Dr. Jeryl Prescott-Sales
February 7th, 2013
Constantine: The Great
Why do bad things happen to good people, they would say. The ones who have the sweetest hearts and touches someone’s lives are always the one who have been through a lot, but it’s not so obvious. It seems like they are trying to hide the pain and suffering, behind their righteous ways. Maybe if they can help others it can somehow, some way help them restore whatever has been broken. In the novel The Help, Constantine is a maid who loves Skeeter and raises her. In the beginning of the book you hear good things like how motherly she is to Skeeter but it isn’t until you read more that you realized what kind of woman Constantine really is. A woman living with a love lost and who does fit the stereotype of the typical maid/mammy figure.
Skeeter learns what really happened to Constantine from Aibileen. Before leaving the Phelans, Constantine is reunited with her daughter Lulabelle whom she gave up for adoption when she was 4 years old. At the time, She was ashamed to have a white daughter. She was the trending topic whenever she was seen with her daughter, by of course the white woman of the town and surprisingly enough by the African American woman. She couldn’t take it anymore and felt that it was the right thing to do. Not just for her but also for her daughter. Soon after making such a traumatic decision she then realized her mistake and wrote a letter to the adoption agency, only to find out that Lulabelle was already adopted. The pain of losing her child lived with her and she vowed that if she ever had to chance to be reunited with her daughter she would never let her go again.
Happily, Lulabelle comes to Longleaf to reunite with her mother at the same time Charlotte Phelan is hosting a DAR meeting at her home. While Constantine is in the kitchen, Lulabelle mingles with the guests, “acting white.” When Charlotte discovered who she is, she demands that Lulabelle must leave by the back door. After Lulabelle spits in Charlotte’s face and refuses to leave, Charlotte forbids Constantine to see her daughter for as long as she works for the Phelans. Undeniably Constantine chose her daughter and left the Phelans.
Constantine was the motherly figure in Skeeter’s life. Skeeter's relationship with Constantine is the foundation to which Skeeter's attitudes towards black people is built. Constantine is a constant, positive presence in Skeeter's life. The contrary relationships between Skeeter and Constantine and Skeeter and her mother are best summed up on page 65. "It was having someone look at you after your mother has nearly fretted herself to death because you are freakishly tall and frizzy and odd. Someone whose eyes simply said, without words, “you are fine with me." While Skeeter's mother criticizes her constantly, Constantine accepts her the way she is. “How tall is you?” Constantine asks. “Five-eleven.” Skeeter bemoans. “I’m already taller than the boys’ basketball coach.” “Well, I’m five-thirteen, so quit feeling sorry for yourself.” (Pg. 63) She knows exactly what to say to foster her confidence. “I was in attic, looking down at the farm,” I tell her. “I could see the tops of the trees.” “You gone be a brain surgeon! Top a the house mean the head.” (Pg. 63) Constantine response to Skeeter, although might be seen a bit sarcastic is just what a girl her age in the 60s needed to hear. Constantine substituted her love to Skeeter with the love for her daughter. From the irregularities that Skeeter sees to the conversations that they share. Constantine responds in a way that she would, if she were to speak to and/or have a relationship with her daughter. Skeeter is the stand-in daughter that Constantine needed.