Racism: Then and Now.
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a book discussing the internal strife of a young white girl, in a very racist 1960’s south. The main character, Lily Owens, faces many problems she must overcome, including her personal dilemma of killing her own mother in an accident. Sue Monk Kidd accurately displays the irrationality of racism in the South during mid- 1960's not only by using beautiful language, but very thoroughly developed plot and character development. Kidd shows the irrationality of racism through the characters in her book, The Secret Life of Bees and shows that even during that time period, some unique people, were able to see beyond the heavy curtain of racism that separated people from each other.
The Secret Life of Bees was published in 2002, about 40 years after Martin Lither King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream Speech”. By this, Kidd hint as the present day racism that is hidden and shows that despite the many social movements taken to eliminate racism, it still exists.
Sue Monk Kidd shows the irrationality of racism, by having black and white people being the prominent characters of her book and showing the forbidden love between the two races, via Zach and Lily. Kidd also shows the views of others on racism by having 3rd-party characters comment on Lily staying with black women by the receptionist at the lawyer’s office and the police officer. Lily faced much internal struggle, and overcoming her own sense of racism and stereotypes. Her stereotypes classify all black people as being dumb and thick-minded, and not thoughtful and clever like August Boatwright, the woman whose house Lily is staying at. Lily is exposed to many types of black people who are unlike the people she stereotyped them as, and is shocked by the many different emotions. She battles the shock she experiences by falling in love with a black boy, because common stereotypes show that young black men could not, in any way be attractive.
Lily shows her non-racist side in the very beginning of the book, after Rosaleen has been put in jail for spitting on a very racist white man’s shoe. She willingly sneaks into jail and attempts to free Rosaleen, but gets sent home with the racist and mean father, T. Ray. She once again tries to free Rosaleen, and this time sneaks into a hospital to free her. Lily is successful this time, and runs away with Rosaleen.
Many quotes from the Secret Life of Bees express the views of different characters on racism. ” She was black as could be, twisted like driftwood from being out in the weather, her face a map of all the storms and journeys she’d been through. Her right arm was raised as if she was pointing the way, except her fingers were closed in a fist. It gave her a serious look, like she could straighten you out if necessary.” In this quote, Lily describes the Black Virgin Mary, the lord of the Sisters of Mary, and later learns the significance of this statue, which is to look within yourself to...