also doesn't feel happy about it. What she need to do, Skeeter, is come up w/ a title for the book. Aibileen comes up w/ calling it "Help". Minny & Skeeter both like the title.
When Stuart is called out to an oil meeting in Dallas, he properly informed Skeeter. It didn't matter to her and she shrugged it off. Deep down she is disappointed because she doesn't want her mom to know. When Skeeter goes to Aibileen's for last minute work, Aibileen gives her a letter. Before giving it to her, Aibileen informs her that Constantine had a daughter. Born white as snow. Constantine put her in an orphanage up in Chicago. Aibileen tells Skeeter that ALOT of colored women did that to tend to white families. It made Skeeter wonder if Constantine couldn't take care of her child because she was taking care of Skeeter. Constantine couldn't handle the propaganda of a black woman toting around a white child that was ACTUALLY hers. It was hard for her to find someone to watch her child while she worked. She didn't take her daughter out much. Constantine had been working for Skeeter's family. The baby's father had been working on her family's farm. When her child was 4-yrs-old, Constantine took her to the orphanage and LEFT. A few years later, Constantine wrote the orphanage, told them she made a mistake. She wanted her daughter back. It was too late. Her daughter had been adopted out. It was her worst mistake. 25 years later, Constantine received a letter from her child. They wrote back-and-forth. Her daughter wanted to come for a visit. Skeeter was away at school at the time. Constantine was excited to somehow introduce the two.
Skeeter does change certain situations but edits it within putting it in the book. Skeeter found it ironic. While Constantine wanted her daughter back, Skeeter just wanted her mother's approval. In the meantime, Skeeter fills in her own life story in the book. She then goes to her mother for THE TRUTH. Constantine's daughter would go around and come in the house passing herself off as a white girl when everyone knew her true self. What Aibileen hadn't wanted to tell Skeeter about Constantine - her mom, Charlotte, did. Charlotte took it into her own hands to tell Constantine's daughter the truth. A child should never know this about her own mother. After the HEARTBREAKING news, Skeeter runs to Aibileen's w/ the completed manuscript before it was sent. They all begin to think about the aftermath after the book comes out. That is when Minny wants insurance by putting Hilly's Terrible Awful in the book. Skeeter gets this written and RUSHES it out in the mail THAT NIGHT to make her deadline.
When Skeeter finds out the severity of her mother's health condition, things are different. Skeeter is the mother while Charlotte is the child. When it comes to the book, nothing could be done but sit and wait. It's Christmas time and both Skeeter and her dad await her brother, Carlton's, arrival while they care for Charlotte who was worsening. When Carlton comes home, he's SHOCKED by his mother's appearance. On New Year's Day, Charlotte does feel strength and things progress. On the first Friday of 1964, after Charlotte is asleep, Skeeter calls in to find out the status of the book. The package did arrive during the holidays. When Skeeter tells Aibileen the final profits and details of the book, throughout the info, Aibileen tries to keep her composure though DYING to burst out in laughter. The book won't be out until August, but they're all happy anyway. Now it's worry about reaction from the book.
Ms. Leefolt's second child is a boy, Ross. Aibileen calls his "Lil Man". Mae Mobley is in preschool every morning. The book is due out in 4 days. Everyone waits in anticipation. Aibileen hasn't seen Skeeter in six months, since the book was finished. When the book OFFICIALLY arrives, Aibileen wants to cry, but holds back. She takes a copy up to the jail where Yule May is. Aibileen runs over to Minny's, who is six months pregnant. The next day, Aibileen thought about how this book, w/ her participation is on bookshelves. Back at work, EVERYTHING is normal. What followed was that the book hit the T.V. circuit press. Aibileen is scared and excited at the same time. They get the MOST POSITIVE feedback from this book from their peers.
Hilly is already on her third maid in a month. Her pickings are getting slim. Everyone is in arms over this book. Minnie is PARANOID over the ramifications at work regarding the book. Johnny is crying, pleading for Celia to never leave him. Minnie is secured a job for LIFE. Everyone is crying. Aibileen is showing some of the same paranoia. Things become out of control afterward. Women whispering about the others and maids were fired. Even though she doesn't care what she thinks, Skeeter awaits Hilly's reaction. A month ago, Skeeter mailed out resumes everywhere. Even if she got a job offer anywhere, she couldn't abandon Aibileen in the middle of this mess. Skeeter's mom was so upset by the breakup w/ Stuart, she went so far as to set her up w/ a 35-yr-old 3rd cousin who was clearly gay.
Skeeter does miss having GENUINE friends. Not Hilly. But the Elizabeth she used to know. The towns bookstores are sold out for the book and the library has a 2 month waiting list. Skeeter is informed by a friend that the maid her friend has is GRATEFUL for her maid and would NEVER fire the help she has. Everyone agrees that if the pie story is leaked, it's all over. Meanwhile Aibileen is BAUMBARTED w/ phone calls. Skeeter reads in an article that Stuart moved his oil company down to New Orleans to spend time out on the rigs again. Skeeter received a letter from Harper & Row Publishing in New York. It was for a job as a copy editor's assistant. She feels HORRIBLE for this advantage because of leaving Aibileen and Minny to deal w/ this town mess. She has NOTHING left in the town of Jackson, MS. So, She goes to New York.
Since the books release and the whole town is gossiping about it, Aibileen's been real nervous and jumpy. Afraid she'll be found out. Afraid Ms. Leefolt found out the truth. After work, it's dark and Aibileen goes over to Minnie's. She pulls out a chair and confesses her nerves about when will this all blow up in her face? How could Minnie be so calm? They sit and chat at Minnie's over coffee and tea late into the night. On Saturday, Miss Leefolt is hosting a luncheon that's coming up. She borrowed dishes and more from the neighbors, including 8 plate settings of Hilly's silver. Mae Mobley and her brother, Ross, have been playing school together and they love it. On Sunday, after wrapping up Hilly's silver in a blue cloth she gets Ross out of his bed. When Aibileen does that, she finds a hair roller, a measuring spoon and a dinner napkin in his bed.
That night, there's a terrible storm. Someone knocks on her door and it's Skeeter. She comes in through the front, something she doesn't normally do. She usually comes in through the back, but couldn't this time, thanks to the thick mud outside. They haven't seen each other in six months. Skeeter gives news that stores are asking for more books. Ms. Stein is printing 5,000 more of them. More books mean more money coming. Skeeter informs Aibileen she quit the Ms. Myrna job. She told her boss that the next Ms. Myrna should be Aibileen. The real answers came from her anyway. They agreed as long as Aibileen was anonymous. Aibileen THANKS her for this opportunity and EVERYTHING. On Skeeter's trip to New York, she's stopping in Chicago first to visit Constantine's grave. With those two together in Aibileen's house, Skeeter and Aibileen feel like family.
After catching a few hours of sleep, Aibileen hardly feels tired when getting up at 6 A.M. Before heading out, her phone rings and it's Minny. Her husband was fired from his job thanks to William Holbrook. Leroy came home to being abusive to his wife. Minny managed to run to the gas station while the kids ran next door. Minny couldn't take it anymore. She's crying. Aibileen assures Minny that she's free. Before she was OFFICIALLY fired, Aibileen does give Baby Girl the medicine she needs to get better. After the medicine and some words of advice to live by, Aibileen's life as she knew it was done. Mae Mobley was her last baby.
In 2011, an Oscar-worthy film was made based on this book starring Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone and Bryce Dallas Howard.
This book/story is a work of FICTION. The author, Kathryn Stockett, did write this book in order to answer this question: What it felt like to be black in Mississippi working for a white family? While the book is fiction, Kathryn wrote as though she truly was Skeeter Phelan.