The Spiritual Growth Of Lily Owens In The Secret Life Of Bees

2235 words - 9 pages

The Secret Life of Bees delineates an inspirational story in which the community, friendship and faith guide the human spirit to overcome anything. The story follows Lily Owens, a 14 year old girl who desperately wants to discover the cause of her mothers death. Her father T. Ray gives her no answers, which leads their maid, Rosaleen, to act as her guardian. Together, Lily and Rosaleen run away to Tiburon, South Carolina and find a welcoming community. It is in Tiburon that Lily learns many life lessons, including many about herself. In her novel The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd explores a theme of spiritual growth through Lily's search for home as well as a maternal figure.
The bees symbolize Lily’s unspoken guides throughout the novel. Kidd’s constant reference to the bees indicate that Lily eventually understands the importance of female power in the bee community, which she connects to her own life. When Lily initially sees the bees in her room, Rosaleen warns her that they can sting her if she tries to catch them, but Lily ignores her and continues to trap them, thus asserting her determination. Later, the bees reveal the message to Lily that she should leave her father. Kidd notes that one bee landed on Lily’s state map that she kept tacked on the wall, foreshadowing Lily and Rosaleen’s journey to Tiburon (10). The bees also symbolize the secret life that Lily lives as she hides her secret of running away from home. The hive represents society while the bees represent all of the humans inside. August tells Lily about the hives and announces, “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” (Kidd 148). The beehive cannot survive without the mother of thousands, or the queen bee. Although not all realize it, all of the bees work together to make sure that the queen bee will survive. This concept leads Lily to believe that the Virgin Mary is in many ways her mother, even though she is a mother to thousands of other people as well (Emanuel 41). Lily receives support and love from August and the community like the bees, though it is a secret to the rest of the world. The bees act as pathfinders for Lily as she learns more about herself, along with Zach
Sue Monk Kidd utilizes the character Zach to assist Lily in understanding the power of her choices. Zach reveals the power of choices that each individual can make. Before coming to Tiburon, Lily assumed that all African-Americans worked as housekeepers and she had certainly never heard of a black lawyer. She then meets Zach who wants to pursue a career as a lawyer and August who chooses to work as a beekeeper. Zach wants to break free of social mores and become an attorney (Harken 57). Zach’s imagination as he works toward achieving his dreams inspires Lily to think in a way that she has never thought of before. In Lily’s story she depicts Zach as the lawyer that he has always dreamed of being....

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