Aibileen Clark is an African American maid living in the 1960s in Jackson, Mississippi. After helping raise seventeen children in her lifetime, Aibileen knows almost everything it takes in order to care for white babies. She knows "how to get them babies to sleep, stop crying, and go in the toilet bowl before [their] mamas even get out [of] bed in the morning"(Stockett 1).
She is a kind woman and very faithful to God, yet can be very shy when taken out of her comfort zone. Her timidity is shown when she first meets Miss Skeeter, and is an afraid to be too open with her. “Aibileen is no more than cordial with me, nervous, stands at the kitchen sink and never stops working” (Stockett 96).
After losing her son Treelore in an accident, a “bitter seed” (Stockett 3) was plated inside of Aibileen. Her whole world went black that day, and after her son’s death she just didn’t feel as accepting anymore. This seed in her comes from her occasional distaste for whites, mostly because when her son was severely injured at work, his fellow white coworkers did very little to help him; resulting in his death. Her bitterness reappears throughout the book, specifically when Mrs. Leefolt calms that blacks were dirty. “I feel that bitter seed growing inside a me, the one planted after Treelore died. I want to yell so loud that Baby Girl can hear me that dirty isn’t a color, disease ain’t the Negro side a town”(Stockett 112).
But despite that seed, Aibileen manages to be sweet to little Mae Mobley. She gives Baby Girl the love and affection that her mother won’t give her because she isn’t pretty enough. Aibileen makes sure to tell Mae Mobley that she is special in her own way. She constantly tells Baby Girl to remember “you is kind, you is smart, you is important” (Stockett 521)
Yet that bitter seed gradually disappears as Aibileen grows as a character. She learns to see things past the negative and open her eyes to the hopeful side of things, and by the end of the novel Aibileen realizes that “maybe [she] ain’t too old to start over…” (Stockett 522)