There's No Place Like Home

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Numerous modern literary works rely on setting to ignite the plot and enhance the readability of a story. Oftentimes an author incorporates his own opinions and perspective into his literature to better portray the experiences of his characters. The interpretation and comprehension of a story is largely dependent on the inclusion of accounts from the author's own life and experiences. In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, David Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars, and Jhumpa Lahiri's Interpreter of Maladies, diaspora makes it difficult for the characters to assimilate to the new customs and moral convictions of each new environment.

In her novel, The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd uses her own childhood to mold the story of her main character, Lily. The South Carolina setting is a direct parallel of the Georgian town in which Kidd spent her youth. The racial issues that the story revolves around play a major role in the morals that both Lily and Kidd adopt. The 1960's story is mainly occupied by underlying themes of racism and feminism typical of that time period. This novel in particular seems especially reliant on the setting to drive the plot. Without Rosaleen's initial encounter with the "superior" white men to catalyze the novel, Lily's opportune relocation would not be possible. The overwhelmingly religious population, the dry and dusty roads, and the endless rows of peaches could only be found in the Deep South that Kidd portrays so well. It is also interesting how Lily's own diaspora reflects the actions of the bees that she cares for. Her first real inclination to leave home is provoked by a voice in her head that, as she watches the bees crawling from captivity, tells her, "Lily Melissa Owens, your jar is open. In a matter of seconds [she] knew exactly what [she] had to do–leave" (Kidd 41). Unlike the unpleasant displacements that Lahiri's and Guterson's characters undergo, Lily's diaspora is voluntary. (Sue Monk)

David Guterson, a...
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