Aibileen Clark is a black maid in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960’s. She comes from generations of domestic workers and family that were slaves. Even though she excelled in school, especially in writing, she had to dropout to support her family. Aibileen spent years loving and raising her employer’s children realizing that someday they could be her future employers. Aibileen struggles to keep her strength, pride and intelligence bottled up inside. She fears that if she speaks out and defends herself she will blacklisted and lose her job. In one situation she over hear Mrs. Leefort say
“‘I did not raise you to use the colored bathroom!’ I hear her hiss-whispering, thinking I can’t hear, and I think, Lady, you don’t raise your child at…show more content… Hilly. Mrs. Leefort, Aibileen’s employer, builds a separate washroom for Aibileen. Miss. Hilly comes over and manipulates Aibileen into thanking her for her separate washroom.
“Hilly cleared her throat and finally Aibileen lowered her head. ‘Thank you, ma’am’ she whispered. She walked back into the kitchen” (Stockett 129).
Aibileen's pride was damaged when she had to thank Miss. Hilly. This happened in front of Skeeter. Skeeter is writing a book about the black maids in Mississippi and she is hoping to have Aibileen help her. Skeeter witnesses how reluctant Aibileen is to thank Miss. Hilly. Skeeter understands that Aibileen cannot dispute Miss. Hilly baiting because she is afraid of being fired or worse. Aibileen is aware that if she angers an employer they have the power to ruin her life. After the confrontation with Miss Hilly something triggers in Aibileen to step up and agree to help Skeeter with the book.
“‘I just…...I have to ask you. What changed your mind?’ Aibileen doesn’t even pause. ‘Miss Hilly.’ she says. I go quiet, thinking of Hilly’s bathroom plan and accusing the maid of stealing and her talk of diseases. The name comes out flat, bitter as a bad pecan” (Stockett…show more content… This was mostly caused by the tragic death of her son. This had put Aibileen into a state of depression along with the constant state of racial oppression that has be constantly in her life. She told me a story about how she felt 5 months after her son's death,
“Five months after the funeral, I lifted myself up out a bed. I put on my white uniform and put my little gold cross back around my neck and I went to wait on Miss Leefolt cause she just have her baby girl. But it weren’t too long before I seen something in me had changed. A bitter seed was planted inside a me. And I just didn’t feel so accepting anymore.” (Stockett 3). Three years later, she is approached by Skeeter who wants her help in writing a book about black maids in Mississippi. Skeeter and Aibileen secretly work on the novel. Since the book is being written anonymously she feels safe enough to participate. She grows by finding a purpose in helping others by writing their stories. Their courage gives her courage. She is still fearful but sees that as a group they can be strong and supportive even if the outcome is good or