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.
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