The Secret Life of Bees and How It Is Classified Under the Southern Gothic Genre

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The Secret Life of Bees within the Southern Gothic Genre
Most southern gothic literature deals with the disturbed and flawed characters; one of the most famous writers of this genre is Edgar Allan Poe. The southern gothic genre is characterized by grotesque, gruesome, or unbelievable incidents. The southern gothic genre is portrayed in many ways. Lily, the main character, goes through many difficult life experiences and learns many tough lessons. This book does not have a happy ending like a fairy tale, but would be better represented like life, without many smooth edges. Also, because this book’s setting is in South Carolina in the nineteen-sixties, racism is involved. The Secret Life of Bees represents the southern gothic genre because it contains racism, flawed characters, and social realism.

As a part of the definition of the southern gothic genre, racism is involved within The Secret Life of Bees and is either shown as irrational or is shown through the segregation of color. Racism is used frequently because the main character associates herself with people not of her color and the people around her see this as wrong. June says, “But she’s white, August. (Kidd 87)” this shows that racism is shown using white and black references. The main character also realizes the irrationality of racism when a cop suggests, “Take my advice and call your aunt and tell her to come on and get you. These are colored people here. You understand what I’m saying?” I wrinkled up my forehead. ‘No sir I’m afraid I don’t. (Kidd 198)’” While living amongst three black women Lily becomes “color-blind” and only sees people for their personality. Southern gothic literature is defined as such, because it is mostly written during the time of the Civil Rights Movement where racism is a big part of the south.

The southern gothic genre is a subtopic of gothic genre, and those particular elements are shown through flawed characters in the literature. Flawed characters can either be...
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