The Help is set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s. Minny is a black maid working in a white household for Miss Celia and her husband, Johnny Foote, Jr. Miss Celia is a fairly casual employer. She wants Minny to teach her how to cook and to keep a clean house, because these are tasks that are beyond her capabilities. But Minny has been serving white folks for decades, and she knows the unspoken rules. She knows it takes only one mix-up – perceived or based on truth – to get oneself fired. So whenever she goes grocery shopping for Miss Celia, she makes sure she brings home the correct change and that the figures match the receipts. In other households, if she didn’t do this, she could be charged with theft. She talks about this situation early on in Chapter 10:
“I’m going to the store after while,” I say to Miss Celia. I hold the grocery list for her to see. Every Monday we do this. She gives me the grocery cash and when I get home I push the receipt in her face. I want her to see that every penny of change matches the paper. Miss Celia just shrugs but I keep those tickets safe in a drawer in case there’s ever any question.
Minny likes working for Miss Celia, in spite of the quirkiness of the circumstances. She doesn’t want to be accused of stealing from her employer. The receipts could serve as proof that she didn’t.