I found two instances where the actual word “shame” is used in The Help . One comes near the end of Chapter 11, which is told by Miss Skeeter. Aibileen is reading her notes aloud, so that Skeeter can put them into the book about the black maids of Jackson....
I found two instances where the actual word “shame” is used in The Help. One comes near the end of Chapter 11, which is told by Miss Skeeter. Aibileen is reading her notes aloud, so that Skeeter can put them into the book about the black maids of Jackson. The topic is Aibileen’s first maid job, when she was fired because she made a mistake on the silver inventory chart.
I came home that morning, after I been fired, and stood outside my house with my new work shoes on. The shoes my mama paid a month’s worth a light bill for. I guess that’s when I understood what shame was and the color of it too. Shame ain’t black, like dirt, like I always thought it was. Shame be the color of a new white uniform your mother ironed all night to pay for, white without a smudge or a spec a work-dirt on it.
Aibileen was ashamed and embarrassed that she had been fired, and she didn’t even have any dirt on her uniform as proof of having worked at all.
The other use of the word “shame” comes in Chapter 24, which is told by Minny. She has been beaten by her husband Leroy and has a cut at her eyebrow. Miss Celia sees it and is concerned. Later on the way home, Minny sees Aibileen but doesn’t pick her up. When Aibileen finally catches up to Minny and questions her, she sees her friend’s wound. Minny takes off her bandage.
On some folks around here, a cut-up eye wouldn’t even get a comment. But I’ve got good kids, a car with tires, and a refrigerator freezer. I’m proud of my family and the shame of the eye is worse than the pain.
Minny is ashamed that her husband beats her up, and that she allows this to happen. By the end of the book, she takes measures to get away from him.
You can consider other incidents of shame that don’t specifically use the word "shame." Miss Celia feels shame that she cannot have children. Minny is somewhat ashamed that she made the Terrible Awful pie for Hilly Holbrook. Hilly is ashamed when people see toilets sitting in her front yard. Elizabeth Leefolt is ashamed at the end of the book, when she allows Hilly to force her to fire Aibileen. Elizabeth is not strong enough of character to protest.