Why does the opportunity to tell the truth about working for white people weigh so heavily on Minny?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

By working with Miss Skeeter to tell the truth about what it's like to work for white families, Minnie is taking a big risk. The employment of domestic servants ("the help") of color was largely a carryover of the legacy of slavery in the South. The labor and personhood of...

Check Out
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

By working with Miss Skeeter to tell the truth about what it's like to work for white families, Minnie is taking a big risk. The employment of domestic servants ("the help") of color was largely a carryover of the legacy of slavery in the South. The labor and personhood of People of Color was still valued significantly less, and we can still see this today in the United States when we talk about the wage gap. There was an unwritten, subtly-spoken social contract among white families and the Black nannies and maids they employed. It was agreed upon that the Black woman's job in her employer's household was to do the work the white family didn't want to do. It was understood that she would do the work, without complaint, because she needed a wage to support herself and possibly her family. Because Black domestic workers were involved in some of the most intimate spaces and events of the home, it was also trusted that they would not speak ill or reveal any secrets about their employers in public for fear of losing their job.

Minnie works for Celia Foote, who hires her as a maid and cooking instructor. Along with these services, Minnie must keep Celia's drinking habit and miscarriages a secret. Minnie fears that if she gets involved in interviews for Skeeter's book, all of the dirty secrets she knows about her white employers will somehow make her lose her job and be unemployable in future. (No white family would employ a servant who tells their secrets.) An even greater fear Minnie has is that she might endanger herself or her loved ones, as violent attacks were often the consequence of a violation of the social contract which maintained the racial segregation of the South.

Minnie, Aibileen, and all of the other domestic workers who helped with Miss Skeeter's book were taking a huge risk that might have cost them their jobs or their lives.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team