Lily's Fulfillment Of The "Heroic Journey" In Secret Life Of The Bees

3633 words - 15 pages

The classic tale of the hero's journey can be recognized in almost every situation. It is not only apparent through daily life and historical events, but in this circumstance, a fictional novel, as well. As an epic voyage, it can be recognized in the vast majority of books throughout the course of history. One specific example where it is carefully and intricately exhibited is in Sue Monk Kidd's novel, The Secret Life of Bees, in which a young woman's search for acceptance and the truth becomes a heart-warming chronicle. Through the obstacles and people she meets, Lily is able to experience the trials and self-fulfilling incidents that are required in the hero's journey she partakes in.In the first step of the monomyth, the call to adventure, Lily has had a life, up to this point, of pain and suffering for she has grown up with the implication that she shot her mother. Additionally, her father, T. Ray constantly abused her by making her work for him while ignoring her very existence. Lily was thoroughly deprived of her childhood, as well as her innocence, for her father's complete indignation towards her only compounded the situation. She begins to realize that in order for her to break free of the oppressive life she has and realize her potential, she must leave, in search of the answer to the question that has always haunted her: who was her mother, and what really happened to her? "Lily Melissa Owens, your jar is open...In a matter of seconds I knew exactly what to do- leave" (Kidd 41). Lily knows T. Ray is an abusive father, and that she will never be able to ascertain who she or her mother is without making her journey. This is represented by the archetype of quest for self, ultimately Lily's main mission throughout the book, through exploration of the Jungian collective unconscious of her mother, she consequently finds the answers she is looking for.In the second step of the monomyth, the refusal of the call, Lily is on the precipice of departure and abandonment of T. Ray, when she momentarily hesitates. This is the man who made the first 14 years of her life a hellish torture, and yet she is reluctant to separate from him. "...And stood a moment in the center of the room, wondering if I'd ever see it again. 'Goodbye,' I said, and there was a tiny sprig of sadness pushing up from my heart" (Kidd 42). Implicitly, she knows that a part of her will die when she leaves his house, for she will be crossing the threshold between oppression and self- determination and reliance. She recognizes that her entire life is contained in that house, and when she leaves, she is abandoning not only her father, but also the life she once had. Lily knows she probably will never see her home again, and thus she is melancholy with the conflict this represents. This is epitomized by the archetype of the innocent child. While she tries to depart and subsequently make a decision for herself, the weight of that choice becomes apparent to Lily. She is merely a child;...

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