Lily Owens is lying in her bed watching bees squeeze in and out of cracks in her walls. She thinks about her mother, who died when Lily was a child. She also thinks about Rosaleen, a black woman who looks after her and her father, T. Ray. When the bees begin to swarm around Lily, she wakes T. Ray to show him but when he comes, the bees are gone. He threatens to make her kneel in grits if she wakes him again. Lily decides she will catch some bees in a jar to prove she was not making up the story. She starts to think about the day her mother died. She was packing hurridly when T. Ray comes home and they start fighting. Lily there was a gun, picking it up, and an explosion. Lily and T. Ray live on a peach farm. He doesn’t let her do average ‘kid’ stuff. Lily has to make her own crappy clothes and is not popular at school. Lily starts catching bees in the jar, even though Rosaleen tells her that she is not going to care if Lily comes crying to her about getting stung. Lily thinks about the time Rosaleen bought her a baby chick and argued with T. Ray to let her keep it. T. Ray gets pissed every time Lily tries to talk about her mother, but she has managed to collect some bits information. She even found a few items in the attic that belonged to her mom, which she has buried outside. T. Ray doesn’t like books. Lily thought she would go to beauty school until her teacher, Mrs. Henry, told her how smart she is. She lent Lily some of her books. T. Ray does not let Lily read when she is selling peaches. Before Lily started school T. Ray said he wanted to explain what happened to her mother. When Lily tells T. Ray that she remembers the incident, he becomes angry. He tells her that she picked up the gun. She says she remembers picking up the gun, but nothing after that. T. Ray tells her that when she picked up the gun it went off and killed Deborah. One night Lily goes outside in the orchard and lies down with her mother’s things. T. Ray catches her outside and, thinking she was with a boy, makes her kneel on grits. Rosaleen is upset the next day when she sees Lily’s battered knees. Rosaleen tells Lily that she will not be coming the following day because she is going to town. Lily begs to come with her because it’s her birthday and she wants to be out of the house. T. Ray doesn’t care about her birthday or get her any gifts. |
The next morning Rosaleen brings Lily a birthday cake, which they eat before they go into town. Rosaleen intends to register to vote because of the Civil Rights Amendment. On the way to town, Lily suggests they rest inside her church. Brother Gerald comes into the church and asks Lily why they are there. It is clear that he is not happy Rosaleen is in his church. Rosaleen asks if they can borrow the fans they are using for the rest of their walk. When Brother Gerald says no, Lily tells him Rosaleen was only kidding, but Rosaleen takes the fans anyway. When they get into town Lily they run into some white men who taunt Rosaleen about getting registered. She tells the men she stole the fans from a church, and pours the spit from her snuff jug over the tops of the men’s shoes. The men attack Rosaleen and call the police. The police arrest Rosaleen and tell Lily that they will let T. Ray deal with her. I feel sad for what Lily has had to grow up with, especially T. Ray. I think he should be arrested for Child abuse. I hate the fact that T. Ray hates books, I love books and he’s a jackass. Rosaleen shouldn’t be so bold, if a little groveling will keep you alive, you should do it. Chapter 2
The men meet Rosaleen and Lily at the police station. In They smack Rosaleen in front of Lily and the officer, who shushes Lily when she screams. T. Ray comes for Lily and races home, pissed at her. Lily says that he has do something to get Rosaleen out of jail. He says no, and that he wouldn’t be surprised if one of the men killed her. When they get home T. Ray sends...