Free Essay

The Secret Life of Bees

In: English and Literature

Submitted By TessU
Words 1126
Pages 5
Tess Ungerleider
Mrs. Schlangen
Honors English II
July 14, 2014
The Secret Life of Bees
In Sue Monk Kidd’s, The Secret Life of Bees, she demonstrates many literary devices such as motifs, foreshadowing, and themes. The one device that stands out the most is her use of symbolism. Symbolism is defined “as a literary element that uses symbols to signify ideas or qualities by giving them symbolic meanings that are different from their literal sense” (Literary Devices 1). In The Secret Life of Bees, symbolism is shown by Black Mary, the Wailing Wall, and the bees.
In the novel, Black Mary represents something different for each character. For the store clerk and the people in the town, they see Black Mary as a label on a honey bottle. The clerk tells Lily that most people do not buy the honey “‘cause it’s got the Virgin Mary pictured as a colored women” (Kidd 64). For the Boatwright sisters, it stands for something completely diverse. They call Black Mary the Black Madonna. She represents their hope and aspiration, as well as their religion. Every night before they go to sleep, the Daughters of Mary all pray and worship the wooden statue. Another symbol she stands for is female power. Because of this, August Boatwright is able to help Lily become a powerful woman, and be able to stand up to other students and even T. Ray. Lastly, Black Mary signifies a connection Lily has with her mother because she found the wooden picture with some of her belongings. Through this picture, Lily is able to find a family that will love her and take care of her as if she had been part of it from the very beginning. Not only does it bring Lily closer to her mother, it also symbolizes holding onto the past. Lily tells the readers that “Now and then I’d out there and dig up the box. I would lie on the ground with the trees folded over me, wearing her gloves, smiling at her photograph” (Kidd 14). By cherishing this photo and keeping it by her side, it shows that Lily is unwilling to let go of what happened in the past.
The Wailing Wall is another symbol in the story that signifies suffering and sorrow, but also support and strength. The wall was built mainly by May Boatwright who would get overwhelmed by listening to sad news or hearing about someone else’s grief. As a warning, she began to hum “Oh! Susanna!” to let everyone know that the subject had affected her. May would then go outside and write on a piece of paper what troubled her and stick it under a rock. August tells Lily that “when you and I hear about some misery out there, it might make us feel bad for a while…But May…Everything just comes into her- all the suffering out there- and she feels as if it’s happening to her” (Kidd 95). May builds the wall because she sees it as a way to deal with all of her pain and to find strength along with a sense of peace. May had a sister named April who had died a few years ago. April was her wall and would choose what May should feel so that she would not be burdened with grief and sadness. The wall not only helps May, but Lily as well. Lily had been suffering her entire life while living with T. Ray and his cruel punishments. He took all his anger from her mother leaving onto her, and did not treat her kindly. Lily feels as if “somebody should personally thank every rock out there for the human misery it had absorbed” (Kidd 187). Lastly, the symbol of bees mirrors and guides the characters in the novel. August tells Lily that “every bee has its role to play” (Kidd 148.) They symbolize people working together and that each person plays a certain part. In every hive there is a queen bee and it’s her job to tell the worker bees, what to do, “She’s the mother of every bee in the hive, and they all depend on her to keep it going” (Kidd 149). In the novel, the queen bee is August. She runs the honey making business, and is the oldest of the Boatwright sisters. She guides June, May, Lily, Zach, and Rosaleen. She takes care of them as if they were her own children, and she protects them. Black Mary can also be seen as the queen bee because she is worshiped and guides everyone. The Daughters of Mary pray to her and draw support from her. The worker bees are Zach, Lily, and Neil because they work for August and collect the honey. Workers bees continuously leave the hive, just as they leave the house and retrieve the honey from the fields. May and Rosaleen can be seen as the caretaker bees because they clean the house and provide the meals. June falls under the third class of bees which are the ones who clean out the hive of the dead respectfully. June, in the same way respects the dead by playing for the people who are grieving for their lost ones. The bees also serve another purpose, they are Lily’s unspoken guides throughout the novel. In the very beginning when Lily was back home with T. Ray, they came into her room trying to show her a way out. Lily then begins to follow the honey label, which leads her to Tiburon where she becomes a care taker of bees. The bees also help Lily realize things, like the fact that she was in love with Zach when she licked the honey off his fingers. In the end, Lily is inspired by the bees’ ability to keep working and surviving which she applies into her own life.
In conclusion, symbolism in The Secret Life of Bees is shown by Black Mary, Wailing Wall, and the bees. Black Mary signifies the women’s hope, aspiration, their religion, and she gives them support and strength. Although the Wailing Wall symbolizes suffering and sorrow, it also represents the strength and support that May receives from her family. The bees show the dynamics of a family and that each person has a certain role they play in their life. With these symbol’s Kidd creates a deep story that invites the reader to look below the surface and see meaning behind a wooden statue, a rock wall, and a hive of bees.

Works Cited:
Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
Bavota, C. "Symbolism - Definition and Examples | Literary Devices." Literary Devices. Magazine Basic, 2014. Web. 13 July 2014. <http://literarydevices.net/symbolism/>.

Similar Documents

Premium Essay

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

...The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is the work that captured me. “Once we connect, we find ourselves escaping from the routine of our ordinary lives, caught up into adventure and entertained.” (Clugston, 2010 pg 2) When reading this story, I liked how the author, James Thurber, portrays Walter Mitty as a constant, irresponsible daydreamer, who then becomes serious in nature. I can relate to all of it, I am a daydreamer who then becomes serious. I have actually said the same thing as Walter Smitty when he states “Does it ever occur to you that I am sometimes thinking?” (Clugston, 2010 pg 8) With this story, it was feelings that captivated me. I was able to feel and understand what James Thurber was writing about. The feelings that James Thurber created in his writing of the story were the feelings that I was having at that moment. The connections that I made between this piece of literature and others that I have read have to do with the feelings of the author’s writing. In this story he portrays the main character, Walter Smitty, as a bumbling day dreamer and his wife as a nagger My connection to the story did actually give me new insights. It gave me the insight from the view point of others. Walter Mitty’s wife is in the position that my boyfriend finds himself in a lot with me, his having to constantly remind me of things because I often forget things. When he is talking to me while I am day dreaming and just agreeing with what he says, I do not......

Words: 338 - Pages: 2

Free Essay

Secret Life of Bees- Fighting for Their Rights

...Fighting for Their Rights Throughout The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, characters are constantly standing up for what they believe in. Rosaleen stands up for her civil rights, Lily stands up for freedom from her dad, the Boatwrights and the Daughters of Mary stood up for the equality of women and African Americans. When Rosaleen heard of the signing of the civil rights act, she immediately went to register to vote, and when Lily was acting like she was stupid, she stood up for herself. When Lily’s dad was abusing her and not allowing her to do with her life what she wanted, Lily ran away from home in an attempt to find her own way through life. As African American women, society put the Boatwrights at a lower level than men and white people, and so they create their own organization in which they are special. Throughout the novel, Rosaleen Daise, Lily Owens, and the Boatwrights all stand up for what they believe in, signifying that people can only get past the expectations of society by fighting for what they think is right. In standing up for her beliefs of civil equality, Rosaleen moves past the set place that society has placed her in. Upon the signing of the Civil rights act, Rosaleen spends hours practicing her signature so that she will be able to register to vote without being rejected. When Rosaleen was on her way to vote and she was questioned by racist white men, she retaliated by pouring her snuff juice on their feet. After the white men beat her......

Words: 1459 - Pages: 6

Premium Essay

Secret Life of Bees- Book Report

...The Secret Life Of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd. Book Report, Dorthea Søiland The secret life of bees centres on Lily’s search for clues and connections to her mother, who was killed when Lily was a little girl. We get to follow her journey as she runs away from her abusive father along with her nanny Rosaleen. Lily is longing to be loved, because the lack of it in her past life is destroying her. “People who think dying is the worst thing, don’t know a thing about life” Lily, p2. The novel is an excellent written drama. It explores race, love and the idea of family and home in troubled times. The author of the book, Sue Monk Kidd, is a well-known writer who has written other known books such as “The Mermaid Chair”(2005) and “A Mother-Daughter Story”(2010). She has been on the New York Times bestselling list twice, which one of them were with this very novel. The secret life of bees was published in 2002 by Penguin Books New York. The story takes place in South Carolina in the 1960’s, which we can say is a time were racism was on it’s worst. Time and place has a lot to do with the story, and we get to look into a time were being black wasn’t easy. The main character of the book is fourteen years old Lily. She is a brave and smart girl, whose only wish for a birthday present is to know a little about her mother. Her fear of living a life without being loved is getting her to write poems, which she’s good at. All-tough Lily doesn’t have a mother she has a father, T....

Words: 1924 - Pages: 8

Free Essay

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

...The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Cadina Odum ENG125 Mary Lounsbury March 17, 2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” (Thurber, 1939) is a short story by James Thurber. The most famous of Thurber’s stories, it first appeared in The New Yorker on March 18, 1939. This short story deals with a vague and mild-mannered man who drives into Waterbury, Connecticut and his wife for their regular weekly shopping and his wife’s visit to the beauty parlor. During this time he has five heroic daydream episodes, ranging from being a pilot in the U.S. Navy flying boat to being on a secret suicide mission to bomb an ammunition dump. In the following paragraphs I will tell why this story captured my interest, describe an analytical approach and evaluate this work and the meaning of the story. This story using great detail with descriptive, imaginative wording brings the reader in and allows you to visualize what he is daydreaming. This is the type of writing that draws me in and allows me to imagine what is going on. This work is a good example of farce (a comedy; a short play, in which both subtle humor and hilarity are developed through improbable situations, exaggeration and (often) ridiculous antics) (Clugston, 2010). Selected to show how humor can be used imaginatively in a story to illustrate the need for communication in human relationships: Mitty’s immersion in extraordinary matters of his dream world blocks him from sensitivity to his......

Words: 689 - Pages: 3

Free Essay

The Secret Life of Bees

...The Secret life of bees There was a girl name Lily and her dad is name T- Ray. Her mother was name Deborah she died when she was younger. T-Ray beats Lily he is very mean to her and he wouldn’t let her do anything, or go anywhere. When she does something wrong he makes her kneel down in grits that was Lily punishment. One day Lily was laying in her room and listening to bees hit the wall. She told her daddy T-Ray while he was sleeping that is was some bees in her room he didn’t believe her. She asked him to come into her room so he did so when he got in there the bees where gone. Lily was upset, because that they were gone because she said the bees probably heard her talking to T- Ray about them. He said, Lily it’s not any bees in here” she told him they are in the wall. So Lily and T-Ray put their heads to the wall T-Ray didn’t hear them, but Lily did. He told Lily don’t call me anymore about those bees if you call me and it’s not major T-Ray told her I’m going to be mad at you . Lily has a house keeper that is name Rosaleen she takes care of Lily. One day Rosaleen and Lily went to vote uptown and these white men where there on the porch. The men had asked Rosaleen what are you doing here Negro. She told them that her name was Rosaleen, but they kept on calling her Negro so she poured snuff juice on their shoes. The men’s got mad and they called the Sylvan Police on her and the police came and got Rosaleen to take her to jail. When they got to the police station......

Words: 739 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Secret Life of Bees Analysis

...Michael Sarafian English 2 Honors 16 December 2010 Secret Life of Bees Analysis Can you imagine living in a world where racism surrounds you everywhere? The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd explores the story of a courageous young white girl growing up in South Carolina, battling racism while segregation takes place. The story starts out with Lily Owens and Rosaleen going on a quest and to escape far away from her father to find more about the picture of the Black Virgin Mary. Little does she know, she will learn the real word of all the hatred against blacks The first encounter of racism is at August Boatwright’s house. Lily asks August if she can stay at her house and June, August’s sister, comes in and immediately says “But she’s white (87). This part is significant and suggests that black and whites cannot get along with each other because of the hatred towards each other. August, surprisingly enough sais yes making a noble move. Lily’s first thought is how educated August is and how cultured she is. Like how she doesn’t judge people inside simply on skin color. Then Lily, being partially racist realizes that black people can be as smart as whites when she sees August noble move symbolizing everyone is equal and no race is more dominate than the other. The second encounter of racism occurs with Lily and Zack when they become friends because of their similar interests. The two discuss what they want to be and Zack’s dream was to become a lawyer and Lily......

Words: 559 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

The Secret Life of Bees

...Book Report Options Mrs. McDonough For 8th grade D.E.C.A.L. English classes The following is a list of project types that can be created to showcase your learning and understanding of the story that you read on your own. Each marking period you will first have a book approved by Mrs. McDonough. Each marking period will have a different genre that students must read. At the end of the presentations, the new genres for the next 9 weeks will be revealed. These book report options will be presented in class during the 8th week. YOU MAY NOT REPEAT PROJECTS!  Students will be graded on the written portion of the option for a writing grade. The presentation and conversation will be graded on comprehension of the story and receive a grade for Reading. It is important that you include literary elements. In addition, you must always include the title, author, genre, setting, plot, characters, & theme. The expectations for the oral presentations is that you stand in the front of the classroom and share with the class the plot of your book, some interesting points (about the story or your project) explain the elements of your project, any opinions, and any recommendations. It is really important that you do NOT read to the class. The objective of a presentation is your ability to talk about something to the class, not to read things to us. – PLEASE ASK......

Words: 1505 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

...The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Loren Martin Sahag Gureghian Eng 125 16 September 2013 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Throughout this class, I’ve been stretched further mentally than I have in a long time. I am not a naturally a person who sits and reads poems or tries to see if there is symbolism being used in a short story. For me, I take life the same way I do what I read, at face value. If you talk to me about June, I will take you literally, like you’re talking about the month of June. I won’t get that your symbolizing an establishment. So I guess that even though literature is very frustrating to me, I think maybe I’ve learned a few things. One of the things that we looked at in this class was themes in literature. What themes are, and how they may or may not flow through poems or short stories. I am going to take a look at two very different short stories, and show how the theme is the same. We will take a look at the way they are written, Walter Mitty, although he is a figment of someone else’s imagination, reminds me of some of my friends, and ultimately myself. The writer’s main focus is Mr. Mitty’s ability to slip into “another world”, completely forgetting where he is at and what he is doing in the present. The world he slips into is a world that makes him more important than the monotonous world he lives in. Although Mitty isn’t completely cut off from reality, he utilizes his ideal world to cope with his seemingly boring life. One of the......

Words: 910 - Pages: 4

Free Essay

Secret Life of Bees

...The novel, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, shows the tragic events in a young girls life and demonstrates how she overcomes her problems and finds herself. Lily Owens starts out as a troubled and confused girl. By the end of the book she overcomes her obstacles and becomes a confident young woman. Lily uses the pain from her father's abuse and mother's absence to mature into a young woman. When the story starts out, Lily Owens is a little girl who has always been put down by her father and as a result has a lack of confidence and lack of hope for the future. When lily thinks she hears bees buzzing in her room she called for her fathers help and T-Ray said " I guess they must have flown out of that cuckoo clock you call a brain. You wake me up again, lily, and I'll go get the Martha Whites, you hear me?" (Page 31/734). This shows here that she was abused physically and mentally . Instead of receiving comfort from her father Lily was made fun of and threatened. Obviously from the quote, we learn that the emotional and physical abuse were already a pattern in Lily's life. Already Lily's strength of character surfaces. Although she was afraid of her fathers form of punishment her courage and boldness are demonstrated when she says "still I couldn't let the master go entirely- T-ray thinking I was so desperate I would invent an invasion of bees to get attention. Which is how I got the bright idea of catching a jar of these bees, presenting them to T-Ray and......

Words: 720 - Pages: 3

Premium Essay

Secret Life of Bees

...102 12/10/13 Secret Life of Bees In 1964, Lily Owens is fourteen years old. She has no mother, a father whom she despises, and no friends to turn to when she needs a shoulder to cry on. Not only does Lily have to deal with feelings of loneliness and betrayal caused by her parents, but in a time troubled by negativity towards the Civil Rights Act, she is also faced with situations that force her to grow up very fast. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a page turning novel about Lily’s journey to find answers to her past. There are themes and symbolisms throughout the book. Racism, forgiveness/coping, and bees are big ones for many characters throughout the novel. The summer of 1964 in South Carolina comes at the peak for race relationships in American history, a summer when much of white Americans showed no respect towards the blacks. The nature of racism is discussed throughout Lily’s story. It is important to understand she grew up in the South, where races were separated by both law and attitudes. Lily does not attempt to reconcile her love for Rosaleen with her understanding that blacks are inferior to whites. “Rosaleen pulled back the towel; I saw an inch-long gash across a puffy place high over her eyebrow.” (Kidd). Is one of the first times she started to see racism, but not to the fullest understanding. When Rosaleen’s life is threatened by a system that Lily doesn’t understand, she knows only that she must save Rosaleen’s life, even if......

Words: 1578 - Pages: 7

Free Essay

Secret Life of Walter Mitty

... The Secret life of Walter Mitty and The story of an Hour David Babers ENG 125 Sabine Reljic January 27, 2014 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and The Story of an Hour share a variety of similarities along with many differences. The main points of these stories shows the dynamics love within their marriage but in different way; both woman share common bond of tolerance, for their significant other when it comes to the lack of certain things in their marriage. One of the first similarities of the two stories I notice was the fact that both of the men wives was extremely concerned about their significant others well being. Even though the displayed their affection for their husbands with different actions it was more than obvious that each of them was in sync with their other half’s. Both of the literary pieces where written and described in different points of view. “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” was written in the form of an omniscient third person point of view. This allows the narrator to describe his own thoughts of the character as the story progresses. But as far is the character Mrs. Mitty it seems as she speaks in more so a first person point of view, as her words and thoughts seems to be more so given in a direct and plain form. As for the “The Story of anf Hour” it is also written in the third person point of view, but it would be considered more so as a limited third person omniscient.    “This......

Words: 2698 - Pages: 11

Premium Essay

Secret Life of Bee's- Reaction Paper

...manner. Lily narrates the story and presents an attitude that maybe considered that similar to the tone a child when sharing personal information that have written in a diary, except with less self-loathing and more passionate feelings. Lily’s father who shows evidence of not only being a bigot but who is uncompassionate and callous which makes it more than difficult for her to grow up as normal girl, as he treats his own daughter as an inconvenience. Growing up Lily was limited to the girly activities she was permitted to do I assume she may have a tad of an immature superego due to this, according to I reference this as I believe her moral development is inadequate. However, she is still in her adolescent stages and has plenty of more life ahead of her to enhance to her current development. This story takes place in nineteen sixty four in South Carolina a place where I believe racism and social constructionism strongly existed , as the rights of African Americans were in place but not in fair and full affect, which is what their elders were accustomed to and what people were taught to believe. As Lily’s father had a whole peach crop of African American workers and one, named Rosaleen, that specifically catered to his house hold duties, as this error displayed gender-role stereotypes, the men worked hard to make money and the women took care of the house chores and children. I suppose this was good in a sense as Lily did not have her own mother so Rosaleen, although......

Words: 1509 - Pages: 7

Premium Essay

Secret Life

... ATRIA BOOKS New York London Toronto Sydney ATRIA BOOKS 1230 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10020 20827 N.W. Cornell Road, Suite 500 Hillsboro, Oregon 97124-9808 503-531-8700 tel 503-531-8773 fax www.beyondvvord.com Copyright © 2006 by TS Production Limited Liability Company THE SECRET and The Secret logo are trademarks or registered trademarks owned by or licensed to TS Production Limited Liability Company www.thesecret.tv All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, copied, stored, or transmitted in any form or by any means—graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or information storage and retrieval systems— without the prior written permission of Atria Books/Beyond Words Publishing, Inc., except where permitted by law. The information contained in this book is intended to be educational and not for diagnosis, prescription, or treatment of any health disorder whatsoever. This information should not replace consultation with a competent healthcare professional- The content of the book is intended to be used as an adjunct to a rational and responsible healthcare program prescribed by a healthcare practitioner. The author and publisher are in no way liable for any misuse of the material. Library of Congress Control Number: 2006933243 1SBN-13:978-1-58270-170-7 ISBN-10: 1-58270-170-9 First Atria Books/Beyond Words hardcover edition November 2006 10 ATRIA BOOKS is a trademark of Simon & Schuster, Inc.......

Words: 42467 - Pages: 170

Free Essay

The Secret Life of Bees

...The Secret Life Of Bees The Secret Life of Bees is the story of Lily Owens, a girl who has shaped her life around one devastating memory—the afternoon when her mother (Deborah) was killed, when Lily was four. Besides her harsh and unyielding father ,T.Ray, Lily’s only real companion is Rosaleen, a tender, but fierce-hearted black woman who cooks, cleans and acts as her "stand-in mother." Set in 1964 in South Carolina, a place and time of seething racial divides, violence explodes one summer afternoon, and Rosaleen is arrested and beaten. Lily is desperate, not only to save Rosaleen, but to flee from a life she can no longer endure. Calling upon her colorful wits and youthful daring, Lily breaks Rosaleen out of jail and the two escape, into what quickly becomes Lily’s quest for the truth about her mother’s life. They are taken in by three black, bee-keeping sisters, May, June, and August, and Lily is consumed by their secret world of bees and honey, and of the Black Madonna who presides over this household of strong, wise women. Lily’s journey is one of painful secrets and shattering betrayals but that ultimately helps Lily find the thing her heart longs for most. Throughout the book, the reader comes to know a cluster of characters. One character that sticks out the most is June Boatwright. According to the book "her hair was cut so short it resembled a little gray, curlicue swim cap pulled tight over her scalp." June is a teacher at a 'colored' school, which is where......

Words: 495 - Pages: 2

Premium Essay

Secret Life of Bees

...Secret Life of Bees Reading Log Ch.9 Chapter Summary: The chapter starts with Lily and August hanging around on a scorching hot day and because of the heat they had to go out and make sure the bees had everything they needed so they wouldn’t die. Afterwards, they returned to the house and found Rosaleen and May spraying each other with a hose. They soon after joined in, and then when June came out to see what was going on, Lily sprayed her with the hose drenching her clothes. In spite of her attempts to stay angry, June joined in as well. Afterwards June and Lily finally broke the ice and became friends. Later on within the chapter Zach and his friends were hanging near the theater where the white men were, soon after his friends get out the car and harasses the men and Zach got out of the car to join them while they loudly made fun of the men for thinking Jack Palance was showing up. When one of the men replied back, Jackson who is Zach’s friend threw his Cola bottle at the men and the police showed up and arrested them all... Character Summary: Lily is very charismatic and just an all-out nice person during this chapter, this is shown by her actions such as when her and June finally became friends with each other after the playful incident that occurred during the water fight with the hose. Also Lily shows that she is very charismatic by going to visit Zach in jail and show her support and love for the innocent young man, she appears that she may have feelings for......

Words: 525 - Pages: 3