The Help

by Kathryn Stockett

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Chapter 31 Summary

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Every day, Aibileen finds an excuse to check Miss Leefolt’s nightstand to see if her bookmark has moved. It has been five days, and she is only on page fourteen; there are two hundred and thirty-five pages to go. Miss Leefolt is a slow reader. Even so, Aibileen wants to tell her that the chapter she is reading right now is about Miss Skeeter and Constantine—and that chapter two will be about her.

All week Aibileen is nervous and jumpy, especially on the day Miss Hilly comes over to work with Miss Leefolt on the Benefit. They occasionally look up and ask her to bring them something, and twice Miss Hilly comes to the kitchen to give further instruction to Ernestine, her one-armed maid, over the phone. After clearing their plates, Aibileen walks back into the dining room and hears Miss Hilly say she is on chapter seven. The maid starts shaking and is even more concerned when Miss Hilly leans over and says the story just feels like it might be Jackson, that they might even know some of these Negro maids. Miss Leefolt has not read far enough to add to the conversation, but Miss Hilly smiles “real sneaky-like” and says she intends to figure out each person in the book.

At the bus stop the next morning, Aibileen begins hyperventilating as she wonders how far Miss Leefolt has gotten in her book. When she arrives at the house, the white woman is reading the book and does not stop to greet her or pay attention to her son. Now that Miss Hilly is interested, so is Miss Leefolt. When she has a chance, Aibileen takes a quick look and sees the bookmark has been moved to chapter six. This means she read her own chapter and is still reading. That scares Aibileen, but she also feels disgusted that Miss Leefolt apparently did not recognize her own story. She probably just shook her head as she read about an awful lady who does not really love her own children. She calls Minny, but Miss Celia reads nothing but “trash,” so Minny has no news. She assures Aibileen something is going to happen soon. It has to.

At the grocery store, Aibileen buys Mae Mobley’s snacks. Her poor Baby Girl came home crying yesterday because of her teacher, Miss Taylor. Her assignment was to draw what they “like about themselves best,” and Mae Mobley drew herself black. Miss Taylor told her that was a bad thing; it means she has a dirty, black face. Aibileen is discouraged that a teacher, someone everyone respects and remembers, is teaching children such bad things.

She sees Miss Louvenia, the grandmother of Robert, the boy who was beaten and blinded by a tire iron because he accidentally used a Qhite bathroom. Miss Louvenia works for Miss Lou Anne all day and then takes Robert to the school for the blind so he can learn how to read with his fingers. The woman never complains. Neither has heard anything new, but Miss Lou Anne is reading the book. As the two black women walk by two white women, they hear them pointing and discussing who the maids are and guessing which stories in the book are about them. Aibileen prays that Miss Hilly will read more quickly.

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Chapter 30 Summary


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