Love, Forgiveness, Enlightenment: Lily’s Journey in The Secret Life of Bees

In The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Lily Owens defines herself by her mistakes; the memory of her mother’s death haunts every aspect of her life. By escaping from her old life, attempting to overcome guilt and find truth in her actions, Lily realizes that she is seeking knowledge and experience in herself, rather than forgiveness. In Tiburon, Lily learns about love; how to find it where there was once hate, how to forgive, and how to love all. Through this, Lily is able to no longer define herself by her mistakes, but what she learned from them and ultimately, learn to love herself.

Under the tyrannical control of T-ray, Lily has never been allowed opportunities to learn about love, and that one can love someone that they once hated. When Lily comes across June who at first dislikes Lily, she doesn’t realize the possibility of loving June despite her harsh ways. The racial tension at the time causes June to initially give Lily the cold shoulder because “she’s white”. June learns to accept Lily as time goes by, but it takes Lily more than time itself to do the same. Spraying June with the water hose helped Lily realize her love for June despite her initial mean ways, and allowed June to “Hug her while their clothes made sweet, squishy sounds up and down their bodies”(Kidd 170) By finally hugging June, Lily displayed the sisterly intimacy between the two girls and taught Lily how to love the person she used to despise. Learning how to love in this way helped Lily greatly, but with creating new love also comes forgiveness.

Once Lily can understand that love can be created in a place where there once was hate, she can learn to forgive. Lily’s relationship with T-ray was anything but paternal, “daddy never fit him”.(Kidd, 2), but Lily needs to realize that love comes in many forms that are not necessarily as obvious as others. T-ray’s incapability to show affection for Lily leads her to believe that he doesn’t love her, thinking “so what if he doesn’t know the color you love best?”(Kidd, 160). To Lily, not knowing or caring about the little things about her tells her that T-ray does not truly love her. However, while keeping bees, august teaches Lily “there are 32 names for love in the eskimo language”(Kidd, 140). From this Lily, concludes that if there are 32 names for love, then there are as many different types of love, T-ray’s not being the only kind she knew before. Now that Lily knows T-ray does truly love her but shows it in a way she used to not be able to comprehend, she can call him “Daddy”, a word that once did not fit him. By forgiving others, Lily can forgive herself and develop one love for all things.

In order for Lily to completely figure out what she is searching for, she has to learn how to link all of her experiences together, creating one love. Lily can never attain full inner peace with herself until she understands the concept of unity, a single love for all things and everyone. While tending to the bees. Lily desperately tries to send love to all of them, crying, “I love you, I love you. She tried to say it in 32 ways.”(Kidd. 149). Lily knows she has to achieve one love but is overwhelmed and confused, thinking that just her words and thoughts will achieve this goal. However, this goal is nothing more than a concept until Lily can perform it with her actions. Eventually Lily realizes this and “traces black Mary’s heart with her finger. You are the mother of thousands”(Kidd, 164). The spiritual black Madonna guides Lily through the process of showing and accepting love with everyone. By touching Mary’s heart, she has let Mary’s love in, therefore letting her own love out to thousands.

The process by which Lily goes through to find inner enlightenment teaches her ideas she would not have been capable of doing on her own. By learning to find love where there isn’t any, she learns to forgive, and eventually can find one inner love for all. Despite her new knowledge, Lily never comes to complete closure on the death of her mother. Likewise, it was never closure on Lily’s mistake years ago that she needed, but closure on herself and her own inner acceptance. By learning these new things, Lily is no longer defined by her mistakes, but what she learned from them and the people who helped her along the way.

Pervasive Racism in The Secret Life of Bees

Within the historic world created in The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, one of the many underlying influences in Sylvan is that of prejudice and bigotry. Many figures within society are not what they seem. The established church gives the message of hope to everybody–that is, if one is not African American. Likewise, the police protect the rights of the people–unless the people happen to be African American. Even the innocence and goodness of a child can be sullied by what the society values. In The Secret Life of Bees, the society depicted proves that racism is not only prevalent, but also lurking in the places one would least expect.

When the word “fair” comes to mind, the associated people are usually those that enforce justice; after all, justice is supposed to be blind. Although the justice system has the best intentions in the world of the novel, it seems as though the system has become corrupted; the chief enforcers of the law, the police, are seen to be infected with racism. This is demonstrated clearly when Rosaleen is allowed to be senselessly beaten by the racists in the jail cell: “After you left, that policeman called, let those men come in for their apology…two of them held me by the arms while the other one hit me” (Kidd 46). Another example arises when Zach is arrested. Although he did nothing wrong, and the real culprit could have been anybody, the police decide not to survey everybody but to round up all the blacks and send them off to jail. While justice must be served objectively, there is no objectivity in this Southern society. Rather, the bias against African Americans is so strong and prevalent that it completely clouds the judgment of the enforcers of the law. The men who are supposed to make sure that the scales of justice are equilibrated deliberately throw justice off balance.

While the term justice is associated with the police, innocence is quickly associated with children; there is nothing more innocent than the unknowing nature of a growing child. That goodness, however, can be touched, and sometimes even overtaken, by subtle pervasive behaviors that gradually seep into the mind. Lily finds out about these negative underlying factors as she first meets August: “All I could think was August is so intelligent, so cultured, and I was surprised by this. That’s what let me know I had some prejudice buried inside me” (78). Lily, who does not consider herself to be racist, always attempts to keep an open mind about others; she was even raised by Rosaleen, who is African-American. Even with these factors, Lily still harbored prejudiced thoughts about a group of people she had contact with since the death of her mother. Within Southern society, the ones who are believed to be clean of prejudices are not; they merely seem that way because everybody else is much worse. In this vision of society, there truly was no way to escape the pervasive nature of racism.

The Church is considered a clean sanctuary from secular events. Everybody is equal in the eyes of God, and because God’s love is open for everybody, the Church is the place to go for equal opportunity. However, the pervasive nature of racism contorts this message of equality into that of bigotry. Lily explains the status quo: “Every time a rumor got going about a group of Negroes coming to worship with us on Sunday morning, the deacons stood locked-arms across the church steps to turn them away” (Kidd 30). Although the Bible is supposed to be interpreted objectively and directly from the text itself, the “men of God” at the time take the interpretations into their own hands and change the very meaning of what equality in the eyes of God is. It seems that racism is so pervasive that even the men who swear that they will uphold the law of God and thus are men of biblical conduct fail.

Kidd’s novel uses examples such as these to show that our ideas of how certain aspects of society function may not be accurate. The truth, in fact, may be more problematic. Although we as humans can be good, even the most kindhearted unfortunately harbor some darkness; that is simply the human part of the continuing growth of society. It seems that the sooner we recognize this inherent darkness and aim to minimize it, the more we can aim to shut down the pervasive thoughts, whether they be of racism or hatred, from entering the conscious mind.

Mother Figures in The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is an intriguing novel written in the perspective of young Lily Owens. Lily’s story begins while she is at her home with T Ray, her evil father who despises her. She runs away with her nanny, Rosaleen, after a short scuffle with the law. She and Rosaleen hitchhike their way to Tiburon, South Carolina where they meet the Boatwright sisters who will change their lives for the better. These women take them in and treat them as if they are family even though they have just met. The women in the novel portray considerable amounts of sympathy to Rosaline and Lilly. Through the characters of June, Rosaleen, and August, Lily’s quest for maternal values is fulfilled when she finds out that these personas portray the motherly qualities of forgiveness, caring, and wisdom.

In the novel, June’s character fluctuates from the initial idea of hatred of Lily to when she loves her, which unveils the nurturing quality of forgiveness that is within her. In the beginning chapters of the book, June has a kind of hostility towards Lily that is uneasily overlooked; however, Lily soon figures out that June actually loves her. During the water fight scene, Lily is walking over the ladies and explains, “I stepped over them with the utmost care, and, seeing how careful I was, June stepped over them, too, and then, to my shock, she hugged me. June Boatwright hugged me while our clothes made sweet, squishy sounds up and down our bodies” (170). Soon after the incident, June forgives Lily for whatever she may have done to cause June to dislike her. In the ending few chapters of the book, Lily is talking to August about how she is quite unlovable. August tries to counteract her opinion stating all of the people that love her: August, Rosaleen, the Daughters, “and June, despite her ways, loves [her], too. It just took her a while longer…” (242). After their talk, one can understand why June treated Lily in such a distasteful manner, and also how June has gone through multiple self-epiphanies to forgive her. Through the character of June Boatwright, forgiveness is shown as a maternal quality that cannot be overlooked.

Since the beginning, Rosaleen has always been a key mother figure to Lily through her quality of caring. At the beginning of the story, it is Lily’s fourteenth birthday, in which T. Ray has completely ignored. Lily is upset and thinks no one really loves her until she sees Rosaleen “bearing an angel food cake with fourteen candles”, one for each of her birth years (28). This act of compassion is obvious portrayal of Rosaleen’s maternal qualities. Another instance of kindness occurs near the middle of the novel when Rosaleen confronts Lily on how she has not been with Rosaleen as much as August. She states, “Why would I be mad? Just ‘cause you spend all your time with August now ain’t no reason for me to care. You pick who you want to talk with, it’s not my business,” showing that she misses Lily (99). Rosaleen is ,in fact, jealous of August because of the extended amount of time Lily has spent with her, even though Rosaleen has always been there for Lily. Caring is a key quality of Rosaleen through her actions towards Lily in the novel.

August Boatwright, a woman of many assets, assists Lily in her journey to finding a mother with her essential trait of wisdom. One day, August takes Lily out to the hives and has a deep conversation with her about her loves and wishes. During this day, August explains to Lily about how “most people don’t have any idea about all the complicated life going on inside a hive. Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about” (148). Lily uses this spark of knowledge to relate to her daily life of secrets towards the sisters. Another symbol of wisdom that August shows Lily is through her affection towards everything. In this scene, Lily is afraid to be stung by the hundreds of bees swarming throughout the hive while she and August are beekeeping. To calm her, August tells Lily to “act like you know what you’re doing, even if you don’t. Above all, send the bees love. Every little thing wants to be loved” (92). Eventually because of this advice, Lily becomes less afraid of the bees and learns to love them and anything that is frightening her. Through multiple examples, August Boatwright is depicted as a character that has the ability to guide Lily throughout her life with her maternal value of wisdom.

Though her life at home was terrible, Lily stumbles upon three women that will flip everything upside down. In the beginning, June Boatwright is known as a non-forgiving and rude woman to Lily; however, she begins to adore Lily throughout the novel showing her forgiveness. Rosaleen has always been a mother figure for Lily who offers Lily her care. August is the epitome of wisdom for Lily, which gives her a motherly bond like no one else. These three principal characters are essential for Lily to learn what true motherhood is.

The Role of Nature in The Secret Life of Bees

In The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, Lily feels lost without a mother to lead her step by step through life. However, with her escape to Tiburon, Lily finally finds support and consolation through new experiences and exposures. Specifically, Lily is able to discover an alternative mother figure: nature. Unlike her mother, nature is not a fleeting presence or a mere wisp of a memory. Lily finds inner peace and comfort in nature, since it is always present and constantly renewing itself, a trait that Lily never found in her mother. Deborah is absent through most of Lily’s life, a fleeting figure. Lily asks T-Ray about her mother and is disappointed: “I did manage to get a few scraps of information from him… my mother was buried in Virginia where her people came from. I got worked up at that, thinking I’d found a grandmother. No, he tells me, my mother was an only child whose mother died four years ago” (13). Lily’s lack of a grandmother further emphasizes her mother’s absence, since even the closest family connections to Deborah are nonexistent. Lily comments about missing her mother, “The oddest things caused me to miss her. Like training bras. Who was I going to ask about that?” (13). For a long time, Lily has not had a mother to physically attend to her needs and guide her through life. Even the small things, such as training bras, remind her everyday of her mother’s absence. Lily is often confused and unsure about her mother, always reminded of her own ignorance: “I started thinking maybe I should find out what I could about my mother… But where to start? The night seemed like an ink blot I had to figure out. I sat there and studied the darkness, trying to see through it to some sliver of light” (101). Lily’s thoughts about her mother are like muddled “ink blots”; she is often perturbed by how little she knows, and is constantly reminded of the times she never spent with her mother, never finding any leads to her mother’s true self. From her days with T-Ray to her days in Tiburon, Lily is always aware of the briefness of Deborah’s life. Lily describes the nightmare about her mother as a cockroach as follows: “If I told you right now that I never wondered about that dream, never closed my eyes and pictured her with roach legs… with her worst nature, exposed, I would be… lying. A roach is a creature no one can love, but you cannot kill it. It will go on and on and on. Just try to get rid of it.” (175) Since Lily has been separated from her mother for so long, she feels blind to her mother’s true faults. Her doubts and questions “go on and on and on” and continue to bother her in the back of her mind. Deborah appears as a cockroach, with the identity of a stranger and an unfamiliar pest. Lily scrutinizes her mother’s picture before her journey to Tiburon: “You could not believe the stories I saw in that picture… I laid the photograph beside my eighth-grade picture and examined every possible similarity” (13). Lily takes what little information she has about her mother and tries to extract any guesses or images about her mother’s personality. She cannot grasp her mother’s true personality, and therefore is always unsure and doubting. Lily’s insecurities stem from the fact that she doesn’t fully understand her mother, instead taking guesses and never standing on stable ground. Conversely, nature is present throughout Lily’s life as a continually replenished and renewed force, unlike Lily’s mother. Lily describes the scene of the water fight, recalling: “Squirrels and Carolina wrens hopped as close as they dared and drank from the puddles and you could almost see the blades of brown grass lift themselves up and turn green” (168). In Tiburon, Lily begins to notice the cycle of rebirth in nature. Even in the scorching heat of the summer, the grass can grow again and renew itself with its limited resources. Lily notices that nature continues to live on in difficult circumstances. Lily also states, reflecting on May’s death after Mary Day: “You could die in a river, but maybe you could get reborn in it, too, like the beehive tombs August had told me about” (229). Despite the recent death of May, Lily recognizes the river as an unbroken cycle of life rather than a destructive force. Nature is a consistent and constant force in Lily’s life, continuing to thrive no matter the circumstances. Meanwhile, Lily finds peace and comfort in the continuity of nature. Lily reflects on the river after May’s death: “I wanted the river. Its wildness. I wanted to… suck river stones the way I’d done that night Rosaleen and I’d slept by the creek. Even May’s death had not ruined the river for me. The river had done its best… to give May a peaceful ride out of this life” (229). Lily is comforted by the river during a time of grieving, knowing it will continue to flow as it always has. Lily depends on the river as a source of retreat and consolation, since it remains consistent despite the ravages of time. In another one of Lily’s nightmares, she envisions nature falling apart: “In my dream…. I could see a huge, round moon in the sky… Next I heard a sound like ice breaking, and, looking up, saw the moon crack apart and start to fall. I had to run for my life. I woke with my chest hurting. I searched for the moon and found it in all in one piece, still spilling light over the creek” (54). Lily wakes up in a panic because nature, her consolation and comfort, disintegrates in her dream. She has long been dependent on nature, and when it disappears in a dream, Lily is fearful and insecure once again. Nature is a needed support system, a balm, a shield. By the end of the book, nature becomes an unwavering and long-lasting mother figure for Lily, replacing Deborah. Gradually, Lily learns to find love, comfort and support in everyday events in her life, ranging from bee keeping to wading in a river. Consolation and emotional support come to her in other forms. In addition, nature teaches Lily to thrive and live on despite difficult circumstances, allowing her to accept the truth of her mother and create a unique identity for herself in the midst of racial prejudice.

The Concept of Monomyth in Kidd’s Secret Life of Bees

In Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, Joseph Campbell’s concept of the monomyth is employed to develop Lily’s journey from a lack of familial recognition and worthlessness into a new life of true meaning and appreciation. Joseph Campbell argues that all stories are essentially the same because of their relation to the monomyth. Throughout this journey, the hero undergoes three critical phases, which include the departure, initiation, and return. They must overcome barriers and may drift away into peril, but will eventually gain the freedom to live. Along with applying the theory of monomyth to works of fiction, Campbell also utilized the idea of archetypes created by Carl Jung. He used them to discover the profound meanings behind myth and religion. More importantly, these archetypes are present in novels to express the collective unconscious and are a significant part of the hero’s journey. In every monomyth, the hero must first leave his or her home in order to embark on an empowering journey. This first step is known as the departure. In Kidd’s novel, Lily follows many of the same steps of the departure as were described by Joseph Campbell. Lily’s first action in the voyage is when she is called to the adventure. After T. Ray takes Lily home from jail, she is sent to her room; they engage in an argument concerning Lily’s mother. T. Ray laughs, “ ‘The woman could have cared less about you.’ Lily says, ‘That’s not true, it’s not’” (Kidd 39). After this indignant comment from T. Ray, Lily feels completely empty inside. Throughout her entire young life, Lily has lacked a strong mother archetype and is now realizing that she must go on a sort of journey in order to re-establish this archetype within her collective unconscious. Many heroes are also given the help of something that is beyond their world, a type of paranormal support. Joseph Campbell states that another move along the road of departure includes the assistance of a supernatural aid. As Lily is sitting in her room after T. Ray scolds her, she hears a voice inside her head. Lily thinks, “ I heard a voice say, Lily Melissa Owens, your jar is open. In a matter of seconds I knew exactly what I had to do- leave” (Kidd 41). Lily is given the incentive to leave the house from the voice inside her head. To her, it transforms into a rare opportunity in which she is given justification to abandon her home and do better for herself. Later in the novel, August describes the sound that Lily hears in her mind as the voice of Mary. Throughout the duration of the novel, Lily applies this voice within herself as a guide that leads her down the path of her unconscious mind. Now that Lily has decided that she must leave T. Ray, she must take her first steps away from home. Campbell refers to this stage of the departure as crossing the first threshold. Lily crosses this limit after she gathers all of her possessions and writes a letter to T. Ray. Lily’s letter says, “’Dear T. Ray, don’t bother looking for me. Lily. P.S. People who tell lies like you should rot in hell’”(Kidd 42). Lily has truly crossed the point of no return; she now must disappear because after T. Ray finds this letter, she knows he will severely punish her. She has no alternative other than to continue on her journey away from home. Campbell refers to the first challenge of the hero as “the belly of the whale.” This experience will test the will of the hero and supply him or her with the necessary ideals to continue. Lily encounters her first major test after she decides that she must free Rosaleen. Lily goes to the hospital to which Rosaleen has been consigned and proceeds to call a nurse in the colored section of the hospital while pretending to be the jailer`s wife. Lily states, “ ‘Mr. Gaston wants you to send the policeman that we`ve got there back to the station. Tell him the preacher is on his way to sign some papers, and Mr. Gaston can’t be here cause he had to leave just now’” (Kidd 48). With the policeman gone, Lily and Rosaleen are able to escape. Telling such a lie was a difficult test for Lily because she must defy the law in order to help Rosaleen escape. This trial shows that Lily is competent and has the will power she needs in order to complete her adventure. At this point in the novel, Lily has completed the stage of departure. The situations that Lily must overcome in the steps of the departure show how Lily is following Campbell’s theory of monomyth.There is a significant amount of evidence that the initiation phase of the monomyth exists in The Secret Life of Bees. Lily begins the road of trials when she starts the journey to August’s house. During this journey, Lily begins her terrible habit of lying. Lily tells a lie to a salesman that she meets, right before finding out where her mother received the picture of the black Mary. “ ‘I don’t believe I’ve seen you before,’ he said. ‘I’m not from around here. I’m visiting my grandmother’” (Kidd 62). Lily has begun to step out of her normal routine by telling lies, which is something that she would have never done back at her home with T. Ray because she knew it was morally wrong and unethical. Shortly after reaching August’s house, Lily has the meeting with the goddess, or god in this case. This character serves as another role in Campbell’s monomyth. Lily is instantly charmed by Zachary’s looks and behavior. Lily thought, “At my school they made fun of colored people’s lips and noses. I myself had laughed at these jokes, hoping to fit in. Now I wished I could pen a letter to my school to be read at opening assembly that would tell them how wrong we’d all been” (Kidd 116). Zachary is Lily’s god in the story, because she consistently finds him amazing and lovable. To Lily, Zach is flawless; he is a substitute father figure in a way, because he possesses all of the positive, upstanding qualities that T. Ray lacks as a father. Once Lily realizes that Zach has all of these qualities she has never admired in a male before, Zach becomes her god. Not only does Lily have Zach to distract her from the task at hand, but she also has a voice inside of her that is a temptation, wafting her away from the true path. In Lily’s case, the true path is to ascertain the truth about her mother. Lily wants so passionately to reveal the truth to August about who she is and why she has arrived, but something is increasing her resistance. August says, “ ‘You know, don’t you, that the two of us need to have a good talk. And this time not about me. About you’” (Kidd 152). “’I suppose,’ I answered. ‘What about right now?’‘Not right now’” (Kidd 152).Although Lily wants August to know the truth, there is one little voice inside her head telling her that she cannot do that because she is not ready to comes to terms with reality quite yet. After finally eliminating this distracting voice, Lily finds out who her mother was, why she knew August, and why she had left. “T.Ray had told me she came back for her things. But she’d come back for me, too. She’d wanted to bring me here, to Tiburon, to August’s” (254). Lily achieves atonement with her mother here and forgives her when she realizes that her mother did love her after all. The same quote can be used to describe Lily’s ultimate boon. Lily also realizes here that her mother did not leave her, but was actually planning to bring Lily into a new and better life with her. Lily had someone that truly loved her, and to her, that is all that she ever needed to know. Ever since the night that T. Ray told Lily that her mother never cared about her, Lily nearly went insane wondering if T. Ray was telling the truth. What if her mother never did love her? Knowing that somebody actually did provided her with the self-confidence necessary to maintain her journey.The last section of Campbell’s monomyth structure is the departure. Within this final chapter, Lily succeeds in her journey to find out information about her mother. The first part of the departure is the refusal of the return. T. Ray finds Lily at the Boatwrights, barges in on her blissful life, and insists that she come home with him. Lily’s refusal of the return is when she rejects this unappealing offer. She tells him this firmly, yet he does not allow her to stay with August. In Campbell’s “the rescue from without”, August and the Daughters of Mary step in and allow Lily stand up to her father. August tells T .Ray that Lily is welcome to stay with her. Also, August and Rosaleen call and gather all the Daughters of Mary: “The front door opened, and Queenie, Violet, Lunelle, and Maybelee stumbled into the house, all wound up and looking like they had their clothes on backwards” (297). The Daughters knew Lily was in trouble and they had come to rescue her from T.Ray. Lily finally crosses the return threshold when T.Ray allows her to stay with August. ‘Good riddance’ is all he says to her upon her final departure from his life. He does not give her a hug or show any sign of compassion when he gives his daughter over to a complete stranger. After crossing the return threshold, Lily becomes the master of two worlds when she conquers her unconscious and her persona. In terms of Jung, this is an enormous step for a person to jump. She becomes aware of herself and does not care about what others think of her. When Lily and her friend go to visit Zach at his school with all white people, they are made fun of for wanting to be with him. “We have reputations as ‘nigger lovers,’ which is how it is put to us, and when the ignoramuses ball up their notebook paper and throw it at Zach in the hallway…Becca and I are just as likely to get popped in the head as he is. Zach says we should walk on the other side of the hall from him. We say, ‘Balled-up notebook paper- big deal’”(301). Not only does Lily not care about being called a “nigger lover,” but also she is willing to take a hit or two for her friend. She has grown tremendously throughout the novel and has finally mastered her two worlds. At the end, Lily receives the freedom to live. Lily begins the novel without any solid parental archetypes; however, throughout her journey she gains many maternal role models: “I go back to that one moment when I stood in the driveway with small rocks and clumps of dirt around my feet and looked back at the porch. And there they were. All these mothers. I have more mothers than any eight girls off the street. They are the moons shining over me” (302). Lily succeeds on her quest to find information about her mother, and she also succeeds in realizing much more. She gains a family that was definitely needed and wanted. She loves her new family with all her heart, and she knows they love her unconditionally. Joseph Campbell’s theory of the monomyth is evident throughout The Secret Life of Bees, and it demonstrates the depth of the hero’s journey. It is apparent how Lily goes through each of the three phases and lucratively fulfills her main aspiration. The archetypes can also be seen in the progression of the story, and it can be said that Lily even realizes the Self during her journey. Sue Monk Kidd’s novel is just one of the many works that can be understood within the monomyth because of its precise development and universal meaning.

Insights from 1964: The Case Against Setting ‘The Secret Life of Bees’ in a Later Time Period

Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd features a young, caucasian girl, Lily, who lives with three African American sisters, the Boatwrights. The novel takes place in Sylvan and Tiburon, South Carolina during 1964: high time for the civil rights movement. Throughout the novel, Lily sees a lot of racial injustice, but if the novel took place after the civil rights movement it would not have had the same effect, because the racial discrimination was not as prominent then. Even if the novel took place before the civil rights movement, there still wouldn’t have been the same effect, because before then, there was little push for civil rights, and there was little talk of racial advancements in the media.

After May’s death, a police officer asks Lily, “Didn’t you have any white people back in Spartanburg you could stay with?” (page 197) and “These are colored people […] it’s not natural, that you shouldn’t be… well, lowering yourself,”(page 198). This shows how African Americans were regarded in 1964; the police officer thought it was odd for a white person to live with a black person. On the other hand, if this took place after the civil rights movement, it would not be uncommon for black and white people to live together. Therefore, if the story was not set in that time, the police officer’s words would not have had the same effect that they do. Lily’s love interest, Zach, was a teenaged African American male. Throughout the novel, Zach refuses Lily’s advances because he knows that society would be against them being together. For example, after Zach gets Lily a notebook, Lily throws her arms around him and leans into his chest in an embrace, but Zach takes her off and tells her, “There are people who would kill boys like me for even looking at girls like you,” (page 135). Kidd’s use of the phrases “girl like you” and “boy like me” suggest that Zach is referring to their racial differences. They can not be together because Zach is black and Lily is white. If this was written after the civil rights movement, it wouldn’t be uncommon for interracial partners, so this quote would not put forth the same image of racial discrimination and Zach’s concerns would not have the give the reader the same amount of understanding.

At one point, Lily says “We had a rumor about a busload of people from New York City showing up to integrate the city pool. Talk about Panic. We has a citywide emergency in our hands, as there is no greater affliction for our southern mind than people up north coming down to fix our way of life.” (page 155) The setting of the story is essential for this quote because this was the only point in time where the Northern and Southern parts of the United States felt this way about each other. Kidd would not be able to include this part if she changed the setting. The loss of this line would have taken away from the meaning of the novel, because not only does it provide an accurate description of one of the racial issues during the time, but it also shows how lily’s point of view is changing. This line gives off a sarcastic feel to show how Lily knows what they want her to think, but she thinks it is ridiculous.

Finally, during a dinner, the characters discuss a real life person, Jack Palance. Jack Palance, a caucasian celebrity, brought a non-white woman into the white section of a theater. This enraged many of the caucasian people at the time. It was not socially acceptable for a white man to treat a black person as an equal. The time period is important for this section because Jack Palance is part of the 1960s and again, racial discrimination was not as prominent after the civil rights movement.Furthermore, it would have been difficult for Kidd to choose a time period after 1964 in general, because of the technological advancement that occurred during the industrial revolution. The whole novel is based around the premise that Lily was able to break her servant, Rosaleen, out of jail and runaway to Tiburon. If this novel occurred in modern times, Lily would not have been able to get away with what she did because it would have been easier to track them down, so they would have to stay hidden.

Regardless of the technological advancements, Sue Monk Kidd would have had to make the novel take place in South Carolina in 1964 because the racial discrimination issues were prominent at this point in time. If Kidd chose a different time period, the racial issues would not have been as essential of an issue, so it would limit Kidd’s ability to discuss the problems. In order for the reader to get the most understanding and connection out of the novel, Kidd would have to choose 1964 as the time period and location of the novel.

The Nature Of Grief : Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life Of Bee’s

Melancholy leaves an engraving on the individuals who encounter it. Some can survive its profound distress, others can’t. In the Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, she investigates the impact of distress on the primary characters. The novel opens with fourteen-year-old Lily Owns battling with the learning that her mom was dead since she, as a baby, grabbed a stacked weapon and coincidentally shot her. She flees from her damaging father in scan for answers of who her mom was. Lily bums a ride to Tiburon, South Carolina; the area composed on the back of a picture of the Black Madonna – one of the main effects she has of her mother’s. There, she finds a pink house possessed by the Boatwright sisters who are African American ladies influencing Black Madonna to nectar. The Boatwright sisters have had their offer of melancholy with the demise of two of their sisters and the racial bigotry they look notwithstanding the entry of the Civil Rights Act.

The Boatwright sisters and Lily Owens have diverse techniques for adapting to melancholy; disguising, disregarding, and overlooking are a portion of the ways they adapt, with shifting degrees of achievement. They find that they should live past their melancholy, or else it will shred them. August is the oldest Boatwright sister, and she is the best at managing despondency. She encountered the suicides of two sisters, however she figured out how to hold her hopefulness and point of view, not at all like June or May. One-way August gives up sorrow is through religion. She is the pioneer of a gathering called the Daughters of Mary – a gathering of African-American ladies who venerate Our Lady of Chains. August “shows the Madonna’s intelligence and insurance, offsetting June’s over the top scholarly characteristics and May’s extreme enthusiastic characteristics”. Her capacity to be quiet and solid under any situation is exceptional and excellent. August comprehends that sorrow is simply one more part of life: the torment it causes is adjusted by the delight of different minutes. She adapts to sadness by helping other people through their trials. August trusts one must get themselves “on strong ground, get [their] heart supported up… [and] know when to push and when to be tranquil, when to give things a chance to take their course” (Kidd 236).

Regardless of how discouraged, she is feeling, August will overlook her own agony if it implies helping another with their distress. Distress has assumed an extensive part in her life, yet August has dependably stayed consistent with herself, and put other’s needs over her own. She doesn’t give sadness a chance to remove the delight of her life like June does, nor does she give it a chance to wreck her life like May did. August does not expect flawlessness and acknowledges the distress, natural in life as divided as the delight. She comprehends that distress is characteristic throughout everyday life, so she figures out how to acknowledge it and proceed onward from it. She permits herself an opportunity to lament, yet in addition realizes that lamenting won’t comprehend anything. There is an opportunity to overlook, however don’t give that time a chance to detract from what is genuinely vital: confidence, companionship, and family. June is the second oldest of the Boatwright sisters. Her strategy for adapting to despondency includes playing her cello and closing our offensiveness. Rather than discussing her pain, she “resort[s] to her cello, the way she generally [does] when distress c[o]me[s] along” (Kidd 185). The cello is known to have a serious, despairing sound and can be an unpleasant articulation of sorrow. June plays her cello for the individuals who are near biting the dust, serenading those close passing.

Playing the cello is a discharge for June, and a wellspring of solace for those diminishing, as their spirit is lifted to paradise close by her music. June is the most debilitated of the sisters. She comprehends the preference dark individuals look consistent and winds up frustrated about any expectation of balance. She is “disenthralled, mindful, and dislikes to grasp new things” (Miline 233). June’s understanding of losing a sister who conferred suicide instead of live in the racially narrow-minded South, brings about switch prejudice where she declines to trust or acknowledge white individuals. She endures Lily’s essence keeping in mind August. June responds to distress by closing out anything that can possibly hurt her. She is wary about sentimental contribution. Being abandoned in the holy place left a scar on June and results in her solidifying out her beau. In any case, after May commits suicide, June weds Neil in light of the fact that “May needed her to carry on with her life completely without fear” (Miline 233). Like her cello, June is the most serious and despairing of the Boatwright sisters. She permitted her melancholy from disaster, misfortune, and racial bias to harmfully influence her life. June comes to comprehend that her despondency holds her back and winds up resolved to live as May would need her to; with affection and chuckling. She believed that the best way to control her distress was to close.

June shaped herself to live without feeling since her feelings are what made distress show. In doing as such, she closes out any expectation of bliss nearby all the dread of the awful. June managed melancholy by closing out the dismal parts of life and unintentionally closing out the great angles as well, until the point that May’s suicide constrained her to change. This change enabled her to see that closing everything out was not the best approach to adopt. It enabled June to carry on with her life again and see it for satisfaction, and not distress. May is the most receptive to pain and the minimum effective at adapting to it of the sisters. Her twin, April, committed suicide after encountering racial foul play. May was to a great degree associated with April, so when she passed on, “something in May kicked the bucket as well… [I]t appeared like the world itself turned into May’s twin sister” (Kidd 97). The passing of a relative is difficult for surviving relatives yet inquire about proposed that that same experience is substantially harder on twins, particularly indistinguishable twins. May comprehends on a fantastically profound level the torment of death, thus she really comprehends and laments nearby other people who have encountered misery. She shares the anguish of everybody, even those she finds out about on TV. To support herself, may manufactured a “moaning divider.” She records the agony and hopelessness that she conveys in her heart on pieces of paper and packs them in the middle of the stones.

May likewise irately murmurs “Goodness, Susanna” with an end goal to keep the misery she conveys from getting to be deplorable and overpowering her. Here and there these techniques are insufficient, and May implodes with anguish. After hearing that a dark man was severely and foolishly executed, May “shook forward and backward, slapping her arms and scratching at her face” (Kidd 89). April’s passing tore away any security May have had and abandons her as an uncovered, anguished nerve. August and June endeavor to shield May from catching wind of the horrendous things that are going ahead as integration is showing the scornful savagery against blacks. It is difficult to completely secure May and when she discovers a companion was shamefully placed in prison, she believes she can’t ingest any more despondency. She requests to be allowed to sit unbothered at the howling divider, however May goes to the stream and uses a substantial shake to bind herself to the base. Administering to everybody around her brought about a “burst of affection and anguish that [came] so frequently into her face [and which ended up] burn[ing] her up” (Kidd 199). The heaviness of despondency she disguised was unthinkable for the pure, presented May to tolerate.

Despite her incapacitating sadness, may is “excessively sympathetic… with her heart outwardly of her chest” (Miline 233). Her distress did not take away her generosity; it just stripped way her guards and prompted her demise. May treated others with the delicacy that she so frantically looked for and would never have in view of the opening left by the loss of April. Past simply the despondency, May couldn’t endure life. Her sisters attempted to conceal reality from her and it brought about her passing. May was unequipped for managing life, however maybe on the off chance that she had been given it more regularly, news of a companion’s setback would not be her deplorable last distress. Lily Owens encountered an unexpected misery in comparison to that of the Boatwright sisters; hers stems from surrender. When she was extremely youthful, her mother left Lily with her damaging father, and when her mom came back to take Lily away with her, she and Lily’s dad got in a battle. Lily guiltlessly attempted to remove a stacked firearm from her folks and coincidentally pulled the trigger which prompted her mom’s demise. Lily was compelled to live with her irate, harsh father who asserts that Lily’s mom never adored both of them and had relinquished them and never had a goal to return for Lily. A mother was “all [Lily] needed… [and Lily] took her away” (Kidd 8).

Lily should live with the despondency that her mom deserted her, as well as that her mom was slaughtered considering Lily’s unintended activity. Lily needs to be cherished, yet her dad is unequipped for affection. T. Beam takes his misery about losing his better half out on his little girl and enables his distress to wreck his humankind. His “for the most part cold blooded conduct represents [Lily’s] envy of the opportunity of bumble bees” (Brown 11). Lily is confronted day by day with the anguish of her dead mother and her heartless father. Lily faces the world without the familial love and direction, such huge numbers of other kids have. The Secret Life of Bees is a first-individual Bildungsroman where the character particularly moving for her situation, as she needs to persist in such a great amount without the advice and direction of a cherishing guardian. Lily’s initial life is overcome with the pain that has originated from the horrendous surrender and the unintentional passing of her mom and oppressive activities of her dad.

While T. Beam revealed to Lily her mom had deserted them, she demands not trusting him. So, when she finds that her mom had gone to the Boatwright’s home and lived there soon after Lily was conceived, it is about a lot for her. Lily ended up devastate with the sadness that the one lady on the planet who, she thought, gave her unqualified love had relinquished her. Lily communicates this sadness when she goes to Our Lady of Chains, requesting that Our Lady “settle [her,]” inquiring as to whether her mom is “OK up there with God [,]” and requesting “T. Beam [to] cherish [her]” (Kidd 164). These requests uncover Lily’s sentiments of deficiency and brokenness. She needs somebody to trust in, and finds that quickly through Our Lady, however she is frightened of trusting in August for fear she too will need to surrender her after hearing reality that she fled from her dad. Lily can’t keep her mystery perpetually, and her hunger for knowing for certain if her mom truly abandoned her exceeds her dread of being come back to her dad.

By trusting in August, Lily ends up “making a course for a compromise with herself, as well as with her history and her future” (Brown 11). The adoration and group of the Boatwright sisters relieve Lily’s horrible engraving of distress. Lily ventured to every part of the most remote on her transitioning venture in managing sadness; from a relinquished, anguish-stricken kid, to a protected, develop young lady. Encountering the demise of a mother and a dear companion, and watching others be abused in view of the shade of their skin at such a youthful age could have been extremely negative for Lily, as it was for May. Lily joins the Boatwright family and this solid, cherishing, strong sisterhood furnishes her with the establishment to acknowledge and welcome life in the greater part of its ideal blemish. Pain assumed an extensive part in the lives of the Boatwright sisters and Lily Owens. They each experienced demise, shamefulness, and misery. Melancholy affected and left an engraving on every one of them. Pain demonstrated deadly for May. August realized that anguish was simply one more part of life; that it must be acknowledged and afterward left before. June and Lily figured out how to not give melancholy a chance to manage their lives. Life isn’t innately great or awful – occasions not exclusively blissful or intolerable – it is transcendent in its ideal blemish