The Secret Life of Bees
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.
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 Truth About The Secret Life of Bees
In the novel, The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, we see many different sides of each character. Whether it’s them sharing a personal secret or turning into a new person, everyone is complex. A common theme in this novel is that there is more than what meets the eye. Everyone has something to uncover. Whether we directly notice it, or it gradually comes out throughout the novel, every character contains a thrilling secret or personal experience that changed them as a character in the novel, or in the past. One of the characters that we watch unfold is T. Ray. His journey is a very surprising one.
We first meet him as an abusive father. He is cold towards his daughter and seems mad at the world. Even, though he stays like this throughout the novel, we learn many things about T. Ray that might have caused this behavior. At first, T. Ray would scream things like, “‘Get in your goddamned room!’” (Kidd 7). We also see this when he makes Lily kneel on grits. Lily describes her knees after kneeling on the grits as “swollen with hundreds of red welts, pinprick bruises that would grow into a blue stubble” (Kidd 25). Later on in the novel, we learn that T. Ray had his heart broken, by the only person he loved. On top of that, that one person he has loved, died when trying to leave him. This would break anyone. T. Ray is constantly reminded of his wife when he looks at Lily, and that must be painful. T. Ray tried to take Lily home and accidentally called her “Deborah”. T. Ray is lonely and broken. Another big character that has more than one side to them is May. May seems so joyful and full of life when she welcomes Lily and Rosaleen into her house. She was always cooking for everyone, and just in general, May had a good heart. Everyone loved May. She always tried her best to please everyone. Every now and then, May had her moments. Don’t we all? We never knew how these episodes actually affected her. She always kept a bright smile. Deep down, May was not happy. Everything we had perceived from her, was all just a mask. May was hurting. Towards the end of the novel, May committed suicide. This was a huge surprise to all of us because we never thought all this happiness was just truly hiding her sorrow. When August finds her suicide note is says, “I’m tired of carrying the weight of the world. I’m just going to lay it down now” (Kidd 210). May did not think she was just carrying her sorrow, but everyone’s else too. No one ever knew. The last character that unveils a truth that we did not see coming was June. June seemed like a strict parent at first. We thought that there was no reason for her to act like this.
Lily thought that June wanted nothing to do with her. Though June may have been a little on edge about strangers sleeping in her house, we learn that June has also had her heart broken. June does not want to marry Neil, not because she is trying to be rude, but she is afraid to love. June’s situation is similar to T. Ray’s. June was left at the altar. She refuses to get married. We know this has been holding June back from Neil, but it might also be causing her bad attitude. Once June says yes to Neil, everything about her changes. Lily describes this as she says, “The only time I saw June was when Neil came over, which was every single day. She would come out wearing hoop earrings, and they’d go off, taking long car rides in his car, which, she said, did her a world of good” (Kidd 215). This is not the June we had experienced before. June seems so light and happy. Now that her secret had been unleashed, she had changed. In conclusion, there are many more characters that portray change, complexity, and truth. Each character in The Secret Life of Bees has gone through something that shaped who they are. I think we can all relate to this as individuals. We all keep things away from the world, but when we open up, everything feels much better. I think we can look in the mirror and confirm that there is really more to us than what meets the eye.
The Secret Life of Bees
Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, The Secret Life of Bees, is greatly influenced by her own personal childhood growing up in a small town known as Sylvester, Georgia. Her environment of life growing up carried much impact on the contents and controversies played throughout her novel. As Sue Monk claims, “My job is to imagine deeply, not recount my history.” She powerfully reveals inspiring divine female power in her famous novel The Secret Life of Bees.
Sue Monk Kidd grew up in Sylvester, Georgia-a small rural town that was a site of intense racial injustices.
Growing up with continuous racial controversies occurring, Sue clearly injects the intensity of racial segregations in the South into her novel. Growing up, Kidd lived in a a plot a land that was isolated from much of the city, such as Lily Owens.
Throughout living in her childhood home, Kidd listened to the honeybees in the wall of her room. She includes this intriguing detail in her novel as well.
Sue was an intelligent young girl also reflecting back to her character, Lily. Sue was encouraged to pursue life as a writer, but the “cultural climate of the South in 1966” prompted her to achieve a degree in nursing instead.
This background is also displayed in the details of Lily Owens’ life. In The Secret Life of Bees, Miss Owens was given a journal that she often uses to write stories based upon real events she surpasses. This is inspired by the reality that Kidd also lives. As a kid, Sue Monk was influenced by writings of famous authors such as; Henry David Thoreau’s Walden and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. These authors caused Kidd to also write spiritual memoirs and novels.
While writing The Secret Life of Bees, Sue intertwines many stories that have actually taken place in her life. For example, Kidd continuously recalled an elderly negro woman in a shoe store, then later writes about Rosaleen’s spitting encounter with the three racists. She also grew up with the pleasure and luxury of having a black nanny herself, then giving Lily Owens a nanny named Rosaleen. Sue Monk Kidd experienced an intimacy with Mary and the empowering bonds between women, which is also expressed throughout her novel. These are just a few of the many factors of relation from Sue Monk Kidd’s childhood to her famous novel, The Secret Life of Bees.
In The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd includes many inspirations and influences from her childhood life. Her novel displays numerous events that stood still in Kidd’s heart, compelling her to intertwine her reality into the moving story of Lily Melissa Owens’ life. Author, Sue Monk Kidd’s biography dramatically impacted the layout of The Secret Life of Bees.
The Role of Feminism in the Secret Life of Bees
In Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees, the theme of feminism often reoccurs. Throughout the novel, Kidd reveals the aspects and importance of feminine power and matriarchy versus the typical role of masculine leadership and authority. The teachings of Carl Jung, a philosopher who believes that society would be better by emphasizing the importance of feminine values versus the masculine, deeply influences Kidd’s writings. These principles are greatly displayed in the plot and theme of The Secret Life of Bees.
Lily’s desire for a mother, and the importance of having a mother, as well as Kidd’s portrayal of strong female characters show feminism as a key part of the plot of the novel. The main plot of the novel centers around Lily’s overwhelming longing for her mother and her search for a woman’s guidance in her life. Throughout the book, Lily speaks of her desire for her mother’s presence. “That night I lay in bed and thought about dying and going to be with my mother in paradise” (Kidd 3).
Lily emphasizes her belief that her mother would have been the best thing for her life at many points, including from the very beginning of the novel, with statements such as this: “This is what I know about myself. [My mother] was all I ever wanted. And I took her away” (8). When Lily stumbles across the Boatwright sisters, she finds a source of motherly wisdom and feminine guidance in August. August acts almost as a substitute for the motherly experience Lily has missed out on, giving Lily instruction and knowledge, such as “You know, some things don’t matter that much, like the color of a house.
But lifting a person’s heart –now that matters” (147). August also teaches Lily the importance of nature and love, and how they relate to society. For example, referring to the bees, August tells Lily “Every little thing wants to be loved” (92). Lily finally receives the maternal guidance and strong female role model she has been searching for, and finds joy in her experience of feminine ideals. The importance of female divinity within the plot also characterizes the novel’s bent toward feminine power.
Lily’s interest in Catholicism, which places importance on Mary, the mother of Jesus, is a point often brought up in the novel. “All I could really figure out was my mother had been mixed up with the Catholics somehow, and–I have to say–this secretly thrilled me” (58). Throughout the storyline, her fascination with Mary and the feminine divine grow as she spends time with the Boatwright sisters, who worship Mary. Mary quickly becomes a crucial ingredient in Lily’s character, serving as a source of guidance and inspiration for her.
I started thinking about the world loaded with disguised Marys sitting around all over the place and hidden red hearts tucked about that people could rub and touch, only we didn’t recognize them” (142). Most importantly The Secret Life of Bees is loaded with colorful and strong female characters. For example, Rosaleen’s stubborn attitude and refusal to back down to anyone contradicts typical expectancy for women to sit back and take the treatment men give them, especially for colored women in the sixties.
When a group of white males attempt to stir up trouble with Rosaleen, she responds with this: “Rosaleen lifted her snuff jug, which was filled with black spit, and calmly poured it across the tops of the men’s shoes” (32). And despite physically beating her after the incident, Rosaleen refuses to succumb to their demands of an apology. “Two of them held me by the arms while the other one hit me – the one with the flashlight. He said, ‘Nigger, you say you’re sorry. ’ When I didn’t, he came at me. He hit me till the policeman said that was enough. They didn’t get no apology, though” (46).
June Boatwright displays strong femininity with her refusal to marry Neil due to the sake of having to give up her life to a man. June’s sister, August shows off yet another example of Kidd’s rich female characters, distinguishing herself with her wise, cultured, and interesting personality. “On [August’s] dressing table, where less interesting people would’ve put a jewelry box or a picture frame, August had a fish aquarium turned upside down with a giant piece of honeycomb inside it” (233). August shows herself to be extremely intelligent and clever, which challenges the typical opinion of black women.
June always said that most people bit off more than they could chew, but August chewed more than she bit off” (244). These rich female characters help shape the plot and quality of Kidd’s novel. Instead of centering a plotline around male characters with masculine strongpoints, The Secret Life of Bees takes a less opted for route. Due to Kidd’s encouragement of female guidance through mothers and female divinity, and a variety of wonderful female characters, a fantastic novel with a marvelous plotline which emphasizes the importance of the feminine is brought to life.
Maturity in the Secret Life of Bees
“One is not born but rather becomes a woman”- Simone De Beauvoir. In Sue Monk Kidd’s, The Secret Life of Bees, Lily Owens engages on a life changing expedition to make sense of her difficult predicament. Lily shows that she is a dynamic character as she matures in this coming of age novel. Lily portrays growth throughout the novel with her behavior with T. Ray, her prejudice view on the people who surround her, and her poor judgement about her mother.
Lily, the protagonist in The Secret Life of Bees, drastically changes her behavior with T. Ray throughout the course of the novel. Although at first screams and argues with him, Lily soon transforms and has a talk with T. Ray in a polite manner. In the beginning, while speaking with T. ray about Rosaleen being in jail, an argument breaks out about her mother when T. Ray tries to hit her.
Lily then shouts at him stating, “‘my mother will never let you touch me again! [ …] I hate you!’” T.
Ray then gets angry and replies saying, “’you think that goddamn woman gave a shit about you? […] The truth is, your sorry mother ran off and left you. The day she died, she’d come back and get her things, that’s all. You can hate me all you want, but she’s the one who left you” (38-39). As soon the fight is over, the words sink in and settle in Lily’s mind which she is now concerned and questioning her mother leaving her as a child which causes her to pack her things, rescue Rosaleen and runs away to Tiburon. Over a period of time that Lily spends there with the Boatwright sisters and Zach she matures.
Although the scenario still lingers in her mind Lily continues to live her life. When T. Ray finally finds Lily, Lily invites him into the house and talks to him in a respectful way. T. Ray starts by saying, “’Well, well, well. Look who’s here.’” Lily then responds saying, “’won’t you come in? […] have a seat if you want to’” (290). Lily’s demeanor towards her father is surely apparent than her past conversations with him. Even though it is evident that she would never go back home with him, she still shows him respect. Lily’s growth is proven through her modification in behavior towards her father.
Throughout the novel, Lily experiences some hurtful thoughts about the people who take her in. Even though she has nothing against colored people, Lily thinks some prejudice thoughts about the Boatwright’s and Zach. After August shows Rosaleen and Lily where they are going to sleep, she starts to remember what T. Ray said about colored women and reveals her own thoughts: “T. Ray did not think colored women were smart. Since I wanted to tell the whole truth, which means the worst parts, I thought they could be smart, but not as smart as me, me being white.
Lying on the cot in the honey house, though, 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 is very shocked that she thinks this way about colored people and soon acknowledges her bias thoughts. Despite the fact that Lily may have noticed her prejudice act, she still continues down the same path without noticing. While hanging out with Zach on the grass, Zach tells Lily that he doesn’t have much of a future since he is a Negro and she tells him how doing sports is the only way he can be successful.
She goes and says, “’well, you could play football for a college team and then be a professional player. ’” Zach then retorts and says, “’why is it sports is the only thing white people see us being successful at? I don’t want to play football, I wanna be a lawyer. ’” Lily then comes back again annoyed commenting, “’that’s fine with me, I’ve just never heard of a Negro lawyer, that’s all. You’ve got to hear of these things before you can imagine them’” (120-121). Lily’s prejudice ways are evident in her harsh comments towards Zach.
Even though she says all those rude things, she accepts Zach’s choices and supports it. Lily’s maturity is portrayed through her acceptance of Zach’s choices and wish. While staying at the Boatwright’s, Lily continues to think about what T. Ray told her about her mother leaving her as a child. Lily makes some atrocious comments about her mother in spite of her leaving. While speaking with August after telling her that she’s Deborah’s daughter, she reveals to August how she hates her mother and how her mother never wanted her which August then tells her how T.
Ray wanted to put her in Bull Street the mental institution. “’It was easy for her to leave me; because she never wanted me in the first place… you should’ve let him put her in there. I wish she’d rotted in there’” (252) Obviously, Lily’s negative words and thought have clouded her true feelings about her mother. August soon convinces Lily about her mother leaving.
Further into the conversation, August tells Lily that even though her mother left her, she came back for her the day she died which makes think: “T. Ray had told me that 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. If only we’d made it. I remember the sound of T. Ray’s boots on the stairs. I wanted to pound my fists against something, to scream at my mother for getting caught, for not packing faster, for not coming sooner. ” (254) Lily soon realizes that her mother did love her and wanted to be with her even though she still blames her for not packing faster.
Despite the fact that her mother did leave her in the beginning, she still loves her mother, even more now that she knows that she was coming back just for her. Lily’s growth is surely evident due to the fact that Lily had a deeper understanding of what happened the day her mother died and she changed her perspectives on her. The Boatwright sisters, Zach and Lily herself are ultimately the ones to acknowledge for her astonishing change in behavior, her conversion of perspective on the people who take her in, and her modification to her dreadful comments made about her mother which help her grow in many ways.
The decisions she makes and paths she takes are influenced with the help from people who love her. In order to mature and gain an understanding, Lily goes Tiburon to seek her and her mother’s past, get a deeper understanding of why her mother left in the first place and change her view on things. It is apparent that people will do anything to get answers to complex questions that may be lingering in the minds, and on the way to getting their answers they experience growth, love and compassion and leave with a deep understanding.
Characters in Relation to a Bee Hive
In Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees, the female community and the roles in a colony of honeybees go hand in hand in completing the underlying theme that assists the plot’s development. The characters throughout the novel present many parallels to the novel’s main symbol: bees. The aspects of a colony and how every bee, each with a different job works together for a common goal or purpose, reflects significantly on the plot and on the main characters.
The symbol of bees is related to many extremely significant themes in the novel such as the power of the female community, and the need for a mother.
The jobs of bees in a colony directly relate to and draw parallels to the main characters in the story and the strength of the female community. The brood or baby bee, the worker bees, and the Queen bee are all important roles within a hive of bees just as each different role is important within a household or community.
Coming of age in an imperative theme within the plot. A brood or a baby bee characterizes initial innocence and growing up. Lily Owens, the antagonist of the novel, is on a journey of self-discovery, which is comparable to a baby bee in a colony learning its place in the hive.
In her growing up, Lily learns important lessons, which help her in the coming-of-age process. Not only is Lily on a journey mentally but she is also on a voyage to find out if her mother truly left her when she was young. Finding out the truth was quite possibly the hardest part of Lily’s journey: “Knowing can be a curse on a person’s life. I’d traded in a pack of lie for a pack of truth, and I didn’t know which one was heavier. Which one took the most strength to carry around? It was a ridiculous question, though, because once you know the truth, you can’t ever go back and pick up your suitcase of lies.
Heavier or not, the truth is yours now” (Monk Kidd 256). When she finds out the truth, although the insightfulness exemplified demonstrates her increasing maturity, the anguish in her tone characterizes that she is still a young person with extreme emotions. Lily learns that in fact, refusing to know something is bliss but bliss is not necessarily happiness. Lily, although would feel more comfortable not knowing the actuality of the issue, understands that now that she knows the truth, there is no “un-knowing”.
She realizes that she can either dwell over fact or learn from it. The astute that Lily illustrates, demonstrates that she is in fact maturing, and becoming a large part of the community. When Lily’s extremely obnoxious father, who abused her both mentally and physically, intruded into the house where Lily was staying, storming in and demanding her to come home with him, Lily’s increasing maturity, once again overpowered her once young voice and eventually persuaded him to leave: “He drove slowly, not tearing down the road like I expected.
I watched till he was gone from sight then turned and looked at August and Rosaleen and the Daughters on the porch. This is the moment I remember clearest of all-how I stood in the driveway looking back at them. I remember the sight of them standing there waiting. All these women, all this love, waiting” (299). Lily now understands that her biological mother, the one she has been yearning for her entirety, was in fact never going to be with her. Lily finally accepted this and saw that a mother does not need to be biological, nor does it need to be just one.
A female role model, someone strong, courageous, and loving can be found in any women. The racist community Lily grew up in during the 50’s, where black women were looked down upon, was absolutely defied. Lily accepted that her biggest role models, her mothers, were a group of black women. The maturity required while overcoming a deep, racist thought surrounding one’s mind from the most thought-influencing time of development, is extensive and far-reaching. The power of love is finally understood by Lily and therefore embodying her hunger for knowledge of adult knowledge.
Lily’s love interest, Zachary Taylor, a black boy is a seemingly outrageous thought for anyone who looked in on the tight night community of the Daughter of Mary. Zach and Lily shared a distant but true and pure love for one another: The silver rectangle dropped down under my shirt, where it dangled cold and certain between my breasts. Zachary Lincoln Taylor rested there, along my heart” (231). This type of love is a first for Lily. The perplexing, untouched and weakening bound of love between two individuals who are in love was something Lily had never previously sensed.
The Secret Life of Bees Personal Review
Full of twists and turns, the book The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, tells the tale of a teenage girl name Lily and her journey of discovering her mother’s past before she died. Lily Owens grew up with an abusive dad and a housekeeper who has taken the role of Lily’s mom. As the story develops, so does Lily.
She becomes a lovely young women who can see beyond others people’s race. When Lily goes to Tiburon in hopes of finding out more about her mom, she meets August, May, and June, the three beekeeper sisters. Lily stays with them and learns about their traditions. While she learns about her mother, she also falls in love with Zach. However when all seems well, T.Ray, the abusive father, shows up. He tells Lily the harsh truth. When she finally finds her mother’s darkest secret, she is in shock for many days. Despite this, she soons learns to embrace it and move on. The New York Times Best Selling author creates an original novel by drawing the reader in and keeping them on their toes. The book uses different types of figurative language, a creative plot, and sympathetic characters that ultimately allows the reader to clearly imagine the book and develop true emotions.
To start, figurative language keeps the reader engaged. Using different types of figurative language makes the story interesting. For example Sue Monk Kidd uses bees to represent Lily’s mom. In the beginning of the the book, Lily feels her mom’s presence when the bee’s swarm her room. The book starts off by saying, At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin. (Kidd 1) Doing this makes the reader curious why there are bees in her room. These bee’s show Lily that they need a queen in order to function which relates to lily because she is lost without a female figure that she can look up to. She starts by using her memory of her mother to fulfil this role but soon moves onto rosaleen and finally August. She finally knows the feeling of being loved by a mother after years without her real mom. They also use other types of figurative language other than symbolism, metaphors are also used effectively. In chapter one, we see Lily describe her relationship with Rosaleen as she is Rosaleen’s pet guinea pig. (Kidd 2) Since Rosaleen has no experience with raising kids, she experiments on Lily. Effective use of figurative language proves to work as it makes the book extremely good.
Throughout the book, interesting things are constantly happening which shows a creative plot. It starts with Lily and Rosaline escaping from the hospital after they had an incident with the racist white folks. Since this was extremely dangerous and risky, it draws the reader in. Lily and Rosaleen go outside of the hospital and she took Rosaline’s hand and tugged her down the sidewalk. (Kidd 49) Using suspense makes a scary mood in the book as the readers hope that they will escape which makes them wonder what will happen next. Using different moods, she allows the reader to visualize what is happening. Further in the book, Lily finds Zach, a young african guy, who she falls in love with. Because they are different race and have to face racial discrimination from others, they have to keep their relationship secretive. Readers want to find out if they can overcome this challenge so the interesting plot keeps readers engaged and proves to be efficient. Overall, the creative plot deems efficient as readers find new challenges and solutions in every chapter.
Characters that have experience pain and suffering makes the reader sympathize with them. The Secret Life of Bees have multiple characters that have experienced many misfortunes. Sympathetic characters let the reader to truly care for them which is one of the many reason this novel is truly wonderful. Throughout the book, readers can sympathize with Lily and how she has an abusive father. When Lily argues with her father, hebrought his hand against [Lily’s] face. (Kidd 294) We can see the pain that Lily goes through and what she had to grow up with. Violence often happens in families and many experience the pain so many people can relate to Lily’s case. Although T. Ray is abusive, many readers can also relate to his pain. He lost his wife twice as she left him the first time and to death the second. As a result, he takes his anger out on Lily who was the one who accidentally killed her. However, at the end of the book T. Ray realizes that he has lost his daughter and decides that in order to give her the life she deserves, he needs to leave. When T. Ray is leaving, Lily demands him to answer her life-long question, if she was the one who killed her mother. T. Ray speaking the truth tries to comfort her daughter when he says, I could tell you I did it. That’s what you wanna hear. I could tell you she did it to herself, but both ways I’d be lying. It was you who did it, Lily. You didn’t mean it, but it was you. (Kidd 299) Lily’s father then proceeds to leave leaving Lily deep in thought. Almost every character in the book can be sympathized with and as a result, it creates a masterpiece. Clearly, important characters that readers can relate to improves the book drastically.
The Secret Life of Bees is an amazing book that clearly deserves a lot of attention. Sue Monk Kidd captures the story of Lily and how she finds out the secret of her mother when she was alive. This book was definitely one of the best book that I have ever read. Because I could sympathize with the characters, I truly enjoyed the relationships that took place and how they turned out. The way the problem was established early on in the book and how it was solved at the end was brilliant. This book was meant for anyone that enjoys reading about love and the journey to find friendships. Anyone that enjoys reading about overcoming racial discrimination and prejudice. All in all, The Secret Life of Bees, written by Sue Monk Kidd is truly an amazing piece of art as it includes multiple figurative language use, creative plot, and real authentic characters which readers can relate to.
The Secret Life of Bees Summary
In 1964, Lily Owens Is a fourteen year old girl living with her abusive father,T. Ray and haunting memories of her mother’s death. The fourteen year old lives on a peach farm with her father and her caregiver Rosaleen Daise, a black woman who has been working for the Owens for ten years.
Rosaleen is a mother figure to lily and helps her through life. Lily has a vague memory of her mother’s death where her father and mother were fighting and a gun was dropped on the floor and she was the one who accidentally shot and killed her mother. Even with this haunting memory, Lily still wants to learn more about her mother even though her father hasn’t revealed much about the woman he once loved.
One day Rosaleen saw President Johnson sign the civil rights act and decides to register to vote no matter how risky that is down south. One day Lily and Rosaleen walk into town and a group of white men harass Rosaleen. Rosaleen is not having any of this harassment and gets angry at them, then the men beat her up and the cops come and arrest Rosaleen and bring Lily with her. Lily is brought back home by T.Ray and they begin to get into an argument where Lily decides to stand up to T.Ray, but because of his need to hurt Lily, T.Ray claims that the night her mother was killed, she was trying to leave Lily. Lily refuses to believe this to be true and decides to leave her father and free Rosaleen. When Lily goes to free Rosaleen, she sees that Rosaleen has been beaten by the men who had harassed her earlier while in the jail cell. After she frees her, Lily decides to go to Tiburon, South Carolina. Lily chose this place as a while back she had found a bag of her mother’s old things and in that bag was a photo of what looked like a black virgin mary and on the back was written Tiburon, South Carolina. Lily hopes to go here and learn more about her mother. When she gets there, she goes into a grocery store where she sees the photo of the black virgin mary on jars of honey. Lily then asks the store clerk about who sells the honey, it’s the Boatrights, a local family with three sisters who are beekeepers.
Lily finds their house right outside of town and is invited to stay. Lily gives a fake story about her past life in hopes of figuring out more about her mother. The three boatright sisters, May, June, August own an impressive 28-acre lot full of bee hives for them to keep. August is the most welcoming of the sisters, even though she does not believe Lily’s story of her past life. June is suspicious and distant towards Lily and May is very emotional and often times has trouble with pain. This correlates with May’s twin sister committing suicide. As time goes on, Lily helps August with the beekeeping, along with a black teenager named Zach, who Lily develops a crush on. Rosaleen helps inside with May and does some house work.
One day a group call the Daughters of Mary come into the house to meet with the sisters. In the living room of the Boatright house, there is a statue of the Black Virgin Mary which the Daughters sit by as they worship her. Lily wants to join in with the Daughters, but quickly realize that they only see her as white and not one of them. August continually tries to get Lily to tell her the truth about her past life, but Lily is afraid that if she does they will throw her out and won’t let her return.
As Zach and Lily become closer, they talk about what they want to do in the future. Lily wants to be a writer and Zach wants to become a lawyer. They both walk into town together one day and go to the lawyer’s office who has been mentoring Zach. When Lily is left alone, she impulsively calls her father and tries to tell him off, but he threatens to find her and beat her.
Later, Lily notices May doing something that her mother used to do when she was young and then realizes that May knew her mother. Before Lily could confront August about this, Zach wants to take her into town to get new car parts when some black teenagers throw a bottle at a white man. Zach is arrested with them and Lily heads back to the Boatrights for help. They decide to keep this from May as they don’t believe she could handle it. However, with Zach’s one phone call, he calls the Boatrights and May answers and is told the horrible news. May is unable to handle everything that has happened and drowns herself in the river.
Zach is released from jail and the whole house mourns the loss of May. After they all mourning, Lily finally talks to August about her mother and surprisingly finds out that August knew who Lily was. August explained the relationship between her mother and father an that her mother planned to divorce T.Ray and left without Lily, but then went back to get her so she could live with her and the sisters T.Ray is able to track down Lily from the phone call from the lawyer’s office. They have a big argument and Lily is abused verbally and physically. Lily was able to make him stop and realize that she is not her mother. T.Ray has consistently taken his anger out on Lily for what her mother did. August and Lily are able to convince T.Ray to let Lily live there permanently. At the end of the novel, Lily is now going to highschool and living a much healthier life.
The Drawing: The drawing is of the Black Virgin Mary, a symbol that come up often in the novel. The Black Virgin Mary is very important to August and her sisters. Aust explains to Lily that it is important to fit religious figures into the intended audience, in this case a black virgin Mary for a black community. It is a symbol of power for the sisters and it is what lead Lily to this house where she now will live out the rest of her life.
Do you think that bees are important?
Do you think if all bees, whether it’s bumble or honey, were to die, that we as humans could live on without them? If so, I am going to tell you why you’re wrong. Ofter I hear people talking about “save the bees”, “we need the bees” but not many people actually take that into consideration. As you know, bees feed on pollen and nectar produced by plants.
Female bees collect pollen to feed their larvae, storing it in pollen baskets in their legs or on branched hairs on their body. As they go from flower to flower they inevitably lose some of the pollen they have collected. Studies show that common pesticides could be wiping out bee colonies by causing pollen-gathering insects to lose their way home, research suggests.
Two studies provide strong evidence that pesticides sprayed on farmers’ fields, and used on private gardening threaten bumblebees and honeybees. A group of French researchers say that pesticides tripled their chances of dying away from the hive. The chemical was thought to disrupt the bees’ homing systems. Insecticides called neonicotinoids may fuel Colony Collapse Disorder. Just as much as bees have a role in ensuring the survival of humanity, we also have roles in ensuring their survival. This way, we can ensure that the symbiotic relationship we have with bees will endure for many more generations. The honey bee is a major pollinator of many of our food crops, almonds, apples, avocados, blueberries, cantaloupe, cherries, cranberries, cucumbers, sunflowers, watermelon, and many other crops all rely on honey bees for pollination. So if honey bees disappear and we do not find replacements that can do the work they do; then foods that we take for granted will decrease in supply and increase in price. The main reason that the honeybees are important for our world is a simple as this; if the honey bee does not pollinate the crops, the crops do not grow and produce the food that gets harvested and brought to the store where we buy it and bring it home to feed ourselves and our families. So the question is, are bees important? The authors of the FAO analysis concluded that the proportion of global food production attributable to animal pollination ranges from 5% in industrialized nations to 8% in the developing world. About 75% of the world’s crops benefit to some degree from animal pollination; only 10% of that 75% depend fully on animal pollination.
A second explanation is that pollinator-dependent crops tend to have lower average production levels that non-pollinated crops. But there is another mega-trend at work, and that is that global demand for animal pollinated crops is increasing faster than the demand for non-pollinated staples. The fraction of total production made up of animal-pollinated crops grew from 3.6% in 1961 to 6.!% in 2006, and these statistics mask a huge jump in the years since 1990. In other words, more people around Planet Earth want ice cream, blueberry tarts, watermelon, almond chocolate bars, coffee, and yes McDonald’s hamburgers – and the trend shows no sign of slowing. So, to what extent does the quality of human life depend on bee pollination? I would say a lot. We are losing the bees that live naturally in the wild. We depend on these insects for our food, but in an ecosystem where pollution and urbanization are altering nature dramatically, bees are in major trouble, bees are losing their food sources. Rural and forested land is consistently being developed for housing and shopping malls, reducing the flower sources bees feed on. In addition, bees can’t find nectar and pollen as easily as they used to because of weed sprays and “better” pasture care. The weeds, from which they gather much wildflower honey, simply aren’t there. Bees are adversely affected by conventional agriculture practices.
This kind of farming utilizes pesticides, which kill harmful pests, but also beneficial insects like bees. Now we know that Bees are essential to the production of “one third of human food” directly through their role in fertilizing crops. They are also essential to the feed production of “animals that make up another on their of our diet”. This most vital process to human survival is threatened by the careless modification of foods carried out by scientists thinking in only one box at a time. The genetically modified plants clearly are highly toxic to bees and moths as well as caterpillars. Something needs to be done urgently, if bees are to survive this toxic intervention in nature. All in all we need bees more than we we may know, think cautiously about what you’re putting in your garden/crops and about the other lives around you that aren’t just human life. We have food chain and if one species goes then the more another dies off.