Free Study Guide for The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd|
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Lily is the main character and protagonist of the novel. She must work to overcome the plot’s major conflict, which is that she must learn about her dead mother in order to understand her own life. Lily finally overcomes this conflict when she confronts the novel’s antagonist, T. Ray. The climax occurs when Lily refuses to submit to him--thus ridding herself of his verbal and physical abuse and allowing herself the freedom to discover who she is. In this scene she also finally confronts the truth about her mother--Lily learns that she is truly responsible for killing her mother.
In learning the truth about her mother and freeing herself from T. Ray, Lily can finally begin the process of forgiving. In forgiving, Lily is set free to start fresh. Lily gives herself the opportunity for a bright future and finally learns what it is like to be part of a loving family. Lily, who has been lost without a queen, finds a series of new queens in the new women in her life as well as in Mary.
The exposition is the section of a novel in which the main characters
and main conflict are introduced. Any relevant background information
is also given in this section. The exposition of this novel occurs in
Chapter One where we learn that the protagonist, Lily, leads a miserable
life with her father T. Ray. Her life became miserable when her mother,
Deborah, mysteriously died. Lily blames herself for Deborah’s death, although
she is not sure if she can believe T. Ray’s accusation that it was her
Rising action is the action that will lead to the climax (or the major
turning point in the plot). In this novel the rising action is everything
that happens before Lily confronts T. Ray.
The climax of a plot is the major turning point that allows the protagonist to resolve the conflict. The climax of The Secret Life of Bees occurs in Chapter Fourteen when Lily confronts T. Ray in the pink house. Throughout the novel, Lily has been struggling with who she is in relation to her mother’s death. In other words, Lily is having difficulty deciding what kind of woman she wants to be without the direction of a mother. As suggested in various epigraphs, Lily is wandering senselessly like a bee without a queen. When Lily confronts T. Ray she makes the decision not to live with him any longer. This decision is different than the one she made when she ran away because it is a permanent decision. It is also an informed decision. Lily realizes that T. Ray is a destructive person and that she cannot live subjected to his close-minded and cruel ways. This is an adult decision.
In this scene Lily also learns, definitively, that she was responsible
for her mother’s death. That Lily chases T. Ray in order to find out this
information suggests she is prepared for the possibility that she has
killed her mother. This turning point, in which Lily refuses to submit
to T. Ray and prepares to reconcile the guilt she has for killing her
mother, allows Lily to resolve her past and begin anew.
The outcome, resolution, or denouement of the novel occurs in the final
chapter where Lily replaces her “queen” and starts over. Throughout the
novel, Lily has been in search of herself as much as she has been in search
of her mother. Learning the truth about her mother--both that Deborah
left her and that she was responsible for Deborah’s death--allows Lily
to begin the process of forgiving them both. In forgiving, Lily is set
free to start fresh. Because she freed herself from T. Ray, Lily gives
herself the opportunity for a bright future and finally learns what it
is like to be part of a loving family. Lily, who has been lost without
a queen, finds a series of new queens in the new women in her life as
well as in Mary.
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. 09 May 2017