What motivates Hilly from The Help?

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scarletpimpernel eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Fear and Ignorance largely motivate "Miss Hilly" from Kathryn Stockett's The Help. Stereotypes about the African American women in her life have been ingrained in her since childhood, and Hilly is not only fearful to go against what she sincerely believes to be true about segregation, but she is also ignorant because she does not seek the truth about her own motivation and actions.

Hilly's ignorance and inability to look at any issue from someone else's perspective affect all areas of her life. She believes that she is right and strikes out at friends, employees, and family when she feels challenged. She believes that she is a leader, but the only other characters who seem to follow her are those who fall prey to her intimidating tactics. This is why she is so vindictive toward Skeeter and Minny; she does not know how to respond when someone does not give in to her.