The Secret Life of Bees

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)

Zachary Taylor / Zach Character Analysis

A handsome, intelligent teenager who works for the Boatwrights. Zach is ambitious, and he plans to become a successful lawyer one day (even though he’s black, and so has many more obstacles to face in achieving this goal). He wants to use his legal training to fight racism in the U.S. During the course of the book, Zach and Lily fall for one another, though as Zach explains, they can’t be boyfriend and girlfriend yet, for fear that they’ll be attacked by the racist townspeople.

Zachary Taylor / Zach Quotes in The Secret Life of Bees

The The Secret Life of Bees quotes below are all either spoken by Zachary Taylor / Zach or refer to Zachary Taylor / Zach . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Books edition of The Secret Life of Bees published in 2003.
Chapter 7 Quotes

At my school they made fun of colored people’s lips and noses. I myself had laughed at these jokes, hoping to fit in. Now I wished I could pen a letter to my school to be read at an opening assembly that would tell them how wrong we’d all been. You should see Zachary Taylor, I’d say.

Related Characters: Lily Owens (speaker), Zachary Taylor / Zach
Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:

As the passage makes clear, Lily grew up mocking black people as inferior. It was common for the white students at Lily's school to make insensitive jokes about blacks--and Lily herself joined in. Now, having met a beautiful black boy, Zachary, Lily sees how wrong she was to joke about black people.

The passage makes an important point about how racism is perpetuated over time. Lily doesn't particularly dislike black people, but she joins in her friends to "fit in." For all Lily knows, nobody at her school genuinely hates black people--rather, the general "peer pressure" of racism sweeps Lily and her friends along. In addition, the passage suggests that the ultimate antidote to racism is education and experience. White people continue thinking of black people as inferior, it's implied, partly because they're ignorant of black people's lives. All it takes for Lily to renounce her racial insensitivity is to meet one black boy her own age--a testament to the isolation of prejudice.

At the same time, this is a rather oversimplified view of racism. Kidd only deals with prejudice on the individual level, and so her "lesson" that white racism could be overcome by white people just meeting more black people (and beautiful black people in particular—it's suggested that it's mostly Lily's attraction to Zachary that humanizes him for her) certainly doesn't deal with other larger, more structural incarnations of bigotry and oppression.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Secret Life of Bees quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!

“Lily, I like you better than any girl I’ve ever known, but you have to understand, there are people who would kill boys like me for even looking at girls like you.”

Related Characters: Zachary Taylor / Zach (speaker), Lily Owens
Page Number: 135
Explanation and Analysis:

In this quotation, Zachary Taylor, the handsome black youth on whom Lily has developed a big crush, tells Lily that he's attracted to her, but can't give in to his feelings. The reason Zachary can't date Lily is that he'd be risking his life: the "color line" is so severely enforced in the South that a black boy could easily be murdered for dating a white woman. (Zachary may be alluding to Emmett Till, the black 14-year-old who was infamously lynched for allegedly whistling at a white woman.)

Zachary is far more aware of the realities of race in the South than Lily is (because Lily doesn't have to be, and Zach does). From Lily's perspective, the only thing that matters is that she and Zachary like each other--but Zach knows better. It's highly unfair that Lily and Zach must wait to date one another, but they have little to no choice in the matter. The fact that Zachary wants to wait (even at the end of the novel) reflects the fact that the fight for black equality is far from over: even after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, there's an enormous amount of work left to do.

Chapter 9 Quotes

Outside, the night sky was moving over us. I was aware of it, aware of the way Clayton had said he seemed all right, as if we all understood he wasn’t but would pretend otherwise. August closed her eyes, used her fingers to smooth out the skin on her forehead. I saw a shiny film on her eyes—the beginning of tears. Looking at her eyes, I could see a fire inside them.

Related Characters: Lily Owens (speaker), August Boatwright , Zachary Taylor / Zach , Clayton Forrest
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

In this chapter, Zachary Taylor is wrongfully arrested for supposedly fighting with a group of racist whites. August and Lily learn that Zach will be forced to spend the next five nights in jail--something that August finds infuriating.

The passage reminds us of the outrageous bigotry that the African American community faced in the 1960s. Although blacks had some legal protections, these protections were poorly enforced, with the result that teenagers like Zach could be sentenced to nearly a week in jail (or worse) for essentially no reason at all. Furthermore, the passage depicts August at her strongest and most maternal. Although August has no biological connection to Zach, she considers Zach her "family"--they've known one another for many years, and she cares about him deeply. August is a "mother" to many, like the Virgin Mary herself, and she clearly considers Zach to be one of her "children"—just as she does Lily.

Get the entire Secret Life LitChart as a printable PDF.
The secret life of bees.pdf.medium

Zachary Taylor / Zach Character Timeline in The Secret Life of Bees

The timeline below shows where the character Zachary Taylor / Zach appears in The Secret Life of Bees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...her a huge bee farm. August tells Lily that her usual assistant, a teenager named Zach, is on vacation. When Zach returns, August, Lily, and Zach will work together to make... (full context)
Chapter 7
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
It’s July 13, and Zach, August’s assistant, has returned from his vacation. He introduces himself to Lily as Zachary Taylor.... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
Because August is checking on hives at another farm, Zach and Lily proceed with making honey. Zach tells Lily about his love for Miles Davis,... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Lily, August, and Zach soon settle into a routine. They spend the day extracting and mixing honey: catching beeswax,... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
August sends Zach and Lily out to harvest some beehives. Zach drives a honey cart along the road... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
After their near-kiss, Zach and Lily drive the honey wagon back to the house. During the ride, Zach points... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lily and Zach return to the Boatwright house, where she finds that Rosaleen is moving from the honey... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lily can’t stop thinking about Zach. That night, she can’t fall asleep—partly because she’s alone for the first time, and partly... (full context)
Chapter 8
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
August and Lily go out to inspect the hives (just as Lily and Zach did a few weeks before). Out on the bee farm, August tells Lily to close... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
...that she hasn’t put any paper in the stone wall for the last five days. Zach joins the meal. He announces that he’s heard some exciting news: the movie star Jack... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Zach and Lily walk down Main Street toward the house of a prominent attorney named Clayton... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mr. Forrest emerges from his office and invites Lily and Zach inside. He introduces himself to Lily, and tells her that August is a good friend... (full context)
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Zach and Forrest emerge from Forrest’s office. Zach is carrying a heavy legal book, which Forrest... (full context)
Chapter 9
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
...goes to talk to August about Deborah. As she’s about to walk into the house, Zach calls her—apparently, August is in the house talking with customers. To pass the time, Zach... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lily watches as Zach crosses the street to go to the store. He greets a trio of his friends,... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lily watches as the police arrest Zach and his friends. Horrified, Lily runs back to the Boatwright house (Zach had the keys... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
...jailhouse, along with August. August tells the jailer, a man named Eddie Hazelwurst, that she’s Zach’s godmother. He allows August and Lily to see Zach for five minutes. In his cell,... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
For the next few days, the Boatwright house is desperate for any news about Zach. Nobody tells May what’s happened, for fear that she’ll go to the stone wall again.... (full context)
Chapter 10
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
The next morning, Zach comes home—he’s been released from jail because a witness convinced the police that he hadn’t... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
August takes Zach and Lily to “drape the hives”—cover them with a veil in honor to May. The... (full context)
Chapter 11
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
...the Boatwright house all the time, and June and Neil go for car rides together. Zach visits, and on one visit Lily asks him if they’d be dating if she were... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
...hat for the festivities. Lily accepts, on the condition that it’s blue. In the evening, Zach and the Daughters arrive at the house, and everyone celebrates Mary Day together. They eat... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
In the late evening, Zach and Lily take a walk outside. They walk by a stream, and Lily thinks about... (full context)
Chapter 13
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
...second day of the Assumption celebration. At the Daughters’ potluck, Lily asks August to tell Zach about Deborah as soon as she can—August agrees. For the rest of the afternoon, everyone... (full context)
Chapter 14
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Lily calls Zach. Zach tells her that August has told him about Lily’s past, and he says he’s... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...she can lend the pin to Becca. Lily goes to the local high school with Zach and Becca. Although she’s unpopular for spending so much time with a black boy, she... (full context)