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"The Secret Life Of Bees" By Sue Monk Kidd

1372 words - 5 pages

In The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd makes this evident through her protagonist, Lily Owens. Lily grows up in South Carolina during the 1960s, a time known for mass prejudice and the Civil Rights Movement. After the death of her mother, Lily is raised by her father T. Ray, and caretaker Rosaleen. Lily becomes drawn to Rosaleen and later decides to run away from home in an attempt to find truth and meaning about her mother. While on her journey, Lily meets June Boatwright, August Boatwright, and Zachary Taylor, three people who are quick to change her perception of life. June immediately teaches Lily that intolerance can go more than one way. Meanwhile, August keenly accepts Lily and educates her on some lifelong lessons. Zach is a young boy Lily meets while she resides at the Boatwright home. Lily quickly befriends Zach and realizes that because of the color of her skin, life is a lot easier for her than it is for others. While on a mission to comprehend her life and her past, June, August, and Zach help Lily change her concealed views regarding prejudice within and all around her.June shows Lily that there are two ways to intolerance. After moving into the Boatwright residence, Lily overhears a conversation with June and her sisters. June's sisters are willing to accept Lily into their home, but June insists that Lily cannot be trusted because she is white. In Lily's eyes, "This was a great revelation - not that [she] was white but that it seemed like June might not want [her] here because of [her] skin color. [Lily] hadn't known this was possible - to reject people for being white" (Kidd 87). Growing up in the 1960s, Lily is used to seeing discrimination from the whites towards the blacks. Because many black people do not have the courage to stand up to their white suppressors, it is rare for Lily to hear and be in the midst of such a proclamation. June shows Lily that such actions are possible, and Lily is quick to change her views on the general public. Furthermore, as the members of the Boatwright family are doing a ritual and touching a statue of Mary's heart, Lily feels as if she has the right to touch the statue as well, but she says, "I walked toward black Mary with my hand lifted. But just as I was about to reach her, June stopped playing. She stopped right in the middle of the song and I was left in the silence with my hand stretched out" (111). June does just about anything possible to let Lily know that she is not wanted by certain people in the family, even to the point of embarrassing her. For the first time, Lily comes to the realization that she is an outsider in the midst of black people. June indirectly tells Lily that she has no right to touch the statue because she is neither black nor part of the family. June changes Lily's views regarding discrimination by showing her that prejudice can go both ways; blacks can hate whites as much as whites hate blacks.August Boatwright willingly accepts Lily and teaches her some...

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