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Johnny Foote’s Loyalty: The Best Husband in “The Help”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Beware: there are spoilers from The Help book/movie

I read the book The Help for the first time in Middle School. It was a text-heavy book, and it was a bit intimidating for me. The book is also sensitive, because it centers around how black maids were discriminated against by their white bosses in 1960’s Mississippi. These maids and their journalist friend work together throughout the novel to expose this treatment. The Help is a historical fiction novel written by Kathryn Stockett. It was rejected to be published multiple times but was finally published in 2009. 

The main emphasis in this article, however, is on a white couple, Johnny and Celia Foote. Celia is one of the nicest people in the whole story. She treats everyone around her with kindness, even her maids. Eventually, Celia becomes good friends with her maid Minny. 

Unfortunately, Celia’s life was not fun. She had been trying to conceive a baby but ended up having three miscarriages. Johnny only knew about the first one. Each time Celia had a miscarriage, she would plant a tree over the buried fetus. 

Celia also wanted to build connections with the other white women of status at the time. Notably, she took an interest in getting to know Elizabeth Leefolt and Hilly Holbrook. The latter in particular was a very snobby person.

In one scene, Celia makes a pie for an event that Hilly is hosting. Unfortunately, when people see Celia approach, they hide under the tables, trying to trick Celia into thinking that no one is actually there. The lies are obvious though, because so many cars are lined up by Hilly’s house. 

I read all these scenes in the book. But because there was also a movie, it was easier to feel the depth of each one. Jessica Chastain, the actress who played Celia Foote, did an amazing job with her role, making Celia a very likable character.

Mike Vogel plays Johnny Foote in the movie

Fast forward to a while later, where Hilly is hosting another event called “The Benefit”, this time about raising money for a (fictional) organization called The Starving Children of Africa. I have profound respect for Johnny’s actions in this scene. 

The maids have made treats for the guests to “win.” Long story short, Hilly is convinced that Celia was trying to set her up with a laced chocolate pie (if you know, you know… that is a story for another time). 

(Drunk) Celia and Hilly get into a fight about this, and about Johnny. Hilly had always been salty about Celia’s relationship with Johnny. Hilly and Johnny used to be in a relationship, but he fell in love with Celia later on. Celia also got pregnant with Johnny’s baby, which is actually why they got married. Celia was also not as wealthy as her, so she was automatically inferior in Hilly’s eyes. 

The argument escalates when Celia accidentally rips Hilly’s sleeve in front of everyone. But Celia is so embarrassed when she throws up. Johnny then follows Celia when she runs off. All in all, this event went horribly wrong for Celia. At least Johnny was stepping in to make her feel better. 

You can watch this scene to understand everything I just explained above

The Help does not give much information on Johnny because he is a minor character. Yet, based on his actions, I can tell he is an authentic man who loves his wife for who she is. It is usually the minor characters who make the most memorable scenes, because although the audience will remember main characters, special minor characters like Johnny won’t be forgotten. 

During Celia’s latest miscarriage, Minny found her bleeding in the bathroom and immediately put her to bed and treated her. At first, Celia wanted to keep the miscarriages a secret from Johnny. It is implied that both of them want children, and Celia did not want to be a disappointment. Eventually, with Minny’s assistance, Celia tells him. Fortunately, this does not change Johnny’s love for Celia. 

In real life and in fiction, if a woman fails to produce children, her husband would leave her. It’s sad, but it’s true. Celia absolutely deserves to have a wonderful man by her side, which is why I respect Johnny so much.

It was also unfair that Celia could not have kids because she could have been the best mother. However, mean, racist women like Hilly are still able to have children? As the saying goes, all children deserve to have parents, but not all parents deserve to have children. 

Celia did not have a child in the book, but some people believe she did have some later on. It’s been so long since I read the book the whole way through, so I do not remember exact details. However, I remember Minny and her kids moving in with the Foote family at the end of the book. 

Men in real life should be like Johnny. If I had a husband, I would want him to be like Johnny: men who stick by their wives, and who are not distracted by other women. Men who are open minded. Men who would stick by their loved ones, disregarding their ability to conceive. Now that’s what I call true love. 

Jazzy Tung

CU Boulder '27

Jazzy Tung is a writer for Her Campus at University of Colorado Boulder (HCCU), and is a part of its social media team. This is her first year being a Her Campus member. She is so excited to be joining the HC team! Jazzy has always loved being involved with school media: in middle and high school, she was on the yearbook team. In her junior year of high school, she attended the National Student Leadership Conference in Washington D.C. (American University) for communication studies. That only fueled her love for journalism even more! She was also the president of her high school's Creative Writing Club. Currently, she is currently a freshman at the University of Colorado Boulder, who is majoring in journalism and planning to minor in international relations. She can't wait for the new adventures that college takes her through. Outside of school, Jazzy has a variety of interests. For example, she enjoys playing board and card games like UNO, spending time with friends and family, and surfing the internet for any interesting topic. Jazzy also has a large collection of notebooks in her room, most of which are from previous school years, that she saves in case she wants to write anything and everything later on. One of Jazzy's favorite hobbies, though, is stationery! She loves collecting pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and stickers.