The Help

The Help Summary and Analysis of Chapters 14 - 16


Chapter 14

(Written from the perspective of Aibileen.) Aibileen is in a tricky position between Skeeter and Minny, continually trying to resolve the arguments between them. The next day, Hilly and her children come over to play with Mae Mobley and Miss Leefolt. While she's playing with the children, Aibileen overhears Hilly mentioning that she read what was in Skeeter's satchel, and that she cannot have colored-supporting friends if her husband William is going to run for office.

Aibileen is terrified. She imagines what will happen if Hilly sees the things that she and Minny have said. Aibileen knows that Hilly will stop at nothing to get revenge. Aibileen could lose her job, her house, her car. Hilly might find a way to send her to jail; she might even target members of Aibileen's family or cause her to become a victim of vigilante justice.

Skeeter calls Aibileen and confesses that she left her satchel with all the interview transcripts and colored-rights materials in it. Aibileen tells her what she overheard Miss Leefolt and Hilly talking about. Skeeter asks Aibileen if she might have heard anything via Yule May, Hilly's maid, but Aibileen says that she hasn't. Skeeter asks if she wants to abandon this plan, but Aibileen replies that if Hilly already know what they're doing, stopping isn't going to save them.

On her way home from work, Aibileen's bus is stopped and everyone is forced off. She sees blue lights flashing in the distance. She walks to Minny's house, and joins Minny and her children listening to the radio. They learn that Medgar Evers, field secretary of the NAACP, was shot and killed in front of his house by a white man. Evers was respected in the Jackson black community for his activism, and his death is a painful blow and a frightening reminder of what can happen to a black person when they try to agitate for change.

Chapter 15

(Written from the perspective of Aibileen.) Still shaken by the murder of Medgar Evers, Aibileen returns to work at the Leefolt household. She tells Mae Mobley a story of two girls (one black and one white) who become friends based on their similarities, ignoring their superficial differences. Mae Mobley loves this story.

Miss Leefolt, Mae Mobley, and Aibileen head to the country club pool and meet up with Hilly and her children. The children play under the watchful eye of Aibileen while the white women chat about upcoming vacation plans. Suddenly, Skeeter appears, coming back from a tennis match. She's happy to see her white friends, but receives a cold reception. She asks if she did something to upset them, and Hilly replies that she found her "paraphernalia," the copy of the Jim Crow laws that Skeeter was carrying around in her bag. Hilly adds that it's pigheaded of Skeeter to think she knows more than politicians, and Skeeter shoots back that Hilly doesn't know anything about politics, her husband probably won't even win the local election. Catching a pleading look from Aibileen, Skeeter softens her tone, apologizing to Hilly and telling her that she's been worried about Hilly's long hours at her husband's campaign. The white women talk for a while, and then Skeeter departs. Both she and Aibileen hope that the Jim Crow laws are all that Hilly read in the satchel.

Chapter 16

(Written from the perspective of Aibileen.) Aibileen's church offers special prayers for the Evers family. But not everyone is content with mere prayer - one young man says that nonviolent action is not enough to keep white people from murdering black people.

Following the service, Aibileen approaches Yule May, Hilly's maid. Once more, she asks Yule May to take part in Skeeter's interviewing project. Yule May says she's afraid to take that risk, having two sons to send to college next year. But she wants to share her awful experiences working for the racist Hilly, and she tells Aibileen she will call her on the phone later.


Chapter 14 reference to real-world events: a specific incident of extreme violence during the Civil Rights era, the murder of Medgar Evers. Evers committed no crime and harmed no one, but he was shot in front of his family because he was the head of the NAACP and an advocate of desegregation. The differing responses to his murder from the white and black communities of Jackson demonstrate how deeply racism is engrained into the social fabric of this time and place. For the white people, this is a way to restore order (or it is something that they are completely unaware of, as in Skeeter's case). For black people, it is an indication that any opposition to the racism of the day can result in violence or murder. This is not lost on Aibileen and Minny, who realize that they are exposing the secrets of white women in their narratives. Evers' murder shows how much is at stake in the fight against racism.

Placing Evers' murder so close to Hilly's discovery of the contents of Skeeter's satchel is a literary method to show exactly what is at stake if Hilly finds out about Skeeter's work with the maids. Aibileen knows that if Hilly has read what she and Minny have said about their work as maids, Hilly will stop at nothing to ruin their lives. She would never tolerate such insolence from a black maid. The women struggle to find out exactly how much Hilly knows without asking her directly, and Skeeter confronts her friend about taking her possessions from the satchel.

The confrontation between Skeeter and Hilly in Chapter 15 highlights the complex nature of friendship. Close friends can wound each other more deeply than archenemies, because they know each other's hopes and fears so well; to wound Hilly, Skeeter undermines her political ambitions for her husband. Skeeter's opinion on Hilly has been irrevocably changed because of her work with the maids, and it remains to be seen if their friendship can survive these changes.

Chapter 14 gives yet another hint that Minny's relationship with her husband is abusive. Previously, Minny has described the fights she has with her husband when he comes home drunk; a few days prior, he shoved her so hard that he bruised her arm. Minny refuses to talk about this aspect of her personal life with Skeeter. The sympathy of a white woman is more embarrassing (or dangerous) than simply enduring her husband's violence.

Chapter 15 and 16 show two different ways that black people cope with racism. Aibileen begins telling stories to Mae Mobley that demonstrate the equality of all people, regardless of color; she hopes that telling these stories to the girl early in life will make her become less bigoted later in life. Aibileen's nonviolent strategy contrasts sharply with the opinion expressed by the young man in Chapter 16 that violence is the only way to make white people stop harming black people. The message of The Help sides with Aibileen: stories and compassion, not violence, are the best way to eradicate racism.