Free Study Guide for The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd|
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Lily, August and Zach drape the hives in black cloth. August tells her that this is a very old beekeeper tradition. The hives get covered so bees do not swarm off because the bees ensure that the dead person will live again. August tells Lily that she does not believe that the bees will help May get to heaven, but the black cloths remind the living that death gives way to life.
The Daughters of Mary come over with food and sit with May. As they are sitting in the parlor talking, Sugar-Girl makes a joke about white people--essentially saying that white people have enough money to spend it on ridiculous things. As everyone laughs at the joke, Lily is glad for another reason. No one tells Sugar-Girl to remember that there is a white person present. Lily feels like she is one of them. She thought that the civil rights movement was supposed to makes blacks and whites get along. However, after this moment, Lily thinks a better plan is to make everyone colorless together.
On the second day of the vigil, August finds May’s suicide note. In the note May tells August and June that it was her time to die, but it is their time to live. She warns that they better not “mess it up.” August and June hug. August tells June that May was right. She says that June has only been half-way living her life for too long and that she should marry Neil.
Neil spends as much time at the house as the Daughters and he is confused by June’s new devotion to him. August takes the cloths off the bee hives and May is buried.
The epigraph for this chapter tells us that bees live short lives, and when their environments are tense and their work especially strenuous, they die even younger. The major event of Chapter 10 is May’s death. Like the worker bees in the epigraph, May dies young because her environment it too much for her to handle.
The result of May’s untimely death is a heightened appreciation of life
for the other characters. August calls June’s attention to the way she
has been “half-living” her life and June seems to transform.
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