Summary and Analysis
At work on Monday, Celia refuses to get out of bed. She is too humiliated to move. Hilly has sent her a note banning her from future League events and demanding that she donate 200 dollars to the League for all the trouble she caused. Minny brings her food and cleans the house, but nothing gets Celia to move until Minny reveals the details of the chocolate pie she once made for Hilly. After Minny left Miss Walter's employ, Hilly told everyone in town that Minny had stolen silver from Miss Walter so that no one would hire her. Then Hilly tried to get Minny to come work for her. Minny refused and told Hilly to "eat my shit". Minny made her a special chocolate pie, and Hilly thought it was a peace offering, so she ate two whole slices. Afterwards, Minny tells her that she also contributed a very special ingredient, her shit. Then Minny blackmails Hilly and says she will tell everyone in town about the special pie. Celia writes the check to the League and adds "For Two-Slice Hilly" in the notes section. Then she goes in the backyard, in the pouring rain, and chops down the mimosa tree.
Themes of humiliation and revenge dominate this chapter. Hilly spreads lies about Minny's thievery so that no one else will hire her. A maid's reputation is everything, and Hilly has ruined Minny's credentials. Most maids would have just accepted their fate, but Minny is not good at staying in her assigned place. Minny's mouth gets in her trouble all the time and the chocolate pie incident is no exception. Her humiliation of Hilly is complete and a power shift occurs. Minny now knows something about Hilly—that she tricked Hilly into literally eating humble pie—and that Hilly is now terrified of her. When Minny shares the secret with Celia, it empowers Celia, too.
The mimosa tree is a symbol of Celia's path. It reminds her of Sugar Ditch, and she wants to destroy it. Throughout the novel, Celia has asked Johnny to cut it down for her. She has even hacked away at it herself, but the tree is tenacious. Minny's strength and trust enable Celia to take control of her own destiny. She grabs an axe, goes out in the rain, and destroys the tree herself. Minny sits and watches.