Free Study Guide for The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd|
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4. “But she’s white, August.” -June, p.87
June says this to August about Lily. When Lily overhears June make this comment, she becomes angry and thinks how absurd it is to dislike someone for her skin color. This is an interesting moment in the novel because white people do not usually experience this type of discrimination.
5. “Well if you have a queen and a group of independent-minded bees that split off from the rest of the hive and look for another place to live, then you’ve got a swarm.” -August, p. 93
This statement explains how Lily feels, having broken away from her “hive.” She is moving senselessly, like bees in a swarm.
6. “Our mother said she was like Mary, with her heart on the outside of her chest.” -August, p. 97
August says this about May. This statement characterizes May’s emotional personality.
7. “Lily, I like you better than any girl I’ve ever known, but you have to understand, there are people who would kill boys like me for even looking at girls like you.” -Zach, p.135
Zach says this to Lily regarding any potential romantic relationship between them. This comment shows how unfair racism is. Young love is typically carefree and easy. However, as young teenagers, Lily and Zach have to think about the prejudices of the larger society.
8. “Most people don’t have any idea about all the complicated life going on inside a hive. Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about” -August, p.148
This quotation is significant because, developing the metaphor of society as hive and bee as human, it shows that people are typically much more complicated that then appear on the surface.
9. “Putting black cloths on the hives is for us. I do it to remind us that life gives way into death, and then death turns around and gives way into life.” -August, p.206
Death as giving way to life is seen twice in this novel. The first instance is the way that May’s death propels June to marry Neil, thus establishing their new life together. The second time is when Lily finally reconciles with her mother’s death and is set free to truly begin her own life.
10. “It was you who did it, Lily. You didn’t mean it, but it was you.” T. Ray, p. 299
This statement occurs during the novel’s climax. Lily chases T. Ray
and asks him if she was responsible for Deborah’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. In allowing herself
to know this information, Lily begins to forgive herself for the past.
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. 15 May 2008