Character List and Analysis
Aibileen is a wise and weathered black maid who has raised seven white children. She works for Elizabeth Leefolt and adores toddler Mae Mobley Leefolt— even though she knows that the loving relationship could hurt them both. Aibileen has changed since her son's death, and she finds that she cannot accept the way things are so easily now. The book she writes with Skeeter and the other maids empowers her to stand up for injustices. She teaches the children she raises that the color of skin does not matter but love and kindness do; but she often feels that the message is countered by the racism in Jackson. Aibileen realizes she has more to offer in life than being a maid and finds the courage to try something new.
Throughout the novel Aibileen's character triumphs in the face of adversity, but the growth is a slow, painful process. Even though she is still mourning the loss of her son, she finds solace in her maternal role raising white children. Her identity is determined by her place in society as a maid, but she embraces a central role in the writing project with Skeeter and finds a new identity as a writer, too. Aibileen realizes the danger that could result from her decisions, but she embraces the risk and relies on her faith for guidance. In the end, Aibileen discovers her own courage and talents, which leads her to leave her job as a maid and accept an undetermined path that will lead to more independence.