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Chapter 6 Summary

Skeeter

One hot September morning, Skeeter treks to the mailbox at the end of their drive and finds a letter addressed to Miss Eugenia Phelan. It is from the senior editor at Harper & Row Publishers, Elaine Stein. She tells Skeeter she is impressed at her ambition at wanting to work for such a prestigious company with absolutely no experience. She recommends that Skeeter take whatever job she can find at her local newspaper and, in her free time, write about anything that disturbs her—“particularly if it bothers no one else.” Underneath the typed letter is a handwritten note offering to look at her writing and give her advice because someone once did the same for her. Skeeter runs back to the house and is immediately inspired to begin typing a list of things she finds disturbing. After she mails the letter the next day, she realizes she probably wrote things she thought the editor would like more than injustices that truly interest her.

Two days after she received the letter, Skeeter enters the door to the Jackson Journal building for an appointment with Mr. Golden. When she called, she said she was interested in any available position and was surprised at how quickly they asked to see her. The receptionist is less than professional, and Mr. Golden looks in every way like a small, mean man. After Skeeter hands him her resume and sample articles from school, Mr. Golden edits her work with a red pencil as they talk. In between making “violent red marks” on her work and telling her she should have had more fun at college, Mr. Golden tells her he guesses “she’ll do.” He hands her a thick file of papers and tells her Miss Myrna has gone crazy; all Skeeter has to do is write the answers like she does and no one will know the difference. Confused, Skeeter has no idea who Miss Myrna is and asks the only question she can think to ask—how much the job pays. He tells her eight dollars a week. She is still dazed at it all, but Mr. Gordon thinks she is holding out for more money and increases the amount to ten dollars. He will give her nothing if he does not like her writing style, and copy is due on Thursdays. Skeeter has just gotten her first job.

Her mother is less than pleased (which confirms Skeeter’s instinct that she should not have told her about it) and asks Skeeter how she will manage to give advice about cleaning when she has never done it herself. She adds that Skeeter will never meet anybody sitting behind a typewriter. Skeeter makes it clear she does not want to be living here, with her; Mrs. Phelan is embarrassed to ask but wonders if Skeeter prefers women to men. If so, she has heard about a “special root tea”—Skeeter interrupts and assures her she does not “want to be with girls” as she storms up the stairs.

Skeeter decides she needs a professional to help her with this column (the first of which is due tomorrow), and she chooses Aibileen, Elizabeth’s maid. After lying to her mother about where she is going, Skeeter drives her mother’s Cadillac to her friend’s house. Hilly comes out of the bathroom, relieved to know that she is not sharing the room with a black person anymore. Skeeter assumes Aibileen now has her own bathroom in the garage. Hilly asks if either of them has heard where Minny Jackson is working; they both say no, and Hilly is complacent, believing her lies have kept the woman from being hired anywhere in town. Skeeter announces she has gotten a job at the Jackson Journal and her friends are thrilled for her.

Neither of them has ever read Miss Myrna’s column either. Elizabeth is surprised when Skeeter asks if she can speak with Aibileen. She finally approves as long as it does not interfere with her work. Right now, though, Mae Mobley is about to get up, and she does not want to take care of her daughter herself—and tomorrow is silver-polishing day.  Elizabeth begrudgingly says she can talk to Aibileen for a few minutes in the morning.

Skeeter talks with Aibileen the next...

(The entire section is 1,402 words.)