Summary and Analysis
Skeeter, too, thinks she heard a scream in the middle of the night. She worries that the book is a mistake and that the price to pay is too high. She wants to leave Mississippi and has sent her resume, with Elaine Stein as a reference, to 15 publishers in New York City. She feels stifled in Jackson, but ashamed at the thought of leaving Aibileen alone. Skeeter realizes that the scream she heard came from herself, from her own feelings of suffocation.
While Skeeter is at the drugstore picking up her mother's medicine, she runs into Elizabeth and Lou Anne at the lunch counter. They tell her that everyone thinks Skeeter wrote the book and that the chocolate pie incident is probably about Hilly. Skeeter tries to deny it all, but Lou Anne says it does not matter. Lou Anne suffers from depression and is devoted to her maid, Louvenia, who helps her through it. Lou Anne says she'd never fire Louvenia and that Hilly will not be getting her vote for League president again.
Hilly shows up at Skeeter's house to tell Charlotte about the book, but when she finds her so changed from the illness, she decides not to. Hilly threatens Skeeter with a lawsuit and says she knows who every maid in the book is and will not rest until they are punished. Skeeter reminds her of the chocolate pie and Hilly denies it was her.
Skeeter receives a job offer to be an assistant to an editor at Harper's in New York City, and Aibileen and Minny convince her to take it.
Skeeter is surprised to learn that Lou Anne may not be like the rest of the Southern white women. She does not flatter herself to think her book has changed anyone's mind in Jackson, but she does feel relief that she no longer has to sit with Hilly and Elizabeth and pretend she agrees with them. Her isolation is lonely, and even though she is happy with her new found truth, she is frustrated with how stuck she feels. When she receives a job offer in New York, she does not feel she can take it and leave the impending mess Hilly is planning for Aibileen and Minny alone. Ironically, it is Aibileen and Minny who tell her she must go because her future in Jackson is over. Skeeter's sacrifice brings her final reward.
Skeeter's thoughts about what her life might have been like reveal how trapped she would have been if she had chosen the same path as her mother and her friends. She imagines the safety and boredom of attending bridge, having a husband, and playing tennis. She is glad that she wrote the book and chose a different path, but the choice comes with a risk and requires her to be brave and independent. This mirrors the criticism Aibileen has in the next chapter of Elizabeth who is so far trapped inside her own mind that she does not realize the woman in the book is even her. Elizabeth is simply repeating the pattern she was taught about how to be a white woman in Jackson, Mississippi, rather than questioning her own reality.