Secret Life of Bees Research Paper

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Jackie Yets 3/21/11 Per. 6, English H2/SP Secret Life of Bees Research Paper

While one reads the Sue Monk Kidd novel, The Secret Life of Bees, an enigma acquainted with the book is why the Black Madonna of Breznichar in Bohemia is used as opposed to a white Virgin Mary. With the story taking place in the racist south of 1964 it would be reasonable to assume that a black Mary wouldn’t be common, or readily accepted; however she still occupies a large area of the women’s lives. For the Boatwright’s, the Daughters of Mary, and quickly for Lily and Rosaleen, the black Virgin Mary is placed in the book as a source of strength, and maternal comfort.

The most obvious symbolism of the Black Madonna of Breznichar in Bohemia is that it is featured in the novel to give the characters a religious strength. In the story of ‘Our Lady of Chains’ August tells how the statue was such an inspiration to the slaves, and how “Our Lady filled their hearts with fearlessness… And if it ever grew weak, they would only have to touch her heart again,” (109-110). ‘Our Lady of Chains’, another Divine black figure in the book besides the Madonna of Breznichar, does that same thing for all of the women. Along with ‘Our Lady’ the Bohemian Black Madonna has the same effect on the Daughters of Mary, because it showed them that “what’s divine can come in dark skin. You see, everybody needs a God who looks like them,” (141). In the real world however, there is no such thing as the Black Madonna of Breznichar in Bohemia. The historical region of Bohemia was located in the same area as modern Poland, and Poland is home to a well known Black Madonna, Our Lady of Czestochowa, who shares many similarities with the Madonna of Breznichar in Bohemia. These similarities, including features and...
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