Summary and Analysis
Chapter 29 - Aibileen
Six months have passed, and Aibileen assumes that when the book is published her days with Mae Mobley and L'il Man—Mae Mobley's one-year-old baby brother, Ross—will be over. Aibileen cherishes her minutes with them now and tells them subversive stories of black people whenever she can. Elizabeth now requires Aibileen to feed Baby Girl only diet food because Mae Mobley is so pudgy and not thin like her mama.
After six long months of waiting and no contact, Skeeter finally delivers copies of the book, titled Help, in an unmarked brown box to Aibileen's church. She has to pretend it is only donated clothes in the box so that their clandestine project is not discovered. Aibileen watches the delivery and wishes she could run out and give Skeeter a congratulatory hug. She takes a copy to Minny, who is now six months pregnant, and they talk about the risk they have taken and what might happen when people in Jackson, black and white, begin reading the stories. Aibileen and Minny are honored at their church, where everyone already has a copy of the book and everybody seems to know the authors. The Reverend also has a book—signed by 500 church folks from throughout Mississippi—for Skeeter, whom he calls family now.
A local television station carries a book review that claims the Help is probably about Jackson. One of Elizabeth's sorority sisters is on the show saying that the book is a disgrace to all white Southern women. She claims that they treat their help like family and that all of her friends do, too. She warns the viewers not to waste their husbands' hard-earned money on the book, a warning that immediately sends Elizabeth out the door to buy it.
The maids struggle with the irony that the children that they rear eventually will grow up to be their employers. When the white children are young, the maids have authority over them granted by their parents, but they know that the children will one day assume the position of authority. Aibileen sees it as her calling to teach the children she raises a different way to be in the world. She tries to subvert the system by planting seeds of kindness and telling secret stories of "Green Martian Luther King." When Mae Mobley begins attending a Baptist preschool her teacher tells her that black people aren't smart enough to go to school. Aibileen asks if Mae Mobley thinks Aibileen is dumb because of the color of her skin, and when Mae says "no," she also concludes that her white teacher is not always right. The teacher seems to be an enforcer of the ways of the "Old" South, and Mae Mobley's questioning reveals perhaps a "New" South to come.
The theme of hope and change prevail in this chapter as the book is distributed throughout Jackson and the rest of the country. Black and white libraries are getting copies, and the maids seem proud and excited to tell their stories. Their fear of the punishment for doing so is overshadowed by their accomplishment. They feel united and powerful for having a voice.
While Elizabeth is watching the book review she is more concerned about her sorority sister's appearance than the content of what she is saying. She tells her friend on television to stop frowning because it does not make her look cute. This incident underscores Elizabeth's belief that appearances matter more than reality, and Elizabeth is portrayed as shallow. She ignores the importance of the book's message and is stirred up only by the possible controversy.