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The Secret Life of Bees: Water Motif

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Hannah G

on 29 April 2013

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Transcript of The Secret Life of Bees: Water Motif

Water Motif Rosaleen & Lily's Fight Our Lady of Chains May's Suicide and Letter pages 52-56 pages 108-110 pages 192 & 210 The Secret Life of Bees in Sue Monk Kidd's After leaving T-Ray, Rosaleen and Lily crossed a river, where they stopped to rest. Rosaleen believed Lily had been ordering her around “like a pet dog”, and Lily took offense. Lily “didn’t want to be on the same planet with her, much less the same side of the creek”. Later, Lily “found Rosaleen in the middle of the creek”, where she sought forgiveness as if from a mother. Lily then submerged herself in the water, "I slid down till the water sealed over my head... sinking as far as i could into that shimmering dark world." Upon arriving at the Boatwright house, the built-up heat “gave way to a thunderstorm”. Lily states that it “flew over and misted our faces. Every time I refused to wipe away the wetness. It made the world seem so alive to me”. As Rosaleen stood in the rain, Lily noticed “she was returning to herself, looking like an all-weather queen out there, like nothing could touch her”. Thunderstorm page 75 August tells the story of Obadiah discovering the statue: “He saw something washed up on the bank. Coming closer, he saw it was the wooden figure of a woman ... Obadiah knew the Lord had sent this figure, but he didn’t know who she was”. An elderly slave identified the statue as Mary, who had “seen suffering of every kind ... sent to them on the same waters that had brought them here in chains. It seemed to them she knew everything they suffered”. Ever since her arrival in Tiburion, Lily has found June Boatwright to be distant and rather unfriendly towards her. One afternoon, in an effort to beat the heat with May, Rosaleen and August, Lily turned a garden sprinkler on a surprised June exclaiming “You come over here and you’re gonna get wet”. Lily “saw the softening come around June’s eyes” and they “sprawled back on the grass in convulsions of laughter... then, to my shock, she hugged me". June, Lily and a Sprinkler pages 169-170 Lily describes May as “in two feet of water with a huge river stone on top of her chest. It weighted her body, holding it on the bottom” (192). While it may appear that water has brought death in this case, it brought peace to May’s tormented soul. May’s goodbye letter reads, “Think how happy I’ll be with April Mama, Papa and Big Mama ... I’m tired of carrying around the weight of the world” (210). Thunderstorm During Lily and
August's Discussion of Deborah page 244 Thea Anderson
Kellin McDermott
Hannah Grasso As stated before, water represents rebirth and the wash away of negative emotions and circumstances. By May submitting to the water she is ending one stage in her journey and beginning another; she is reborn. The water also symbolizes May's eternal release from cycle of unpleasant feelings and situations, through the river's continuous cleansing and weightlessness. May used to calm herself by taking baths, but when that was no longer enough she took an eternal bath. Ironically, May is found with a stone on her chest, which in general would symbolize emotional weight and fatigue, but in this circumstance it represents the complete opposite: an unburdening of "the weight of the world". Water as a symbol of life as well as a means of cleansing, and rebirth, this is esspecially present in the Old Testament,"God commanded the water to bring out an abundance of living souls" (Genesis 1:20-21). The river relates to the overall theme of Christianity in the book. By Lily submerging herself in the river, she is baptized and purified, truely becomeing one of God's "Living souls". Baptism symbolizes rebirth and the cleaning of past sin. In this way Lily is being reborn into her life without T Ray and is washing away all the pain and suffering tied to it. In this scene water also heals Lily's and Rosaleens relationship, it isn't until the are both submergered in it that they can truely for give one another. Healing is also another use for water in the Old Testament, as shown in the stories of Naaman the Syrian cured from his leprosy in the waters of Jordan Water is often viewed as the source of life itself. Lily recognizes this vitality in water, noting she felt "alive" when it touched her. This sense of life was one that she lacked with her life with T-Ray: she could not live her life fully under his rule. Now that she is beginning a new life in Tiburon, she can fully appreciate the vitality of life. She is regaining her own self, and since she "refused to wipe away the wetness", she signals that she is ready to take on her new life. This can also be interpeted religiously, in the bible, God is often compared with the rain (Hosea 6:3). And later on, it says that water brings life (cf. Exodus 15:23-35 this is just like how the rain bring Lily back to life. The effigy of Mary is the central aspect of the Daughters of Mary religion. The followers of this faith believe that Mary knows what troubles they face and helps to relieve their suffering. Through worship of Mary, the worshipers find peace and hope. The statue came to the group through the ocean and serves as another example of water bringing love and renewal. Just as Rosaleen and Lily found forgiveness in the river, the ocean brought hope to this group of worshipers, and ultimately to Lily. This moment is the turning point in June and Lily's relationship. Through a simple garden sprinkler, the two women are able to see beyond their past experiences with one another and live in the present moment of summer fun. In this scene the water represents the building of a relationship as well as the ever changing quality and state of water, which symbolizes the ability to enjoy a moment despite previous experiences, as is demonstrated by June's sudden burst of forgiveness and friendliness. Water was the fondation on which Lily and June relationship was built, similarly in Genesis 1:6-7, 9-10, water was the foundation which the world was built. As August told Lily the disheartening truth about her mother, "thunder rumbled over the trees" and when August revealed Deborah's humanizing childhood moments and imperfections, Lily "was... washed in sadness." This scene is crucial in Lily's journey, because she finally sees her mother as an imperfect being who had her own needs and wants. . As a result, Lily must learn to carry the weight of the truth instead of her idealized mental image. The presence of the storm washes away Lily's delusions and brings the truth to light. Thunder in the bible represents God's voice and presence. Thunder also marks truth and enlightenment. REV 14:2 "And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder" Water is not only a symbol of development in this story but is also a symbol of development in the real world. If you have a look at our thriving nations, you will see that every developed nation has access to a water supply. If you than look at nations who are in need of development you will see they struggle to have water. places such as most African people remain without water and under developed where as the U.S.A has water and is developed. If water was taken away from us at the dawn of man we would have long been extinct which is similar to how we would end up if we didn't develop from that. Lily's journey throughout the novel significantly changes her life. She ultimately finds what she lacked in her previous life with T-Ray: love. Her life was based upon an idealized mental image of the mother she never truly had, as well as false belief in T-Ray's love for her. This foundation is changed by the threat to these beliefs, setting the other chain reaction of changes in motion. Lily left her old life at the farm behind, ran with Rosaleen to South Carolina and stayed with strangers, who changed to mother figures.

The water motif is present at all these times of change and symbolically offers renewal. Considering water's great symbolism in our society and for all of humanity, its incorporation is significant, symbolizing Lily's ever 'flowing' journey despite obstacles in the way. Without the renewal Lily ultimately finds at every instance of the motif, no matter its source, she may have been unable to carry on. change & renewal Honors English
Mr. Cooksey
Period 7 Humanity WATER CYCLE: Water is constantly renewing itself. While a river may flow incessantly, the river's water is never the same, but instead is always changing. water, change and renewal in our lives EVERY DAY: When people seek cleansing or even emotional renewal, we tend to desire a long bath or shower. For example, May often coped with sadness by bathing. In times of stress, particularly times of change, many people are drawn to bodies of water, where we find peace. water, change and renewal in Lily's journey Human beings are composed of about 70% water. Consider this in relation to the significance of water as previously discussed. Water stands for change and renewal, and we are made from water. Therefore, it is in our own hands to spearhead change and renewal in our lives and in the world. Lily took this lesson in stride, walking out on her old life when she felt it was not what she needed. However, on the journey itself, she gained further understanding. Lily forgave Rosaleen after a major argument, sought answers to life-changing questions and took the initiative to begin a relationship with June. Lily has struggled to live life to the fullest, but her story proves that while it may be hard for humans to change their lives, in the end, it will be for the better. Overview This presentation explores the use of a water motif to create meaning in the life & journey of the protagonist in The Secret Life of Bees as well as our own.

-Motif quotes and analysis
-Change and renewal for Lily & her journey
-Change and renewal in our lives Water is universally symbolic of renewal and change. Motif Appearances and Analysis Thank you
for your time! change and renewal in America's journey Changes in America were monumental during the 1960s, the period in which The Secret Life of Bees is set. The Civil Rights Movement peaked during this decade. Worldwide movements for equality before the law
Primary goal: ensure the rights of all people are equally protected by the law, including women's rights & African American rights
Often aimed to achieve change by nonviolent resistance African American Civil Rights Movement Aimed at outlawing racial discrimination against African Americans and restoring their voting rights. Civil rights protesters at the Lincoln Memorial, 1964 A notable legislative achievement during this time was the passing of the Civil Rights Act on July 2, 1964. Outlawed major forms of discrimination against racial, ethnic, national, & religious minorities as well as against women
This specific event is a major turning point in America's journey. The introduction of this legislation helped to spur a permanent change in our society's mindset. Today, equality for African Americans is, thankfully, the norm.
Lily and Rosaleen watched Pres. Johnson sign the Act into law on pg. 20, just as the novel begins to unfold. America's journey of change is beginning just as Lily's journey is beginning. Kidd's use of the water motif in The Secret Life of Bees does stand primarily to demonstrate the changes in Lily's life, but when the setting is considered, also represents this time of new beginnings for America. RELIGIOUS SYMBOLISM: As mentioned earlier, the sacrament of baptism is commonplace in many religions. The participant is placed underwater, representing death and 'drowning' of previous ways, then raised again to begin a new life. Water provides spiritual renewal and religious comfort for many, keeping with the central theme of religion in the novel. The Boatwrights and the Ark Baptism in a river, 1960s The last names of the Pink house sister's: Boatwright, is essential to the underlying meaning of the book. The surname in old English means boat builders, and that is exactly what these sister are for Lily and the era. The sister's build an emotional support boat for Lily to ride out the storm of the immense changes and traumas that occur in her life. They are her Noah's ark when the flood washes away her illusions, prejudges, and past life. This concept can also be applied universally to this time period, it too was a flood great change: from the civil rights movement, to women's equality, to new age beliefs, and self empowerment. Since the Boatwright sister were all these things before this change occurred they were saved and remain timeless while the rest of the world was washed away to a new era.
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