The Secret Life of Bees: Lily's Understanding of Race

Topics: White people, African American, Race and Ethnicity Pages: 2 (729 words) Published: February 24, 2013
Lily’s Development: Understanding Race
Many times throughout a person’s life their opinions are always changing; as we grow and develop our ideas, our beliefs mature as well. As a child someone could say their favorite TV show is Arthur then when they get older it could be CSI. In The Secret Life of Bees Lily’s understanding of race is changing throughout the whole book. At first she sees race as a political issue. Then, toward the middle of the book she notices that African-Americans are not the only ones hurt by racism. Lastly, at the end of the book Lily does not even mind what someone’s race is and just is unconcerned with race.

At the beginning of the book Lily is living with T. Ray in Sylvan, South Carolina. With the new president, Sylvan was starting ignore liberal rights. When Rosaleen stands up for her rights she gets in trouble; therefore, she and Lily run away. They end up in Tiburon, South Carolina which was a place where her mother lived for a quite a bit. But on her travel there she had to find someone on the highway to drive them as close to Tiburon as possible. While trying to hitch a ride Lily noticed, “…every car on the highway sped up the second they saw us.” (Kidd 50). But a colored man offered her a ride which shows that race was a political issue then. Once she gets there she notices people are not as racist. When she goes into a store to buy some food though she sees a picture on a jar of honey just like the one her mom had. The store clerk says, “A lot of folks won’t buy it ‘cause it’s got the Virgin Mary pictured as a colored woman,…” (Kidd 64). This is just one of the many instances in which Lily sees that others do not like colored people and even though she knows that, she goes against it.

In the middle of the story, Lily has moved in with Boatwright sisters, May, June, and August; they own a honey making business, at this point she is being hurt by racism too. One day when she meets their helper, Zach, he says “August told me...
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