Chapter 18 Summary

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 935

Minny

All the way to Miss Celia’s house, Minny practices her apology. When she arrives, Miss Celia tells Minny good morning; however, she is not feeling well and goes straight to her room. Minny is not sure what to do, so she does her work as if she still has...

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Minny

All the way to Miss Celia’s house, Minny practices her apology. When she arrives, Miss Celia tells Minny good morning; however, she is not feeling well and goes straight to her room. Minny is not sure what to do, so she does her work as if she still has the job and hopes she is not being foolish. That afternoon Miss Celia does not come out of her bedroom for her cooking lesson, so Minny goes and finds her shut behind the bathroom door. Minny hollers that she will be working in the bedroom, but there is no answer. She tidies the room and finds a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird on Mister Johnny’s nightstand. She is amazed that there is a book with colored people in it and wonders if Miss Skeeter’s book will ever get published. There is a scuffing noise behind the door, and Minny tries to entice Miss Celia out by mentioning Mister Johnny, but that does not work.

Finally Minny asks Miss Celia to say something so she knows she is okay. Miss Celia says she is fine but Minny can hear she is not. It is almost three o’clock, and Minny needs to make sure (if she is not fired) that all is well so she does not get fired a second time. Finally the door slowly opens, and Miss Celia is sitting on the floor. Her complexion is pale blue and flat, and there is a lot of blood in the toilet bowl. There is also blood along the hem of her nightgown, as if it had dipped into the toilet. When Minny looks closer, she sees something “solid-looking” in the bowl. She offers to call Mister Johnny, but Miss Celia is adamant that she only call Dr. Tate.

Minny describes the situation to the woman on the phone and then tells Miss Celia that Dr. Tate is on his way. She tries to move her to the bed, but Miss Celia does not want to get blood all over everything and have to explain it to Mister Johnny. She wonders why there was so much blood this time and what she is going to do with it so it does not get stuck in the pipes. Minny knows now that she will have to be the one to fish Miss Celia’s dead baby out of the toilet bowl and dispose of it.

She tries to get practical but then wonders if the doctor will want to examine the fetus and shuts the lid on the bowl. As they talk, Minny learns this is the second child Miss Celia has lost. She and Mister Johnny got married because she was pregnant, and she lost that baby, too. When Minny tells her she will never keep a baby with all that whiskey in her, Miss Celia is dumbstruck. The bottles are not whiskey; they are a Choctaw tonic that is supposed to help her keep the baby from spilling out too early. Minny thinks her employer is even stupider than she had imagined.

Minny tries to reassure her that these things happen in their own time and that there is no rush, but Miss Celia explains that her husband wants children now; she is afraid he will leave her. In truth, this is her fourth miscarriage, and Mister Johnny only knows about the first one. Minny starts to explain something about Mister Johnny and realizes she has said too much. Instead of lying, she tells Miss Celia the truth about meeting her husband months ago. The woman looks stricken, but Minny assures her he is not upset, that he even called her several weeks after they met to make sure she was not planning to quit. Miss Celia apologizes for everything.

When the back bell rings, Minny takes off her shoes so she will not track blood through the house and opens the door to the doctor and nurse. The nurse runs immediately to the bedroom and revives Miss Celia with smelling salts. Together, they get her out of her bloody nightgown and lay her on the bed, which Minny has covered with old towels. In the kitchen, Dr. Tate is calmly washing his hands. The man is very white and has a long, narrow face that shows absolutely no feelings. When Minny reminds him that Miss Celia does not want her husband to know, he turns on her with pure disdain. He tells her the husband has a right to know and then shuts the door in her face.

An hour passes as Minny paces the kitchen and worries. The doctor finally emerges and tells Minny that Miss Celia was hysterical so he gave her a pill to “calm her down.” Minny sees the nurse walk out the back door with a white tin box and feels relieved. Dr. Tate tells Minny to watch Miss Celia tomorrow and give her another pill if she “gets too agitated.” He warns that there will be more bleeding but not to call him unless it is too heavy. She asks again if he is going to tell Mister Johnny, and he “lets out a sick hiss” as he tells her to make sure Miss Celia does not miss her Friday appointment. He refuses to drive all the way out here just because she is too lazy to come to his office; he slams the door behind him.

It is five o’clock, and Mister Johnny will be home in half an hour. Minny gets bleach, rags, and a bucket and heads for the bathroom.

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