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"The Secret Life of Bees"
Transcript of "The Secret Life of Bees"
The Boatwright Sisters
The Boatwright Sisters, three African American women who live together in Tiburon, South Carolina, inhabit a bright pink house, keep bees, and make honey.
August Boatwright, the oldest of the three sisters, is also the most wise of the trio. Years ago, she was the housekeeper of Lily's mom in Virginia. August's favorite color is blue. In fact, her entire bedroom is blue. August Boatwright is middle-aged with a slim build, rimless glasses, and graying hair.
June Boatwright seems to be the most stern of the sisters. She often volunteers to play cello for the dying at the local hospital and teaches at a school for colored children. June is stubborn and refuses to marry Neil, whom she seems to have a relationship with.
May Boatwright, the youngest of the three sisters, was the twin of their late sibling and her twin, April Boatwright. After April committed suicide at the age of fifteen, May began to fall into a hole which she unable to escape. As time passed, May soon felt the pain of the entire world as if it were hers; she later committed suicide. May Boatwright has a muscly physique from constructing the Wailing Wall which is her own way of coping with pain.
The Daughters of Mary
(Our Lady in Chains)
T. Ray Owens
Deborah Fontanel Owens
People of Tiburon
People of Sylvan
Queenie and Violet
Sugar-Girl and Otis Hill
Consisting of a group of African American women, The Daughters of Mary attend religous events at the Boatwright house, and later become maternal figures in Lily's life.
With only two members in the family, one being a cruel father, the Owens are quite dysfunctional. One may not even call them a family.
Near the beginning of the novel, Lily feels insecure and isolated on the farm with her father. She soon however, finds courage within herself to stick up to T. Ray and run away with Rosaleen. Lily has stubborn, dark hair, a lack of chin, and a petite figure.
Not entirely part of the family, Rosaleen was an African American housekeeper and caretaker for the Owens back in the town of Sylvan. She was the closest thing Lily had to a mother. Despite her stony exterior, Rosaleen is a truly affectionate woman. She can be quite stubborn and refuses to bow down to white men.
At one time loving and affectionate, Terrence Ray Owens is now a harsh, angry man who takes his aggression out on his daughter, Lily. What caused this? Witnessing the abandonment and death of Deborah, his wife.
The late wife of T. Ray Owens and mother of Lily Owens, Deborah grew up in Virginia with August Boatwright as her housekeeper and friend. Like Lily, she has untidy, black hair and lacks a prominent chin. Despite what Lily thought, Deborah loved her daughter and has never really abandoned her.
Mother and daughter, both Queenie and Violet are a part of the Daughters of Mary. The two women wear similar clothing, with bright colors and flashy hats.
Married, both Sugar-Girl and her husband, Otis Hill, attend the Daughters of Mary affairs. Otis is known to be kind and is one of the few men to attend to the events.
Lunelle, one of the followers of Our Lady in Chains, is a hat maker, and an extravagant one at that. Not only does she fabricate hats, she wears them too. Near the end of the book, Lunelle makes a hat for Lily. It slightly resembles a beehive.
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Mrs. Henry, Lily's teacher, is the person who tells her that she's too smart to be joining beauty school. She is also the first person to encourage her to start writing more, telling Lily that she has the potential to become more than a simple beauty school student.
Many of the characters from the town of Sylvan, South Carolina are unimportant to most of the storyline. Each character, rather racist, Lily and Rosaleen meet men such as Avery Gaston, a police officer, Brother Gerald, the priest, and Franklin Posey, the man who harms Rosaleen after she defends herself.
Neil, a tall, African American man who is kind and honest, is in love with June, and she knows it. After proposing a number of times, she finally gives in after May's death. Despite living somewhere else, and working as a principal at the same school as June teaches, he still helps around the farm.
Mr. Forrest, a white man who lives in Tiburon, works as the principal lawyer of the town. He is kind and curious towards Lily at first, however, she soon begins to feel threatened. He is Zach's mentor, and helps him by showing past cases.
Though there are more minor characters who live in Tiburon, almost every one of them serves a purpose. For instance, when Lily first arrives in Tiburon, a small man who wears a bow tie and works at the general store, Mr. Grady, points her in the right direction to go. Miss Lacy, another example, may seem meaningless, however she was the one who informed T. Ray the whereabouts of Lily.
Zach Taylor, an African American boy who helps August on the farm, is handsome, athletic and intelligent. He is interested in becoming a lawyer and therefore turns to Clayton Forrest for help. After wrongfully getting arrested, Zach becomes angry at the world, and becomes determined to change it.
Cressie, yet another member of the Daughters of Mary, crochets several octopi for Lily's room after she officially moves in with the Boatwright sisters.
A minor character in the novel, Mabelee is not mentioned or described much throughout the story. Despite this however, she is one of the women who stand with Lily in her time of need.