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Symbols in Secret Life of Bees
Transcript of Symbols in Secret Life of Bees
Journal Entry 21:
Lily tells Zach: “I’ll put it in a story.” She shares her thoughts: “It’s something everybody wants, for someone to see the hurt done to them and set it down like it matters” (185). What prompted her to say this? How are events in society affecting her personal life?
Symbolism in The Secret Life of Bees
1) Do Now: Journal Entry
2) Academic Vocabulary-“Anguish”
3) Mini-lesson on Symbolism
- Read Chpt. 10 with chronolog
- Constructed Response
- Study Island- Capitalization
5) Exit Ticket
What is Symbolism?
A symbol is
that contains several layers of meaning, often
at first sight, and is
of several other aspects/ concepts/ traits than those that are visible in the
using an object or action
means something more than its literal meaning.
The Black Mary
Beehives represent the community August has created in the pink house.
Bees live, work, and produce honey in beehives and just like in August’s community, female bees dominate the beehive, and the queen bee rules over everything.
The queen bee is the mother of every single other bee, just as, according to August, the Virgin Mary is the mother of all the women she is close to, whom she calls the Daughters of Mary.
Because the beehive is a very sensitive organism, the bees have developed many mechanisms to protect their home.
Likewise, August and her community have certain rituals—including prayer, celebration, and mourning—that help keep the members healthy.
These rituals become especially important when something bad happens in the community,.
The beehive has a symbolic function in the novel because as Lily learns about August’s community, and is welcomed into it, she also learns about the mechanics of the beehive and becomes familiar with it.
Photographs symbolize the power of relationships in The Secret Life of Bees.
Lily only has one photograph of her mother, but when she looks at this photograph she sees her mother’s lost potential and her own possible potential, which may or may not be fulfilled over the course of her life.
Lily assumes that she will inherit the beauty of her mother. And when she looks at the future, she also sees her beautiful future. In addition, she handles the photograph carefully, as carefully as one would handle a baby; in this way, the photograph represents the hope and desire that she might someday find and feel maternal love.
Lily also feels closer to Rosaleen when she discovers that Rosaleen also has a single photograph of her mother.
The Black Mary
The black Mary serves several functions in the novel.
As the picture, it symbolizes mothers and mother surrogates.
Lily carries around a wooden picture of the black Mary, which she found among some objects that once belonged to her mother.
This picture literally symbolizes Deborah to Lily, and eventually the picture leads Lily to August, a black woman who will become a surrogate mother.
Through August, Lily will learn about Mary, whom August considers to be the mother of all of humanity.
Significantly, Lily finds the wooden statue of Mary just seconds before she meets August, another instance of foreshadowing the relationship that will develop between August and Lily.
August, along with the members of her group, the Daughters of Mary, worship at the statue every night.
As a statue, the black Mary symbolizes the importance of having faith and believing in something larger than one’s self.
The black Mary statue also reinforces the importance of storytelling: before meeting August, Lily learned stories from books. But August tells stories, including stories about the origin of the black Mary, to teach Lily important lessons about life.