"The Secret Life of Bees" by Sue Monk Kidd

Essay by lildancegurl16High School, 12th gradeB, June 2004

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In The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd makes this evident through her protagonist, Lily Owens. Lily grows up in South Carolina during the 1960s, a time known for mass prejudice and the Civil Rights Movement. After the death of her mother, Lily is raised by her father T. Ray, and caretaker Rosaleen. Lily becomes drawn to Rosaleen and later decides to run away from home in an attempt to find truth and meaning about her mother. While on her journey, Lily meets June Boatwright, August Boatwright, and Zachary Taylor, three people who are quick to change her perception of life. June immediately teaches Lily that intolerance can go more than one way. Meanwhile, August keenly accepts Lily and educates her on some lifelong lessons. Zach is a young boy Lily meets while she resides at the Boatwright home. Lily quickly befriends Zach and realizes that because of the color of her skin, life is a lot easier for her than it is for others.

While on a mission to comprehend her life and her past, June, August, and Zach help Lily change her concealed views regarding prejudice within and all around her.

June shows Lily that there are two ways to intolerance. After moving into the Boatwright residence, Lily overhears a conversation with June and her sisters. June's sisters are willing to accept Lily into their home, but June insists that Lily cannot be trusted because she is white. In Lily's eyes, "This was a great revelation - not that [she] was white but that it seemed like June might not want [her] here because of [her] skin color. [Lily] hadn't known this was possible - to reject people for being white" (Kidd 87). Growing up in the 1960s, Lily is used to seeing discrimination...