Finding Her Queen
"New beekeepers are told that the way to find the elusive queen is by first locating her circle of attendants." (57) This quote is at the beginning of chapter three and not only foreshadows many things to come, but within the quote, two of the novel’s main metaphors are mentioned, bees and the queen, which is referring to society and a mother figure. Although this quote is largely interpreted as a metaphor for Lily looking for a new queen or mother figure, and perhaps August being that mother, I believe that it has another meaning as well. I believe that the Black Madonna also serves as a “queen” and mother figure to all the women in “The Secret Life of Bees.” Chapter three begins with Lily waking up feeling as if she has spent the night next to Thoreau's Walden Pond. While waiting for Rosaleen to wake up, Lily looks at the picture of the black Virgin Mary that was her mother’s. We learn that Lily doesn’t know much about Catholicism, because “According to Brother Gerald, hell was nothing but a bonfire for Catholics.” (58.) After awhile, Lily decides to wake Rosaleen. Rosaleen tells her she had a dream about Martin Luther King Jr., painting her toenails with his spit. As they walk into town, Rosaleen tells Lily that no motel is going to let a colored woman stay there, even though the Civil Rights Act has been passed. Lily shows that she is still naïve about racism, wondering what the Civil Rights Amendment was all about if Rosaleen can’t stay in a motel now. As they continue to walk, Lily is looking for a divine sign to tell her what to do when they come across Frogmore Stew General Store and Restaurant. Lily goes inside to buy lunch and steals a can of snuff for Rosaleen, since the store is only allowed to sell restaurant food on Sundays. While inside, she sees a jar of honey that has the exact same picture of the black Virgin Mary on it as her mother’s picture. She asks the shopkeeper who made the honey and finds out...
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