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Introduction to The Secret Life of Bees

A 2002 novel by American author Sue Monk Kidd.

Krystal VanDuysen

on 29 January 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to The Secret Life of Bees

The Secret Life of
Lily Owens
affect neurology of bees
Author: Sue Monk Kidd
“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” (Kidd 148).
Lily Owens is a 14-year-old girl and is the narrator of the novel. In order to discover who she really is, Lily must leave T. Ray and learn more about her late mother.
- She is eager to do whatever it takes to find more information about her mother's mysterious past.

- She asks a shopkeeper in Tiburon about the Black Mary photograph, which also appears on the honey jars in the shop.

- She and Rosaleen leave abusive T. Ray in Sylvan, South Carolina and are confident that they won't get caught.

- They venture to an unfamiliar town called Tiburon.
"If I managed to get Rosaleen free— an “if” so big it could have been the planet Jupiter — just where did I think we’d go? Suddenly I stood still. Tiburon, South Carolina. Of Course. The town written on the back of the black Mary picture" (Kidd 43).
“I pointed to the honey jars. “Where did you get those?” He thought the tone of shock in my was voice was really consternation. “I know what you mean. A lot of folks won’t buy it ’cause it’s got the Virgin Mary pictured as a coloured woman, but see, that’s because the woman who makes the honey is coloured herself" (Kidd 64).
- Mrs. Henry, Lily's English teacher, tells Lily she is intelligent.

- Lily manages to create a fake past, learn a new set of skills, and understands the people and events that occur around her.
"Please, Lily, you are insulting your fine intelligence. Do you have any idea how smart you are? You could be a professor or a writer with actual books to your credit" (Kidd 16).
Optimism, trust in others.
Blind to reality, Vulnerability.
T. Ray (Terrence) Owens
- T. Ray is Lily's father.
- T. Ray is a mean, bitter man who takes his rage out on Lily.
- He makes Lily feel worthless.

Rosaleen Daise
Rosaleen Daise is Lily's caregiver / housekeeper that T. Ray Owens hired. Rosaleen is a mother figure to Lily and she loves Lily like she was her own daughter. Rosaleen enjoys snuff and has a strong desire to register herself to vote.
Lily's caregiver
- Rosaleen loves Lily as if she was her own daughter.
- Rosaleen works hard for Lily.
- Rosaleen gives Lily sympathy.

"I was the only one who knew that despite her sharp ways, her heart was more tender than a flower skin and she loved me beyond reason" (Kidd 11).

- T. Ray both verbally and physically abuses Lily.

- T. Ray regularly punishes Lily (She has to kneel on grits as punishment for small issues).

"I said, do you know what my favourite colour is?"
"I know one thing, and that's
I'm gonna find you
Lily, and when I do, I'm gonna
tear your behind to pieces.

(Kidd 159-160)
- T. Ray was treated unfairly with Deborah
(Debora, his wife, abandoned him).

- With resentfulness, T. Ray takes his anger out on Lily.
"You're going back with me!"
he yelled.
"You never should have left me."
It crossed my mind that he was no longer talking to me but to Deborah. Like his mind had snapped back ten years.
"T. Ray," I said. "It's me — Lily."
He didn't hear me. He had a
fistful of my hair
and wouldn't let me go.
he said.
"Goddamn bitch,"
he said (Kidd 294-295).
- He shows no pity towards his own daughter.

- He cares about a dog more than his own daughter

"His only kindness was for Snout, his bird dog, who slept in his bed and got her stomach scratched anytime she rolled onto her wiry back. I've seen Snout pee on T. Ray's boot and it not get a rise of him" (Kidd 3).
“Where’re you going, nigger?”

I’m going to register my name so I can vote, that’s what

“Coming alongside the men, Rosaleen lifted her snuff jug, which was
filled with black spit
, and calmly
poured it
across the tops of the men's shoes
, moving her hand in little loops like she was writing her name—Rosaleen Daise
—just the way she'd practiced" (Kidd 31).

Rosaleen steals fans from a church without the slightest bit of fear.
Rosaleen stands up for herself when she encounters multiple racist men.
Person versus self
Rosaleen can be classified under the caregiver archetype.
“Rosaleen had never had a child herself, so for the last ten years I'd been her pet guinea pig" (Kidd 1).
compassion, selfless
being used or exploited
Lily is

- She trusts the Boatwright sisters enough to move in with them.
- She is vulnerable at first against her torturous father.
- She is shocked by the actions of the racist men.
Lily's ultimately seeks happiness and safety, which she displays by leaving T. Ray.
- She genuinely cares for Lily.
- She works hard as a house keeper.
- She may be feeling like she is just loved for her services.
Overall, Rosaleen's ultimate goal is to help others.
Person versus self


responsibility, leadership
authoritarian, power
T. Ray portrays a father archetype because:
He supplies Lily, his daughter, with life essentials.
He sends her off to school.
He is in charge of her.
At the end, he let her stay at the pink house for a better life.

The major conflict in the novel is
Lily vs herself
It is evident that the conflict is internal because:
*The novel begins with Lily fighting within herself over the fact she shot and killed her own mother.
*Lily struggles with recalling more details about how she is responsible with her mother's death.

*Lily struggles to be accepted by someone virtuous.
*Lily feels very unloved and unworthy of affection.
Supporting Quotations
"The gun on the floor. Bending to pick it up. The noise that exploded around us. This is what I know about myself.
She was all I wanted. And I took her away
" (Kidd 13).
Shows determination to register herself to vote.
Even after the incident with the three racist men, she still manages to not get an influence by them and register herself to vote.
"Rosaleen came home, a bona fide registered voter in the United States of America. We all sat around that evening, waiting to eat dinner, while she personally called every one of the Daughters on the telephone" (Kidd 191).
Ultimately, T. Ray's goal is to have and control a successful family.
The End

4 stars
Why I recommend?
Who is it for?
Set in 1964, South Carolina, this story tells the tale of Lily Owens, a 14-year-old girl who is anguished by the past memory of her late mother.

Lily lives on a peach farm with her cruel father T. Ray, who tells Lily that she accidentally shot her mother, Deborah, when she was four.

Lily accompanies the family's black housekeeper, Rosaleen, to town to register to vote. Taunted by white men, she spills her snuff jar on their feet, is beaten, taken to jail, and later to the hospital. T. Ray reacts by punishing Lily, prompting her to run away.

Back with Rosaleen, she heads to South Carolina to investigate a picture of her mother's of a black Madonna with the words "Tiburon, SC" written on the back.

In a store she sees jars of honey with the same picture, leading her to the black Boatwright sisters- August, June, and May- who raise bees and harvest honey, live in a bright pink house, and practice their own religion.

Though the sisters provide a loving home for Lily, she's reluctant to ask about her mother. She befriends Zach, a black boy who works with the bees, and witnesses additional examples of racism in the town. Eventually, she learns the truth about her mother.

- Incredibly written
- Great character development
- Full of good themes
- Fun bee analogies
"You can hate me all you want, but
the one who left you" (Kidd 39).
Anyone who likes inspiring powerful coming-of-age books.
Conflicts effects on characters
Created by the
death of Lily's mom.
*She doesn't understand why T. Ray treats her horribly.
How does conflict
affect characters?
Lily discovers herself.
Lily matures into a young woman.
Rosaleen becomes committed.
Rosaleen fits in with the Boatwright sisters.
T. Ray becomes truthful.
T. Ray becomes kinder.
Things I dislike:
- Cliche
- Kinda boring
- Narrator voice sounds older
What conflict is left?
“And there they were. All these mothers. I have more mothers than any eight girls off the street. They are the moons shining over me”
(Kidd 302).
* Major conflict is resolved.
Lily is at peace and finds out she
has mothers all around her and in
her heart.
* External conflict is unresolved.
Majority of society's racism is unsolved.
Theme Statement
People grow through unpleasant experiences.
"Becca and I watch for Zach in the lunchroom and sit with him every change we get. We have reputations as "nigger lovers" (Kidd 301).
Author Background
Sue Monk Kidd
Inspired by her father's stories growing up in the South
Teachers encouraged her to write her own stories and keep journals
Graduated from Texas Christian University in 1970 with a degree in Nursing
Returned to writing classes after she was married and had 2 kids
Most of her writing is very spiritual and focuses a lot on transformation

Historical Overview
Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement in the summer of 1964.
Minority groups in America, especially African Americans, were being denied the basic human rights provided for other American citizens, (namely whites).
The assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963 fueled fears that the the civil rights work he initiated for American minorities would be lost.
Yet, Lyndon B. Johnson, the new president, urged for the passage of a civil rights bill that would further the progress made under JFK.
When the Civil Rights Act passed, many whites were angered by it and continued to treat African Americans cruelly.
Other events that made the 1960's a compelling time period included:

protests against Vietnam War
Continuation of the Cold War
Race to conquer space
changes in popular culture- rock & roll, sexual revolution
Coming of Age
Search for Identity
Relationships with parents
Resilience of the human spirit
Man's Inhumanity to Man
Discrimination, prejudice, class structure
Do Now: Journal Entry 1
What do you think the term “coming of age” means? What events do you expect to read about in a “coming of age” novel? How would this event or time be significant to you?
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