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In Kathryn Stockett's book "The Help," I think the first of the three most important events is when Aibileen, Elizabeth's maid, agrees to describe to Skeeter her experiences as a maid. When Skeeter first asks, Aibileen refuses. She is afraid, and doesn't know about if she can trust this white woman—who is also a close friend of her employer.
[Aibileen's] quiet a second and then she blurts it out. "What if—what if you don't like what I got to say? I mean, about white peoples?"
"I—I...this isn't about my opinion," I say. "It doesn't matter how I feel...You'll just have to...trust me." I hold my breath, hoping, waiting. There is a long pause.
"Law have mercy. I reckon I'm on do it."
This is the first piece of the plan that must be in place if Skeeter is going to move forward, and Aibileen pulls together her courage and agrees to help.
The second most important event is not just that Skeeter ends up with about a dozen maids to tell their stories to her; it's not that Aibileen, Minny and Skeeter are able to find common ground in order to trust each other and work together; and, it's not just that given their shortened deadline, they are still able to finish the book and get it off to New York in time. The most important fact beyond these details is that the Harper and Row agrees to publish the book!
The date is Friday, January 17, 1964...I will remember every detail of this day...I walk into what has become such a familiar spot to me, the middle of Aibileen's kitchen...I look at Minny and she looks at me. Aibileen edges between us...
"Harper and Row," I say, "wants to publish it."
Regardless of the number of books they print, it will be published and people will know the stories (even with the names changed) of these women: their trials of being treated so poorly, and for some, their blessings—Aibileen's love for the children she has raised, and Louvenia's gratitude when her employer, Miss Lou Anne, is so good to Louvenia when her grandson is beaten until he is blind for using a whites-only bathroom.
The third most important event is Minny's decision to include the details of her Terrible Awful in the story—in other words, what she did to Miss Hilly to exact her revenge. Minny is shrewd enough to know that Miss Hilly will do anything to keep that story from finding its way to her doorstep: to guarantee that no one ever finds out, she will swear that the book is not about Jackson.
"I think we what we need is some insurance."
"Ain't no such thing," Aibileen says. "It'd give us away."
"But if we put it in there, then Miss Hilly can't let anybody find out the book is about Jackson. She don't want anybody to know that story's about her..."
"If we put the Terrible Awful in the book and people do find out that was you and Miss Hilly, then you in so much trouble"—Aibileen shudders—"there ain't even a name for it."
"That's a risk I'm just gone have to take."
Minny's insistence that her "crime" be included in the book will protect the others, but not necessarily Minny herself. Minny is aware of this when she stipulates that it must be included—or she will remove her part of the book—which is the last chapter. However, Minny believes enough in the book and their stories, that she is willing to put herself in harm's way to protect the others who have also stepped forward.
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