Chapter 8 Summary
Three weeks ago, Miss Skeeter got a phone call from Elaine Stein, the editor from New York. She took the call in the pantry, a place she always used to go for privacy. Skeeter had sent her idea for a book to Miss Stein, telling her she already had one working and respected maid who has agreed to talk to her—which was, of course, a lie. Skeeter explained that everyone has heard the white woman’s point of view about having black maids, but no one talks about the fact that these black maids raised children who then, ironically, grew up to hire them. Miss Stein called to tell her the idea had merit, but she used to live in Atlanta and doubted any black women in Mississippi would be willing to talk of such things in such racially charged times. Skeeter insists that it can be done. Miss Stein tells her the idea is good but there is “no possible way to take it to print.” In the end, she agrees to read whatever Skeeter sends her and let her know if it is worth pursuing.
When Skeeter goes to Elizabeth’s house, she brings an old, worn-out satchel that belonged to her grandmother but matches nothing she owns. The Miss Myrna letters are in it. Hilly reminds her of her date’s arrival in two weeks, and Aibileen greets her quietly. It has been a week since Skeeter’s visit to Aibileen’s house. As they work quietly on new Miss Myrna questions, Skeeter pulls out an envelope and tries to give it to Aibileen. She tells the maid she wants to pay her for her help, but Aibileen will not take it. She recognizes it as a bribe and tells her to find someone else to talk to about her book idea. She begs her to put the envelope away in case Miss Leefolt comes in and sees it. Skeeter really has set aside five dollars from each article and has been waiting until the amount was substantial enough to give it to Aibileen, but she realizes now her timing was poor and they are worse off than they were before. She may have scared her away for good.
Mrs. Phelan corners Skeeter in the kitchen and tries to “fix” the only thing about which she can do something—her daughter’s hair. She applies...
(The entire section is 600 words.)