The Secret Life of Bees
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.
About The Secret Life of Bees
The novel The Secret Life of Bees is about a girl that is named Lily Owens and is living with her abusive father which is named T.Ray. Her housekeeper, Rosaleen, is a person who cares for Lily and is more of a craetaker to Lily. Lily plans to run away from T.Ray and get Rosaleen out of a hospital as she was hit in the head by a group of white men trying to register to vote.
As the story in the novel continues, the author shows the relationship between Lily and Rosaleen in many ways. The author shows this in many ways, for example, Rosaleen is always caring and tender towards Lily, she also stands for up for Lily and herslef and was brave enough to do so against T.Ray but, thier relationship is also complex with each other in many different ways.
Furthermore, in the novel, thier were many parts in the story that showed that Rosaleen is tender and caring towrds Lily, for instance, Lily says that I was the only one who knew that despite her sharp ways her heart was more tender then a flower’s skin and she loves me beyond reason. This quote shows that Rosaleen is caring and it is also another use of flowers as a figure or image.
Also, Rosaleen is very brave and protective when she has to. When Lily was 8, Rosaleen had given Lily a easter dyed chick, when T.Ray finds out, he had threaten to boil the chick for dinner. However, Rosaleen stands up to T.Ray and says There is worse things in the house than chicken poop. When she looked towards the chick then at him, she said You ain’t touching that chick. This goes to show that Rosaleen is capable of defending herself and other people she cares about. Another section of the novel that shows her braveness is when she meets 3 racist men when she was on her way registering to vote. In response to their comments, she scribbles her name in scuff juice on their shoes. This had caused her to land a blow coming from one of the men and be sent to the hospital but, this part of the novel showed that Rosaleen is bold and pasionate, in addition it also shows that she is not afraid to defend herslef.
Analysis Of The Secret Life of Bees
The Secret Life of Bees takes place in the 1960s and follows the incredible and emotional journey of fourteen-year old Lily Owens, a white girl living in Sylvan, South Carolina. Lily lives alone with her father, T-Ray, and her African-American housekeeper, Rosaleen. Growing up with an abusive father and a dead mother she barely knew, Lily often feels alone in this world and worthless.
The story opens up with Lily looking back on the day her mother died. Lily’s mother, Deborah, had left T-Ray when Lily was only a couple years old, but later came back to retrieve her daughter. T-Ray and Deborah started to fight, which quickly became physical. Mrs. Owens pulled out a gun and accidentally dropped it by Lily, who picked it up and attempted to shoot her father to protect her mother. The bullet missed and hit Deborah, killing her instantly. Lily mentions her constant feeling of responsibility for this horrific event, which T-Ray takes advantage of and uses against her as a way to torture her. A couple days after Lily recalls this event, her and Rosaleen were walking through town when Rosaleen was attacked by a group of racist men. Both Rosaleen and Lily were brought to jail, but T-Ray came and bailed only Lily out, leaving Rosaleen behind. Fearing the men would go back to the jail to kill the only person Lily actually cared about, she came up with a plan to break Rosaleen out. While coming up with this plan, T-Ray came into Lily’s room and started verbally abusing her. Lily tried to stand up for herself, which T-Ray laughed off and went back to using the story of her responsibility for Deborah’s death to emotionally abuse Lily.
After he went away, Lily came to the conclusion that the only way she could be happy and truly understand her mother was if she ran away with Rosaleen. After Rosaleen and Lily both successfully escaped, the two started towards Tiburon, South Carolina. Lily had found a picture of black Mary with “Tiburon, South Carolina” printed on the back in some of her mother’s belongings. Lily took this as a sign that the only way for her to truly connect with her mother was to go to this place. On the journey there, Lily and Rosaleen come across a store with jars of honey in the window with the same black Mary picture on them. When they asked the store keeper where the jars were from, the man told the women that a local beekeeper by the name of August Boatwright had made the honey. Rosaleen and Lily went to her house where they discovered August and her two sisters, who were more than willing to let the women stay with them. Lily and Rosaleen lied to the sisters about their identities out of fear of August or someone else calling Mr. Owens to tell him where they were. As time passed, Lily and Rosaleen helped August and her sisters take care of the bees in exchange for a place to live. August helped Lily realize her worth and how her father’s disparaging comments did not define who Lily was. Eventually, Lily opened up to one of the sister’s, May Boatwright, and asks if she knew anyone by the name of Deborah. May told Lily she did, confirming Lily’s suspicions of the women being connected to her mother. Lily decides she wanted to go and talk to August about all of this, so a couple weeks later she finally worked up the courage to do it. Lily explains her reasons for coming to the Bee Farm and who her family really is, while August listens quietly and nods her head. She later tells Lily she knew who she was all along but kept quiet because she wanted Lily to discover herself and experience being “normal” for awhile. Mr. Owens drives to Tiburon to get Lily, who refuses to leave, standing her ground against her furious father. T-Ray eventually leaves, allowing Lily to finally be free from his physical and emotional torture and able to move on with her new family.
Significant Characters & Setting
Lily is introduced into the book as a curious and determined teenager who grows up with an abusive father and little to no knowledge of who her mother was. The only memory she has of Deborah Owens is the painful memory of her death. Lily constantly replays the memory in her head, each time feeling less and less loveable. She poses the question of how anyone so stupid and horrible enough to kill their own mother could be loved. Lily battles this feeling of being worthless throughout her journey, with her father reminding her every second he can about how Lily caused Deborah’s death. She also feels that her mother did not truly love her because Deborah left her behind when she ran away from T-Ray. Not wanting this to be true, she pushes the thought to the back of her head only for her father to bring it back up, as he usually would, when abusing Lily. Lily finds it hard to escape and attempts to distract herself with the bees that live in her house.
Due to her mother not being around, she also longs for a maternal figure, and when Lily finds someone exhibiting this trait, she tends to cling to them. While with the Boatwright sisters, Lily quickly connects with two of them (August and May), but has a hard time relating to the third, June Boatwright. June is portrayed as standoffish and not wanting anything to do with Lily, which only fuels her feelings of being undesirable. However, as Lily gets to know June better and is forced to interact with her, June opens up to Lily and defends her as if she were her own child. From this, Lily eventually learns to love herself and stops listening to T-Ray’s voice in her head telling her that her life is meaningless. Now that she has people in her life who act as maternal figures, Lily is able to grow as a character and really see the beauty in life and her biological mother’s love for her. In the end, Lily is able to let go of all the hurt that plagued her and move on with her life with a new family she knows will not hurt her the way T-Ray did.
As the father of Lily, T-Ray is expected to be the protagonist of the story, but quickly shows he is the complete opposite. He raises Lily in a harsh way that scars her both physically and emotionally. After the freak-accident that killed his wife, who was also a victim of his abuse, T-Ray looks to blame someone other than himself for the death. He looks at Lily, as she was the one who fired the gun. Although Lily did shoot her mother, T-Ray is still responsible as he was physically abusing her when she drew a gun on him out of self-defense. T-Ray forces himself to deny the fact that if he had not been so cruel to Deborah, she would still be alive. Instead, he takes out his anger on Lily, making fun of her for little things, like claiming there were bees in the house. He forgets Lily is his own daughter at the end of the book when trying to bring her home, and refers to her as “Deborah,” truly believing in that moment it was his wife in front of him. He cries out, “You’re not leaving me again” (Kidd 294). By saying this, T-Ray shows how blinded by hurt and self-loathing he actually is and how much he really did love his wife, despite his bitter nature.
August Boatwright, a humble beekeeper, is introduced to the readers early on and is portrayed as an understanding and mother-like figure. These two qualities immediately draw Lily to her. August knew who Lily was from the beginning, despite Lily’s lies about her identity, and recognized her determined nature from Deborah Owens. August was Deborah’s nanny when she was a child and practically raised Deborah, which is why she ran to August’s farm after leaving T-Ray. August saw the emotional battles Lily was fighting and felt the need to assist her without fully disclosing her knowledge of Lily’s mother in order to help Lily discover herself independently.
August successfully helped Lily positively grow as a person and help her to finally feeling worth something in this world. She taught Lily important skills while they took care of the bees and helped Lily permanently let go of the idea that her biological mother did not love her and that she was to blame for Deborah’s death. August made Lily realize that she is human and capable of mistakes, something she should not beat herself up for every day. August Boatwright was the glue to her family. Without her, June would never have connected to Lily nor would Lily have ever gone through such a positive and remarkable change. She used her compassion and faith that everything would be alright to guide Lily down the right path and to teach Lily to pick herself up after she falls.
Tiburon, South Carolina
Tiburon, South Carolina holds a special meaning to Lily because of it being written on the back of one of her mother’s belongings. She did not originally know why this place was significant, but believed that she could find answers to her questions about Deborah if she went there. When Lily and Rosaleen arrive in Tiburon, they encounter the Boatwright sisters who they later find out knew her mother. Lily learns a lot while in Tiburon and is able to move on in life with the help of the Boatwright sisters, something she would not have been able to do back in Sylvan, South Carolina. Tiburon is Lily’s safe space, a place where she can connect with her mother and come to terms with Deborah’s death and her guilt from it.
Opening & Closing Statement
In the beginning of the book, Lily gets into an argument with T-Ray in which she yells, “You don’t scare me!” (Kidd 38). Lily actually meant this and was willing to stand up against her father because of how much she hated him. She did not care about the possible abuse to follow her defiant statement.
At the end of the book when T-Ray come to Tiburon and confronts Lily, she is terrified. By living with the Boatwrights and learning more about her mother, Lily was able to understand her father’s sadness and truly feel for him. She admitted to being scared of him and was actually concerned for her safety. Lily realized that T-Ray was so blinded with rage and hurt that he did not even notice he was abusing his own daughter, but believed she was Deborah.
The most prominent theme in this novel is the sense of community. By helping each other get through hard times and recover from past experiences, the female characters of this book were all able to become better versions of themselves. The Boatwright sisters welcomed Lily into their house, sensing her desire for any sort of maternal connection, and helped Lily find her home within this community built from trust and compassion. Without a trusted group of people to turn to, Lily would not have been able to grow as a person and finally achieve the happiness she craved. June Boatwright learned to open up and to love through Lily’s presence, ultimately helping her become closer to her sisters. By finally feeling a sense of belonging to a group of people who genuinely loved her, Lily was able to feel at peace with her past and ready for the future because she knew that no matter what, she would always have people supporting her.
Another important theme in this book is the theme of love. Lily’s only desire is to feel some sort of affection from anyone, as long as she feels wanted. When she arrives at the Boatwright’s, they welcome her into their home with open arms and willing to care for her. This helps Lily realise how much she had been missing in her life back in Sylvan with her father. Her father had not shown her the slightest amount of love or affection, which caused her to often feel depressed and like her life was meaningless. All of that changed when the Boatwright sisters showed Lily love despite really knowing her. This compassionate and kind emotion was something Lily had never experienced, but eventually wondered how she ever lived without.
Throughout the novel, the author starts each chapter with a quote from books about beekeeping. The quote always relates to what is happening in that chapter. An example of this is when the author uses the quote, “Let’s imagine for a moment that we are tiny enough to follow a bee into a hive. Usually the first thing we would have to get used to is the darkness…” (Exploring the World of Social Insects 82). This quote starts off chapter five, which ends up being about Lily and Rosaleen’s struggles when trying to adjust to living with the Boatwright sisters, who live in a way that is the complete opposite of what they are used to.
“You don’t scare me!” (Lily 38)
This quote is significant because it show’s how Lily is able to recognize T-Ray’s irrational thinking when he abuses her and not let it scare her. She chooses not to give into his emotional abuse and mind games, but instead challenge T-Ray to show her growing independence. T-Ray clearly was threatened by this because he immediately retaliated, proving his fear that Lily would leave him alone. All along, T-Ray thought she was dependent on him and felt that he could treat her any way he wanted and she would not run away. By Lily standing up for herself and claiming that she was not afraid, she showed that she was willing to leave T-Ray and become independent.
“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” (T-Ray 299).
This quote is significant because it shows how T-Ray was finally able to acknowledge the fact that Deborah’s death was an accident. Throughout the whole novel, T-Ray makes sure Lily never forgets that it was her fault her mother was dead, causing Lily to also believe this and consider herself a bad person. When T-Ray says this quote, he also helps Lily to get rid of the thought that she is unable to be loved by anyone because of this tragic event. Lily is finally able to be at peace with her mother’s death and her role in it because of her father acknowledging that it was an accident.
“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” (August 148).
This quote is significant because it relates to the situation Lily is in while comparing it to a hive of bees, something that interests Lily. The hive represents the community Lily has joined and how she is different compared to the Boatwright sisters, both physically and mentally. Lily withholds her identity from the sisters, also relating to the secret life bees have in their hive. No one truly knows what happens in the hive, occasionally not even its members. None of the sisters, besides August, know that Lily is hiding her identity, yet they still welcome her into their community.
“‘I’m staying here,’ I said. ‘I’m not leaving’” (Lily 296)
This quote is significant because it shows how Lily has finally found a home, a place she knows she belongs in and is loved. When T-Ray threatens to leave, she refuses, not afraid to stand up to him if it means she gets to stay in the one place she feels happy. Lily shows how much she has grown as a character in this quote. She shows her independence and confidence, two things she did not have early on in the book.
“Send them love and everything will be fine” (August 149).
This quote is significant because it highlights one of the themes of this book: the need for love. August is showing Lily the beehives and telling her about them when she says this quote. By sending the bees love, they in return will not hurt anyone, but instead will happily produce honey and be productive. This relates to August’s beliefs about how everyone deserves some sort of affection, especially those who do not normally receive any, like Lily. Lily is also impacted by this quote because it shows her the importance of love in any community and how it can make or break a person. Lily has gone so long without any love from her father and is finally receiving it from the Boatwright’s, and to Lily, everything is fine. She feels wanted and that is enough for her.
The classic, heartfelt novel The Secret Life of Bees
The classic, heartfelt novel, The Secret Life of Bees, was written by the New York Times bestselling author, Sue Monk Kidd. The novel was originally published on November 8, 2001 and has since been adapted into a film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood. Both the novel and the film are narrated by a young, determined fourteen-year-old white girl named Lily Owens. Whilst reading the novel and watching the film, there are several recognizable similarities and differences scattered throughout the two.
Between both the novel and the film there are multiple powerful similarities and differences. However, the number of differences between the novel and the film outweigh the similarities drastically. These differences are what have led to the weaknesses and flaws of the film compared to the novel. In both the novel, The Secret Life of Bees, written by Sue Monk Kidd, and the film, The Secret Life of Bees, directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood, the narrator, Lily Owens lives with both her housekeeper, Rosaleen, and abusive father, T. Ray. In both the novel and the film, Lily’s mother passed away while she was only four. The strong themes throughout the novel and the film approach the topics of racism, motherhood, and courage. The concept of bees in both the novel and the film are where the two begin to split in direction. In the novel, the use of bees is loosely ruled as a metaphor for the absence of Lily’s mother. In her bedroom, Lily feels her mother’s presence when a swarm of bees surround her, creating the connection between Lily’s mother and the bees. However, the use of bees in the film was not a metaphor, like the novel, but rather literal information on the keeping of bees, resulting in the lack of depth and message throughout the film.
There are many fatal differences between the novel and the film that take away from the storyline. For instance, in the novel, Lily has an amazing, powerful connection with August, Zack, and the other girls. Their deep connection seems much more real and strong in the novel compared to the film. Throughout reading the novel, you are given much more important, reliable information, more complex images in your head, and you are able to experience the character’s emotions and feelings more in the novel rather than the film. In the film, there seems to be a rush between the feeling of happiness to the sudden feeling of sadness rather quickly. Whereas in the novel, you are subtly transitioned between moods and emotions between the characters, which gives the novel the advantage with connecting with the audience. When reading the novel, you are able to obtain more depth in Lily’s emotions and thoughts compared to in the film where there is a lack of information of Lily’s feelings and intentions. During the creation of the film, there are several necessary scenes that are missed from the novel.
For example, when Lily and August have severe conversations with one another are essential for the development of their characters and their relationship. Their intricate conversations are used as Lily’s coping mechanism for the mental battles she fought with both herself and T. Ray throughout her life. Also in the novel, T. Ray is portrayed as much more aggressive and violent than he really is in the film where he had more emotions and feelings. Rosaleen is also depicted as much more clumsy and stubborn in the novel whereas in the film she is shown as a soft woman. The endings between the two were rather different and had much more diverse emotions. In the novel, Lily faces T. Ray with the question on whether or not she really is the one who kills her mother. Compared to in the film where she asks if her mother was intent on taking her with her when she left. In the novel, Lily was taken back at the view on the porch, seeing all of her mother’s: Rosaleen, June, and August. This developed a perfect ending for Lily’s story through the loss of one mother and the founding of so many. These mother’s protected Lily as if she were their own child and their powerful, beautify motherhood connection of the perfect story seemed to be lacking in the film.
Through all of the intricate changes between the well-written novel and the film, they took away from the stories overall potential. With the removal of many important, powerful scenes and details form the book, the film was created as if it were an incomplete puzzle, missing several pieces. The changes were most likely removed from the film to allow for a more general, broad theme, rather than complicating the story with many smaller themes, preventing the film audience from becoming too confused with the novel’s storyline.
The process of comparing and contrasting of the novel and the film has allowed for a better understanding of both pieces and their meanings. Although there were several similarities between the novel and the film, there were also many crucial differences between the two which were found throughout the process. These changes from the novel to the film is what caused for the film to lack critical details and key points which are necessary for the success of the film.