Secret Life of Bees

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Susan Monk Kidd’s main emphasis in her writings is women who take self-discovery journeys. These journeys take place after removing themselves from “problematic” relationships with men. Throughout Kidd’s novels, the female characters discover secrets about loved ones and become more familiar with themselves, (“Sue Monk Kidd”). The Secret Life of Bees started off as a short story written after Kidd went back to college. It was published in the University of Tulsa’s Nimrod International Journal of Prose and Poetry. The short stories received awards like the Katherine Anne Porter Prize and were in the 1994 edition of Best American Short Stories, (“Sue Monk Kidd”). “The short story’s success prompted Kidd to expand the work into her first novel. The Secret Life of Bees became a bestseller and won the SEBA Book of the Year Award and the Southeastern Library Association Fiction Award; it was nominated for an international IMPAC Dublin Literary Award as well as the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction,” (“Sue Monk Kidd”). Using the theme of feminine quest for self identity is important to Kidd. In The Secret Life of Bees, Kidd gives Lily Owens, the main character, four mothers, when really; Lily is only looking for one mother. August, June, and May Boatwright along with Rosaleen all act as her mother. This is important because it helps Lily grow into a woman. In one of her most popular novels, The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd uses characterization, symbolism, and racial tensions of the time to reveal Lily’s quest of self-identity. Lily Owens travels and endures a quest for self identity throughout the novel and embraces many hardships in her life. “This search takes psychological and archetypal turns as Lily confronts her own implication in her biological mother’s death. Her own link to the mother, she never really knew, is a picture of a Black Madonna with a South Carolina town printed beneath it. Kidd ties all the frayed strands of past to present...
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