Summary and Analysis
Chapters 27-28 - Skeeter
President Kennedy has just been assassinated, and Skeeter's mother is succumbing to cancer. Skeeter calls Elaine Stein and learns that the book has to be finished by the end of the year or it will not be considered for publication. Stein also tells Skeeter that she must include a section about Constantine. Aibileen decides to tell her the truth: that Constantine gave birth to a white-skinned baby and had to send it to an orphanage when the child was four years old. The baby was adopted, but then Constantine and Lulabelle were reunited when she was an adult. Skeeter realizes that Lulabelle must have been the surprise the Constantine promised her in her last letter, but Skeeter never met her because Constantine died in Chicago just three weeks after she left the Phelan family.
Skeeter is being shunned by Hilly and the women in the League. She is replaced by Hilly as the editor of the newsletter. Skeeter admits to paying Pascagoula's brothers to go to the junkyard and take those toilets to Hilly's lawn. Hilly's husband loses his election. Skeeter thinks Hilly blames her for everything.
Stuart shows up on Skeeter's doorstep. He went to California to make sure he was over his ex-girlfriend and now he wants to make up with Skeeter, but she is too busy working on the book and too heartbroken to care. She thinks her mother will object to her rejection of Stuart, but Mrs. Phelan surprises her by saying "Don't you let him cheapen you." Her mother says she is kind and intelligent and any man who does not know it is not worth it. Her kindness gives Skeeter the energy and motivation to work even harder. Stuart and Skeeter eventually reconcile and begin dating again. He asks her to marry him, but when she tells him the truth about the book, he withdraws his proposal and leaves.
Skeeter, Aibileen, and Minny finish the book, but they decide to put in the story of Hilly's chocolate pie as insurance that they will always be anonymous. Hilly would never admit it is her story because she'd also be revealing what she ate. They send the book to Elaine Stein, who decides to publish it.
Skeeter understands what it is like to fear Hilly. She knows if they get caught writing the book Hilly would make them all suffer. That fear is similar to what the maids endure just to put food on own their tables. Skeeter is isolated and rejected even further by her people, and she finds not having a place is a very lonely place indeed. She is caught between two worlds, neither of which she can belong to. Her impossible position mirrors Constantine's fate, as well, as a black woman who gave birth to a white-skinned baby and could call neither side her home. Skeeter also sees the parallels between how her mother sees "those people," meaning blacks and Hilly's own racist views.
The complexity of Charlotte Phelan's character is a major development in this chapter. She sides with her daughter and tells her Stuart probably does not deserve her. This encouragement is unusual coming from a woman who has told Skeeter that she had better find a man, any man, before it is too late. But when the truth about Constantine is revealed, Charlotte is not seen in a positive light. When Constantine's daughter, Lulabelle, shows up at the Phelans' house, she behaves as a regular white guest eating cake and attending the DAR meeting. Charlotte is devastated and kicks out both Lulabelle and Constantine from her home. Lulabelle spits in Charlotte's face while she is leaving, but no one else at the DAR meeting sees it. Like Hilly, Charlotte would be annihilated by her own kind if they learned the truth so she has kept it a secret even from her own daughter. Charlotte's deteriorating health is devastating to the family as they learn that she only has a few more weeks to live.
The relationship between Stuart and Skeeter becomes impossible once he learns about the book. When Stuart travelled to see his ex-girlfriend, she called him a whore to his father and to the state of Mississippi. Stuart was appalled because she was the one who cheated on him, but her words ring true when Stuart quickly dumps Skeeter because of her integrationist beliefs. Skeeter and Stuart have no future together because their views on race are incompatible. Stuart represents the institutionalized "Old" South, and Skeeter represents a more progressive "New" South.