Racism in The Secret Life of Bees

Topics: The Secret Life of Bees, Secret Life, Race Pages: 2 (663 words) Published: February 25, 2014


Racism in The Secret Life of Bees

Racism was a way of life in the South during the time frame of The Secret Life of Bees. At many times in the novel the reader is shown how racism affects each character in the novel. Racism is shown through Rosaleen and Lily’s arrest, Lily and Zach’s love affair, and also June’s dislike towards Lily. Many characters in the novel come to experience racism or discrimination directly.

Very early in the novel, Rosaleen gets into trouble with some men, and the events that take place influence the entire novel. While Lily and Rosaleen were walking a few white men make racial remarks towards Rosaleen. Rosaleen, being the stand up, independent woman that she is, calmly poured her spit juice in their shoes. The men demanded an apology, but her pride would not allow her to do so. In response to Rosaleen’s refusal, the men beat her to the point of hospitalization. Even in front of the police officer that came to bring in the girls in, the men slashed Rosaleen’s head open. Not only did he let the man hurt Rosaleen, but he didn’t punish him in any way. What she did was wrong but the beating that she received for it was not necessary, nor was it necessary for her to be thrown into jail. It was very obvious that the reason that Rosaleen was taken into custody was because she was black. Lily was so naïve; she thought that just because a police was with them, nothing bad could happen. This was the first time Lily had witnessed racism and the cruelty and harsh effects that came along with it. Also, T.Ray got Lily out of jail but left Rosaleen to fend for herself. The very fact that he didn’t get the woman who practically raised her out of jail angered her to the point of standing up to T.Ray, which is near suicide. The events that unraveled were very significant and were an eye opener for innocent Lily. She knew racism was real, but she never thought it would ever affect her or her beloved Rosaleen.

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