How did the character Mae Mobley Leefolt in "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett develop from the beginning of the book to the end of the book?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I must admit, the character of Mae Mobley and the way that she is ignored by her mother was one of the more disturbing parts of this excellent story. Mae Mobley's saviour is her black maid, Aibileen, who does what she can to counteract the obvious distaste that her mother has for her daughter. This is shown early on in the book, when Aibileen hears Mae Mobley repeating to herself words that her mother has obviously said to her: "Mae Mobley bad." Aibileen, shocked by this, does her best to instill Mae Mobley with a sense of self-esteem and her own goodness, telling her these things over and over again. Also, she does her best to try and make sure that Mae Mobley does not grow up with the same kind of racially superior attitudes that her mother and father have. It is at the end of the story, when Aibileen is fired thanks to Miss Hilly's intervention, that she is able to see the fruits of her work in terms of the development of Mae Mobley's character. Note what Aibileen tells us:

I look deep into her rich brown eyes and she look into mine. Law, she got old-soul eyes, like she done lived a thousand years. And I swear I see, down inside, the woman she gone grow up to be. A flash from the future. She is tall and straight. She is proud. She got a better haircut. And she is remembering the words I put in her head. Remmebering as a full-grown woman.

Aibileen thus sees a kind of future Mae Mobley who has learnt to love herself and managed to grow up with self-respect and dignity, in spite of her mother. She has changed from a baby who is convinced that she is "bad" to a child who has self-respect, thanks to the work of her maid.

beachgirl757 | Student

I think Mae Mobley represents Aibileen's hope for the future.  Other children that Abileen and other black maids have raised were sweet and kind to black people while they were children, but turned into their parents as adults.  Aibileen hopes that Mae Mobley will be different and that the world is changing to where more Mae Mobleys will exist one day.