Lily Owens is just about to turn 14 when the story opens. She grapples with a lot of the stuff that most teenagers do: identity, popularity, self-consciousness regarding her appearance, and parental issues. However, history combined with a fair amount of spunk and resourcefulness on Lily's end soon force her into far more exceptional circumstances.
Mommy and Daddy Issues
Lily is a sad soul when we first meet her. She is really feeling the loss of her mother, and she feels a ton of guilt about her death. You see, when Lily was four, she accidentally fired the gun that killed her mom. To make matters worse, Lily's dad is a thoroughly unpleasant dude (in fact, Lily's mom had been in the process of leaving him when she died), and his behavior toward Lily ranges from indifference (on a good day) to contempt (on less-good ones). To say that Lily yearns for a better home life would be a massive understatement.
Smells Like Teen Angst
Then, there's the other typical teen angst stuff. Lily doesn't feel like she fits in that well at school. She says:
I worried so much about how I looked and whether I was doing things right, I felt half the time I was impersonating a girl instead of really being one. (1.56)
Because her father was more or less checked out and didn't really know/care about Lily's life or needs, Lily ended up having to fend for herself in some surprising ways:
He did not care that I wore clothes I made for myself in home economics class, cotton print shirtwaists with crooked zippers and skirts hanging below my knees, outfits only the Pentecostal girls wore. I might as well have worn a sign on my back: I AM NOT POPULAR AND NEVER WILL BE. (1.51)
Yikes, pessimistic much? Anyway, hats off to her for her Little House on the Prairie-level sewing skills, but it sounds like a little more parental involvement (or at least awareness) of Lily's feelings wouldn't have hurt.
Girls on the Run
However, everything changes when she and Rosaleen end up on the lam together. They head toward Tiburon, South Carolina, where Lily believes she can find people who knew her mother. She quickly locates August Boatwright, a local beekeeper who apparently knew her mom, and wrangles an invitation for her and Rosaleen to stay. Still, she doesn't immediately admit whose daughter she is (and she leaves out the part about Rosaleen being a fugitive, too). Lily is actually a talented fibber, we quickly learn.
Eventually, Lily comes clean with August about her true identity and intentions in coming to her, and she finally learns more about her mom. Unfortunately, the intel she gets is not all sunshine and rainbows. First of all, she learns that she was, er, a surprise, and she interprets that as having been unwanted:
Unwanted . . . I was an unwanted baby. (12.171)
Then, August confirms T. Ray's claim that Lily's mom left her, too, when she left home. This revelation is pretty devastating for Lily, since it shatters the image she had built up of her mother and her devotion to her daughter:
I'd spent my life imagining all the ways she'd loved me, what a perfect specimen of a mother she was. And all of it was lies. I had completely made her up. (12.198)
Lily had been pretty desperate to believe that her mom would have been loving in a way certain people weren't ( cough, cough: T. RAY), so the notion that she was a "surprise" gets her into a bit of a spiral.
Home at Last
Lily ultimately calms down and starts to heal from all these revelations—especially after August brings her a box of her mother's things, which contains a picture of Lily and her mother together. In the snap, Lily's mom is clearly over the moon about her baby girl.
There's a little mini-crisis when T. Ray finally figures out where she is and tries to get her to come back to Sylvan, but Lily and August (with some backup from the Daughters of Mary) convince him to let her stay there to continue high school (and her beekeeping education, too, of course). So, with the Boatwrights and Rosaleen, Lily finally gets the warm, loving home she's always wanted, with a whole team of mothers looking out for her. Not too shabby for a happy ending, if you ask us.Timeline
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd Essay
896 Words4 Pages
Racism: Then and Now. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a book discussing the internal strife of a young white girl, in a very racist 1960’s south. The main character, Lily Owens, faces many problems she must overcome, including her personal dilemma of killing her own mother in an accident. Sue Monk Kidd accurately displays the irrationality of racism in the South during mid- 1960's not only by using beautiful language, but very thoroughly developed plot and character development. Kidd shows the irrationality of racism through the characters in her book, The Secret Life of Bees and shows that even during that time period, some unique people, were able to see beyond the heavy curtain of racism that separated people from each…show more content…
Lily shows her non-racist side in the very beginning of the book, after Rosaleen has been put in jail for spitting on a very racist white man’s shoe. She willingly sneaks into jail and attempts to free Rosaleen, but gets sent home with the racist and mean father, T. Ray. She once again tries to free Rosaleen, and this time sneaks into a hospital to free her. Lily is successful this time, and runs away with Rosaleen. Many quotes from the Secret Life of Bees express the views of different characters on racism. ” She was black as could be, twisted like driftwood from being out in the weather, her face a map of all the storms and journeys she’d been through. Her right arm was raised as if she was pointing the way, except her fingers were closed in a fist. It gave her a serious look, like she could straighten you out if necessary.” In this quote, Lily describes the Black Virgin Mary, the lord of the Sisters of Mary, and later learns the significance of this statue, which is to look within yourself to find your true, hidden self. When Lily has her earlier conversations with Zach, she has a slight edge of racism in her voice. When Zach tells Lily that he want to be a lawyer, she says: “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.” However, despite this fact, she supports Zach’s