How has Constantine helped Skeeter grow up in The Help by Kathryn Stockett?

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chsmith1957 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan grew up in the white high-society Southern culture of the 1950s and 1960s. Constantine was the black maid who served the Phelan family at the Longleaf estate. She basically raised Skeeter and her brother Carlton. She also became a confidant and friend to Skeeter. The young girl knew she couldn’t share her problems, dreams, or opinions with her own mother or father because they would wave off her worries or tell her they were unimportant. Skeeter could share anything with Constantine, though, and she knew she would receive support and decent, applicable answers. Skeeter reveals their relationship most in Chapter 5. When Skeeter once cried because classmates called her “ugly,” Constantine boosted her spirit and self-esteem. She made sure the girl knew she was a worthwhile person in her own right. When Skeeter began smoking cigarettes as a teenager behind her parents’ backs, Constantine quietly disapproved but warned her if her mother was approaching. Constantine even wrote to Skeeter when she went away to college at Ole Miss. They shared secrets with one another. They were friends, in spite of the way their culture expected them to behave. Skeeter was devastated to come home from college and find out Constantine had left the estate for good. She was the one person who would have understood Skeeter’s current dilemmas. The last line of the chapter reads: “I had to accept that Constantine, my one true ally, had left me to feud for myself with these people.” So from this point on, Skeeter has to draw from what she thinks Constantine would tell her if she were still here. In a way, the maid is still teaching her about life.