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A Metaphysical Comparison Between "The Secret Life Of Bees" By Sue Monk Kidd And "A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man" By James Joyce

1543 words - 6 pages

The Development of the ArtistArtists come in many forms, shapes, and sizes, but all artists start out as children. It is often through experiences acquired while growing up that one has topics and inspiration for creating later in life. Lily Owens, the protagonist of The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce, are similar characters destined to transform from naïve and inexperienced children into great artists with the help of their experiences and the people they encounter along the way.The father figures of Lily and Stephen are both very influential to their children, although neither of them is seen in a positive light by their offspring. The major connection between the two fathers is their obsession with the past and inability to move beyond into a more positive existence. Although Lily's father is more prone to physically display his displeasure with her and the "lies" she is always concocting, Stephen's father degrades Stephen just as much verbally and emotionally. Lily looks outside of herself for a solution to her T. Ray problem: "I had asked God repeatedly to do something about T. Ray. He'd gone to church for forty years and he was only getting worse. It seemed like this should tell God something". (3) It is likely that Lily looks beyond herself for a solution because T. Ray is a dominating male figure she knows she is unable to conquer physically and also because for the bulk of the novel she does not understand T. Ray's anger with her. Stephen's relationship with his father is more concrete and understandable to Stephen because he knows that drinking and loss of status and money are the main causes for his displeasure with Stephen and everyone else. However, this can't make dealing with his father's mean comments any easier: "There's that son of mine there not half my age and I'm a better man than he is any day of the week". (101) Both protagonists' fathers expect impossibilities from their children, T. Ray wishing Lily didn't exist and he could have her mother back and Mr. Dedalus wishing Stephen were a carbon copy if himself at a young age, interested mostly in social gatherings and making money. With such poor fathers, it is understandable that these two characters would look elsewhere for influence and support.As the poor fathers of these two protagonists are influential to their lives and futures, so are their nurturing mother figures in a converse fashion. After running away from home with Rosaleen, Lily comes to be completely surrounded by nurturing females who help her to find herself and her calling in life. Without the experiences she has around these women, it is not likely Lily would have found out as much about her actual mother at such a young age. Late in the novel, August tells Lily: "…I want you to know, I love you. Just like I loved your mother"; (243) without this knowledge, Lily would not have bloomed into the...

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