Chapter 27 Summary
Longleaf is quiet all the time now. No one calls and Skeeter’s mother is much worse. President Kennedy was assassinated two weeks ago, and Skeeter feels that it has been long enough to call Elaine Stein. The editor answers her own phone but sounds as if she regrets doing so when she hears who it is. Skeeter tells her the book will be ready to send by the second week in January, but there is no response at the other end of the line. The editor finally speaks and tells her January is too late, that the final editor’s meeting of the year is on December twenty-first and the manuscript must arrive before then. If not, it will go into “The Pile”—a place no author wants a book to go. She must also include a section about her own maid, to make it more personal. Skeeter hangs up and wonders how she will ever finish in time.
Skeeter kisses her mother good-bye, noting how much worse she is now than she was three months ago. She is forced to lie—again—when her mother asks if she is going to bridge club. Her mother knows Stuart broke up with her but she does not know her tennis partner replaced her, that she was kicked out of bridge club, or that she is never invited to baby showers or cocktail parties—anyplace where Hilly will be in attendance. Her only remaining activity is League meetings, and even there no one is more than polite to her. Skeeter reminds herself this is the price of putting thirty-one toilets on “the most popular girl’s front yard,” but it was not planned. As she typed the newsletter, the idea just came to her. She hired Pascagoula’s brothers to get the toilets from the junkyard and place them on Hilly’s lawn; they were scared but willing to do it. Hilly probably also blames her for William’s losing his senate race, too.
That evening Skeeter kisses her mother goodnight and goes to Aibileen’s house to tell her about the revised deadline. There is a lot of work yet to do, but Skeeter is most concerned about finding out what happened to Constantine. Aibileen sighs and says she would rather Miss Skeeter hear it from her than a stranger and promises to write the story out for her.
When Skeeter attends the Thursday night League meeting, even Elizabeth will not speak to her. After Hilly drones through the list of upcoming drives and the “trouble list” (a place Skeeter always finds herself now), she announces that the committee has decided to make some changes in the League newsletter—renamed The Tattler. She then takes nominations for editor of the new publication, and of course the only nominee is Hilly. Before Skeeter quite realizes what is happening, Hilly Holbrook has usurped her position. As Skeeter leaves, Elizabeth makes a comforting gesture but then looks away.
Skeeter drives and thinks about everything in her life, including her very sick mother, and she realizes that everything is changing. She stops at a phone booth to check on her mother, and her father—who is never up at 8:15 at night—tells her she has to come home. Skeeter assumes it is about her mother, but her father tells her Stuart has been sitting on the porch for two hours waiting for her.
Alone in the dark on the front porch steps, the two of them are like strangers. Stuart tells her he finally confronted Patricia and she is now “out of his head.” Skeeter is sickened by the smell of bourbon on his breath and will not look at him—yet she wishes she could wrap herself up in his arms. She both loves him and hates him as she tells him to go home. He wants to come back and talk to her; she says she does not care what he does. Skeeter cannot risk being “thrown away” again; it has happened too often lately and she would be “stupid” to let it happen one more time.
Skeeter is up early and late working on the book, for she only has seventeen days left—until she remembers she also has to allow for mailing time. Ten days is not long enough. Stuart comes by again; she is polite but firm in her refusal to...
(The entire section is 2,168 words.)