Aiblieen is a frightened woman at the beginning of the novel. She is subservient to the white family she works for, as the cultural norms of the time dictated (the novel takes place in the early 1960s), and she is very reluctant to work with Miss Skeeter on her book project for fear of the ramifications. In chapter seven, when Miss Skeeter first introduces Aibileen to the idea of her book, Aibileen responds with fear:
I look around. We out here in the wide open. Don't she know how dangerous this could be, talking about this while the whole world can see us?
When Skeeter tries to convince her that the interviews would be secret, Aibileen cites the incident of a black boy who was beaten with a tire iron that very morning simply for using a white bathroom. She refuses to even think about the offer at that time.
Aibileen changes her mind after Hilly's bathroom initiative, in which she wanted all maids to have their own bathroom in the houses they worked in so that white families wouldn't be subject to "their diseases." Hilly also accuses maids of stealing, and this is enough to inspire Aibileen to cooperate with Skeeter at the end of chapter thirteen, though she is still fearful about when/where they will meet and whether or not she can trust Skeeter. In addition to her fear, Aibileen is still in deep mourning for her son Treelore, who died three years earlier.
By the end of Stockett's novel, Aibileen is growing in internal strength. She is anticipating the release of the book, which has been picked up by a publisher. They've been warned to keep their expectations of the book's sales low, but Aibileen is proud of her part in the book and anxious to see her work in print.
The next day at work, all I can think of is how stores is putting my book on the shelves.
Aibileen's pride grows when her church recognizes her contributions to the book and agrees to support her in any way they can. With the money coming in from book sales, Aibileen grows more and more confident. She is strong for Minny and advises her to leave her abusive husband. At the end of the novel, Hilly Holbrook convinces Elizabeth Leefolt to fire Aibileen, and Aibileen has the courage to confront her. She gives back every threat Hilly hands her, standing up to Hilly (or any white woman) for the first time. She has found her voice. She is a dynamic character who changes from a frightened, subservient, grieving mother to a strong and courageous woman who knows and demonstrates her own worth.