The Secret Life of Bees - Critical Essay

Powerful Essays
Kathy Holcomb
Prof. Robert Weber
English 112
April 14, 2009
The Secret Life of Bees Critical Essay Sue Monk Kidd has carefully crafted a book rich in symbolism with special emphasis on bees. Each section’s heading features the inner workings of this communal society (Emanuel, Catherine, B. 3). An epigraph at the beginning relating to bees sets the tone for the each chapter. The first chapter epigraph states: The Queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness.” Man and Insects.
The Queen bee is the novel’s symbol of a mother figure and is used throughout Lily’s journey for identity and the conflicts she faces in resolving her “motherlessness” or “queenlessness.”
Here we find Lily, an emotionally lost little girl who longs for a mother’s love. Her life has been dramatically affected by her mother’s absence. The fact that her mother died when she was four and the circumstances surrounding her mother’s death has left her in need of emotional healing. However, she isn’t afforded the opportunity as her father, T Ray, is angry and abusive and simply not there for her emotionally. She suffers from flashbacks of her mother’s death and feels she is somehow responsible. It is not just the mother's absence that haunts Lily as she grows up; it is the fuzzy memory of the circumstances of her mother's death that makes Lily secretly wonder if she is forgivable, lovable, good. (Kephart p 61). Lily is like a bee without a queen and is discontented and unhappy. The bees that visit Lily at night cause her to long for freedom and during the day she hears them in the walls of her bedroom and “imagined them in there turning the walls into honeycombs, with honey seeping out for me to taste.” (Monk Kidd 12). Honey is the only natural food made without destroying any form of life. Honey is also the



Cited: Emanual, Catherine B. The Archetypal, Mother: The Black Madonna in Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees. West Virginia University Philological Papers. (Fall 2005). Monk Kidd, Sue. The Secret Life of Bees. Blakely Merall, Melissa. What is a Blessed Bee? Web. 14 April 2009. Brown, Rosellen. Honey Child. The Women’s Review of Books. April 2009. Kephart, Beth. Book. Literature Resource Center. January February 2002

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Good Essays

    Hannah Boyer Mr. O’Mara English IV; Period B 8/25/08 The Secret Life of Bees Bees, honey, the Black Madonna, the 1960’s, the power of women, what do all of these things have in common? All of these things are what one would think of when reading the book, The Secret Life of Bees. Those who have read The Secret Life of Bees know that it is not a book about different kinds of bees and how bees live their lives, but it is a book about a poorly treated girl named Lily who runs away from…

    • 808 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Secret Life Of Bees Essay

    • 597 Words
    • 3 Pages

    The Secret Life of Bees should be included in the high school curriculum because it educates students on different cultural aspects that are still prevalent in America’s 21st century. Every culture has its own significant history and The Secret Life of Bees highlights one of the most influential time periods in African American history. This allows students to analyze the presence of racial discrimination between the inferior African American population and the superior White community during the…

    • 597 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Secret Life of Bees

    • 3403 Words
    • 14 Pages

    full title · The Secret Life of Bees author · Sue Monk Kidd type of work · Novel genre · Bildungsroman (coming-of-age novel) language · English time and place written · 1997–2001, near Charleston, South Carolina date of first publication · 2002 publisher · Viking Penguin narrator · Fourteen-year-old Lily narrates the novel in retrospect, from the house where she now lives with the Boatwright sisters. point of view · Lily narrates the novel in the first-person, describing the events she experiences…

    • 3403 Words
    • 14 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    The Secret Life of Bees

    • 447 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The Secret Life of Bees Essay “A queen less colony is a pitiful and melancholy community; there may be a mournful wail or lament from within… without intervention the colony will die. But introduce a new queen and the most extravagant change takes place.” - The Queen Must Die: And Other Affairs of Bees and Men. Sue Monk Kidd writes a powerful story about a young girl who finds herself living with African-American sisters after running away from her unloving father. In The Secret Life of Bees Sue…

    • 447 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    reality of appearances can deceive people and trick them into thinking that the best people are the worst, and the worst people are the best. In mind with that; reality of people versus their appearances shows greatly throughout the story The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. When the reader deciphers the question of appearances versus realities, they can see the differences between the reality of the characters, and the way that the characters appearances are portrayed by the townspeople in Kidd's…

    • 601 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    Secret Life of Bees

    • 548 Words
    • 3 Pages

    The Mysterious Way Bees Live Bees relate and foreshadow many things that happen in this story. For example, at the beginning of the novel, when Lily catches a bee in a jar and opens for it to leave shows that Lily should leave too. She realizes she has to save Rosaleen and escape from her abusive father, T. Ray. The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, is a novel that possesses a strong symbol of bees and how they can relate to human life. When August said “Well if you have a queen…

    • 548 Words
    • 3 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Better Essays

    Secret life of bees

    • 1583 Words
    • 7 Pages

    English 102 12/10/13 Secret Life of Bees In 1964, Lily Owens is fourteen years old. She has no mother, a father whom she despises, and no friends to turn to when she needs a shoulder to cry on. Not only does Lily have to deal with feelings of loneliness and betrayal caused by her parents, but in a time troubled by negativity towards the Civil Rights Act, she is also faced with situations that force her to grow up very fast. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a page turning novel…

    • 1583 Words
    • 7 Pages
    Better Essays
  • Satisfactory Essays

    Secret Life of Bees

    • 466 Words
    • 2 Pages

    DeAndré Morgan March 8, 2012 English Secret Life of Bees Essay The Secret Life of Bees takes place in 1964. During that time period there were a lot of racial issues and this book portrays some of these incidents very well. The prejudice in this book changed some of the characters forever. The first prejudice incident that occurred was to Rosaleen. She was a strong opinionated black woman. Since the Civil Rights Act was passed she wanted to go vote and finally have a voice. On her way…

    • 466 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Satisfactory Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Secret Life of Bees In Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees there is a psychological allegory present, which is proven by the characters in the story. The psychological allegory is based on the theory by Sigmund Freud, this theory states that in the human brain there is three major psychological portions, the id, the ego, and the super ego. The id is the portion that induces selfishness and hatred and other “bad” actions, the super ego is the opposite of the id, putting others…

    • 1207 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Good Essays
  • Good Essays

    The Secret Life of Bees

    • 467 Words
    • 2 Pages

    The Secret Life of Bees Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, The Secret Life of Bees, is greatly influenced by her own personal childhood growing up in a small town known as Sylvester, Georgia. Her environment of life growing up carried much impact on the contents and controversies played throughout her novel. As Sue Monk claims, “My job is to imagine deeply, not recount my history.” She powerfully reveals inspiring divine female power in her famous novel The Secret Life of Bees. Sue Monk Kidd grew up in…

    • 467 Words
    • 2 Pages
    Good Essays