Mark Twain, a great American author, once said, “Write what you know.” Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees is a prime example of Mark Twain’s quote. As many great authors do, she found ways to channel herself and her many childhood memories into her writing. She tells readers of her many odd habits—ranging from curling hair in juice cans to listening to bees at night—through the eyes of the main character, Lily. Lily’s many ambitions and outlandish experiences growing up as a southern girl parallel Kidd’s own life (Kidd, “The Secret Life of Bees”). The various vivid details that Kidd remembered about her childhood greatly helped build the foundation for novel and its characters. Her childhood memories and ambitions, experiences with bees, and the social climate of the south left an imprint on Sue Monk Kidd, as evident in the coming-of-age novel The Secret Life of Bees.
Kidd’s childhood memories and ambitions had an important influence on her novel, The Secret Life of Bees. Lily and Kidd had many minute similarities, but they are the most notable portions of their childhood; they are all things that one would remember long after growing up. Both girls had nannies, curled their hair with grape juice cans, grew up in the south, and absolutely refused to eat grits.
Lily came to despise grits because of the “…powdered-glass feeling…” that she felt when T. Ray, her father, made her kneel on them as punishment (Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees 24). In another portion of the book, Kidd writes, “…all year I’d had to roll it on Welch’s grape juice cans…” as Lily (The Secret Life of Bees 3). In reality, both events occurred in the novel because the author was reminiscing about her childhood through the eyes of her main character. The small, quirky things seem to be the easiest to recall; however, there are many other, more common similarities between Lily and Kidd.
Both Lily and Kidd wanted to pursue similar things in life, like attending charm school and becoming a writer. Writing as Lily, but relating to herself, Kidd writes, “I thought my real chance would come from going to charm school…” (The Secret Life of Bees 9) and “…I planned to be a professor and a writer of actual books” (The Secret Life of Bees 6). The people in Kidd’s life, such as English teachers, encouraged her to become a writer. Kidd portrays this by writing about how Lily’s English teacher encouraged her to write, directly relating Lily’s life to her own. Her English teacher’s encouragement included her saying, “’Please, Lily, you are insulting your fine intelligence. Do you have any idea how smart you are? You could be a professor or a writer with actual books to your credit. Beauty school. Please’” (Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees 16). Also, Lily’s friend Zach encouraged Lily to follow her dreams and pursue her passions. “Zach showed up with the prettiest notebook---green with rosebuds on the cover” is written to show him encouraging her to do what she loved (Kidd, The Secret...