Whenever May Boatwright hears about something tragic in the world, she writes it down on a piece of paper and slips the paper into the cracks of a stone wall near her house. It’s clear that the stone wall symbolizes the slow, sad accumulation of pain in May’s mind, and indeed the potential for suffering to build up in anyone’s psychology. Since most of the tragedies May responds to are race-related (the imprisonment of Zach, for example), the stone wall also takes on a more specific symbolic meaning: it stands for the horrors of the African-American experience in America.
The Secret Life of Bees
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The timeline below shows where the symbol The Stone Wall appears in The Secret Life of Bees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
...news about Zach. Nobody tells May what’s happened, for fear that she’ll go to the stone wall again. Unfortunately, she answers a phone call from Zach’s mother, and learns about Zach’s imprisonment.... (full context)