Chapter 24 Summary
Minny waits nervously for Miss Celia to come home. That morning she squeezed herself into her tightest pink sweater, said she was going to Miss Leefolt’s before she lost her nerve, and drove off with her skirt hanging out of the door. Shortly after that, Aibileen called to tell her everything she heard. Minny is sure it will “take those crackling hens” just a few minutes to figure out her deception. Now all she can do is wait for Miss Celia to return.
Minny wants to know several things: Will Aibileen get fired for helping her get this job? Did Miss Hilly tell Miss Celia her lies about Minny being a thief? Did Miss Hilly tell her about the Terrible Awful Thing Minny did to get back at Miss Hilly for telling lies about her? She is sorry about that incident now, but since Miss Hilly put her own maid in jail, she wonders what will happen to her for this. Miss Celia does not arrive home until ten minutes after four. When she sees Minny is still there, she shoos her off quickly before Mister Johnny gets home. It is a twisted charade, but Minny has no choice except to go home and worry all night.
The next morning, Aibileen calls Minny to tell her that Miss Hilly and Miss Leefolt decided Minny made up the recommendation so Miss Celia would give Minny the job. Minny is relieved that Aibileen’s part in this is still a secret, though she is being called a liar and a thief. Now she just has to keep Miss Celia from talking to Miss Hilly.
As soon as she arrives at work, Minny sees Miss Celia about to go shopping for a new dress for the Benefit. Minny works out in the back yard for a bit and hears a crackling in the bushes, though she sees no one. When the phone rings, Minny wants to ignore it as she is supposed to do in case it is Mister Johnny, but today she answers it. It is Miss Hilly. Minny lowers her voice and lies, saying her name is Doreena and she is Miss Celia’s maid. When Miss Hilly asks about Minny, she says Minny quit. She also says Miss Celia has left for the coast and will be gone a long time. Miss Hilly leaves her number and tells her to have Miss Celia call when she returns. After she hangs up, Minny’s heart is beating wildly.
Minny knows she could always tell Miss Celia about the lies, but there is the Terrible Awful, and she has no excuse for that. Miss Celia returns four hours later with five big boxes. Minny helps carry them to the bedroom and waits outside the room to listen for Miss Celia to call the society women as usual. She does pick up the phone, but she hangs it up again. As always, Miss Celia wants to be sure the phone is working in case one of them ever calls her.
Three days later, Minny tries to hide her face from Miss Celia, but she sees the bleeding cut above her eyebrow. Usually her bruises are not visible. Miss Celia is concerned and insists on calling the doctor; finally Minny has to tell her that no white doctor is going to work on a colored person. Minny just wants to be left alone in her humiliation. Leroy beats her up often when he has been drinking. This time, though, he was sober. At first she thought it was because he found out about her working with Miss Skeeter, but he beat her for his “pure pleasure.” Minny says she hit her head on the bathtub but Miss Celia does not appear to believe her. She tells Minny she saw things like this back in Sugar Ditch, and she wants to call the police.
Their conversation is disrupted when Miss Celia sees a man out the window. It is a scrawny white man; his back is to them, but Minny can tell he is touching himself. He turns around and stares at Minny as if he knows she deserves to be hit and wants to beat her as well. He makes a threatening gesture and Minny runs through the house locking doors. He approaches the house, tries the doorknob, and throws a rock through the window. Minny knows what she must do. She grabs a broom and a knife from Mister Johnny’s hunting display and runs after the man, telling Miss Celia to lock the door behind her.
(The entire section is 1,500 words.)