The cast of characters in The Help is on the large side, however the list of central characters consists of just four characters. These are the characters that drive the action of the novel.
Miss Skeeter Phelan is the character narrating a majority of the story. She is college educated, Caucasian, and an aspiring journalist. Though she begins the story as an insider and friend to Hilly Holbrook, Skeeter becomes an outcast because of her social views and her unwillingness to go along with Hilly on her separate restroom initiative.
Aibileen is a maid and a writer who agrees to help Skeeter write a book of stories of colored maids and their experiences working for white families. Aibileen narrates sections of The Help and functions as a mediator between Miss Skeeter and the other maids who agree to participate in the book project. Aibileen is a considerate caretaker of children, though her own son has died.
Minny is another maid. She speaks her mind more freely than any other character, with the possible exception of Miss Hilly. Minny experiences a great deal of hardship over the course of the novel, while the other major characters relate important events that take place outside the time context of the novel. This makes Minny the most dynamic character in the book, in a position not only to change herself but to change others.
Hilly Holbrook is the antagonist of The Help. Once the best friend to Miss Skeeter, Hilly runs rampant over her former friend and any one else who would dare to get in her way. She is a bigoted and brattish woman. Though she truly loves her children, she cannot see her way to a compassion that extends beyond her own narrow interests.