The novel unfolds as Aibileen, a maid in the novel and an essential character throughout the book, begins telling her story. We as readers get to learn a little bit about her past, as she describes how through out her life she has raised seventeen children, and in her experience she is extremely knowledgeable when it comes to raising kids. She knows " how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before they mamas even get out a bed in the morning"( Stockett 1). Aibileen talks with the mannerism of the deep south, for Stockett does not neglect to add a southern drawl whenever Aibileen tells her story. But even though Aibileen does not use proper grammar, it does not take away from the wisdom that her character portrays. As she tells her story, one can tell that she has experienced a lot of different things, and seems to know what's best because of what she's seen in her life.
Further we learn that Aibileen's only child and son, Treelore, was killed in an accident when he was just twenty-four years old. He was an intelligent young man, and Aibileen knew he was going to do great things. So when she learned that he had been killed and little had been done to save him because he was black, Aibileen's world fell apart. "A bitter seed was planted inside a me. And I just didn't feel so accepting anymore." (Stockett 3)
The first chapter basically just establishes the main characters. It is a bit slow, but all books have to start somewhere. We learn that the Leefolts are struggling middle class family, and Miss Leefolt does what ever she can to impress her friends. We learn that she, Ms. Hilly, and Miss Skeeter were old friends from their college days at Old Miss. But the premise of the chapter, at least I would assume, is to establish that Miss Hilly wants it to be required for the black help to have separate bathrooms than whites, because blacks carry different diseases and it would be safer if they didn't use the same toilets. Miss Hilly outright asks Aibileen about how she'd love this idea, and Aibileen reluctantly agrees, knowing she cannot defy Miss Hilly face to face.