In Kathryn Stockett's The Help, in what ways has Constantine helped Skeeter to grow up?

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Tamara K. H. eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Help, author Kathryn Stockett clearly portrays just how much Eugenia Phelan, nicknamed Skeeter, valued her maid Constantine as a surrogate mother, valuing her much more than her own, still living mother.

In Chapter 5, we learn that Skeeter grew up to be tall and gangly and feel unattractive. We also learn that one way in which Constantine helps Skeeter grow up is through teaching her she has "a choice in what [she] could believe." Skeeter relays the story of being called ugly for the first time, at the age of 13, by one her brother's friends. Constantine first consoles her by saying that ugliness is only based on what people are like on the inside, not the outside. She then explains that every day, Skeeter will have to ask herself, "Am I gone believe what them fools say about me today(it)?" In addition, after that, every morning Skeeter came into the kitchen, Constantine greeted her with, "Good morning, beautiful girl!," which stood in great contrast with her own mother's reaction towards her. In contrast, Skeeter's own mother constantly nitpicked about Skeeter's appearance, telling her every possible chance to take care of a blemish or brush her hair, making Skeeter want to essentially hide from her mother.

In addition, since Constantine was taller than Skeeter, Skeeter felt that Constantine was the only person she could both literally and figuratively look up to. Skeeter had to look up to Constantine literally to look into her light brown, "honey-colored" eyes, and she looked up to Constantine figuratively as the one person she could share secrets with. In fact, they both shared secrets with each other, which made Skeeter feel she could trust Constantine more and more. For example, Constantine knew that Skeeter secretly started smoking at the age of 14. At one point, Constantine even shares a story with Skeeter about her white father that makes Skeeter feel closer to Constantine. By the time Skeeter has graduated college, she has matured into an ambitious, self-possessed woman, who is even bold enough to pursue jobs in publishing and journalism, and all of these qualities are due to Constantine's influence.