Hilly is Skeeter's childhood friend turned wealthy Jackson socialite. She is the president of the Junior League and married to a future politician. She enforces the need for segregation and punishes anyone who disagrees. Hilly tries to control the white women in Jackson, Mississippi, and holds tight to power through blackmail, and threats. When her social status declines, she becomes desperate and pitiful.
Hilly fights to maintain power throughout the story. As a wealthy white woman in the South, she enjoys a position of great influence, but because her status is often maintained through bullying and threats, friends, such as Skeeter, turn on her. Hilly represents an old world order destined to be destroyed. The Civil Rights Movement is sweeping through the South while Hilly desperately tries to maintain the social division between blacks and whites in Jackson. Her power is eventually diffused as the women she tries to control question whether she has their best intentions at heart or is simply grabbing at more power.