The Help by Kathryn Stockett Summary Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Help

Plot Summary Part 1

This story takes place in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960's. Blacks are no longer slaves but they are definitely treated as second class citizens. This is the story of a bunch of black maids and how they are treated by the white housewives they work for.

Miss Hilly, a racist bitch, is promoting an initiative to require black maids to have their own bathrooms so they won't get white people sick. This makes absolutely no sense to me even from a theoretical perspective--if you believe black people are diseased, why would you invite them to come and clean and cook in your home?

Meanwhile, a black maid named Minny is unemployed and can't get a job because Miss Hilly is falsely telling everyone that Minny steals. Her black friend Aibileen creates a false reference for Minny and gets her a job with Miss Celia.

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Meanwhile Miss Leefort gives Aibileen a surprise: they have built her a bathroom in the garage so she won't use the regular bathroom and "contaminate" white people. But the funny thing about the scene is how Miss Leefort treats this like a gift to Aibileen instead of an insult. She even asks Aibileen if it will be nice to have a separate bathroom and Aibileen is forced to agree. Miss Leefort is so excited she wants Aibileen to get some toilet paper and rush out there and use it right away. And then she wants Aibileen to scrub the regular bathroom to decontaminate it from the times that Aibileen used it.

Meanwhile, Miss Celia tells Minny that her husband Johnnie can't be told she is working for him because Celia wants Johnnie to think that she does all the cooking and cleaning. Minny is worried that Johnnie will come home one day and be surprised to find her there and shoot her dead. Celia promises to eventually tell Johnnie about her. Minny tries to teach Celia how to cook and clean but Celia is hopeless.

Meanwhile we are introduced to Charlotte Phelan, an ugly young white woman. She has long thing legs and a big beak and looks like a mosquito so they call her Miss Skeeter, as in "Missquito", get it? Skeeter's mom is worried that Skeeter doesn't have a boyfriend. She asks Skeeter if she is a lesbian. Because if she is, Skeeter's mom says that a lady's magazine talks about a special root that can cure her lesbianism. Skeeter assures her mother that she is not a lesbian. She's simply ugly and can't get any.

Skeeter has just returned from college to find the maid, Constantine, is gone. Mrs. Skeeter claims Constantine quit and refuses to talk about it. Skeeter misses Constantine and wonders what happened.

Meanwhile, Aibileen is taking care of Mae Mobley, a two year old with a weird name. Mae Mobley wants to used the colored bathroom in the garage and that has Aibileen worried her mother will find out. But Mae Mobley thinks that Aibileen is her real mother and that she, herself, is also black. Aibileen is worried she will be fired because of her influence on Mae Mobley.

Miss Leefort tries to get Mae Mobley to shit on the right toilet, even encouraging Mae Mobley to watch her squeezing shit from her own ass on the white people's toilet. But Mae Mobley is unmoved.

Skeeter wants to write a book about what it's like to be a black maid in Jackson Mississippi. Aibileen thinks this could be very dangerous but she agrees because she hates how Miss Hilly, the local racist lady, treats black people.

Skeeter goes on a date with a white guy named Stuart. Stuart is distracted at dinner watching a blonde with big breasts enter the restaurant. Stewart asked if Skeeter went to college simply in order to find a husband.

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