Chapter 13 Summary
In the next two weeks, Minny, Aibileen, and Skeeter meet regularly to record Minny’s story. She always speaks to Aibileen, not Skeeter, and nearly always storms out in a rage. Occasionally Minny lapses into stories about Miss Celia and then stops herself and tells Skeeter to leave Miss Celia out of her writing. Minny likes to talk about two things: her fury at white people and food. One day as she talks about preparing a meal with a white baby in one arm, Minny says none of this has to do with civil rights and all Skeeter is writing about is life. Skeeter pauses and agrees, saying she hopes that is what she is doing. Minny storms off again, saying she has more important things to worry about than what a white woman is hoping for.
Three months after their date, Stuart Whitworth shows up at Longleaf. Mrs. Phelan rushes up to tell her daughter that he is here and asks from which Whitworth family he belongs. She is stunned when Skeeter tells her he is the senator’s son, though Skeeter refuses to dress up or do more than brush her hair and wash the typewriter ink and correction fluid from her hands and elbows. Stuart is dressed as if he were going out to dinner; after she offers to get him a drink (or the entire bottle), he apologizes. He says again that he told Hilly he was not ready to date after what happened. He is surprised to learn that Skeeter does not know his story, so he sits on the rocker and prepares to tell her. She does not sit, but she does not ask him to leave either.
He tells her about his engagement to Patricia van Devender after having dated since they were fifteen. He assumes she knows what dating someone for a long time is like, but she tells him she has never dated anyone. He laughs and says that is probably why she is different, why he has never met anyone like her. She is honest and says what she means, unlike most women of his acquaintance. After he apologizes again for his behavior that night, he asks if she would like to go have dinner with him. As she considers his offer, she remembers the cruel things he said to her that night and answers that she really cannot imagine anything worse. He apologizes again and walks with his head down to his car. Skeeter is moved by his contrition and hollers at him to wait a minute while she gets her sweater.
Skeeter is remembering everything that happened from that moment as she lies in bed pretending to be asleep in order to avoid her mother’s questions. By the time they got to the restaurant, it was near closing time and all they would serve was dessert. Stuart asked her what she wanted out of life, and she told him she wanted to be a journalist or a novelist—or both. He did not laugh at her ambition and told her he hopes she writes something really good, something she believes in. They talked about how to find oil and about being only one of two women who work at the paper. Just as Skeeter was wishing she had washed her hair that morning (and the waiter was wishing they would leave the restaurant), Stuart kissed her. Every single thing in her body was suddenly filled with light.
A week after her date with Stuart, Skeeter is at the library looking for more books to give Aibileen. A high school classmate, Susie Pernell, is working at the front desk and tries to give her advice about what to read (including a book on how to manage unruly hair). Skeeter knows what she is looking for, but there are no books on domestic workers. Because she is tall, she sees a booklet of Jim Crow laws up high on a shelf. She begins reading about all the things a Negro is not allowed to do and is shocked by how many laws exist to separate the races. As she prepares to set the pamphlet aside, Skeeter has the sudden realization that Hilly’s building a bathroom for Aibileen is no different than these laws. She tucks the small book into her bag (along with a defaced copy of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave ) and prepares to leave the library. Susie is on the phone as...
(The entire section is 1,412 words.)