The Secret Life of Bees

June Boatwright Character Analysis

The sister of May, August, and April Boatwright. Like August, June is an intelligent, educated woman, but where August welcomes Lily into their home with open arms, June is suspicious and contemptuous of Lily—partly because Lily is white, and she is black. During the novel, June refuses marriage to Neil several times before accepting. In the end, June comes to accept Lily as her friend, and apologizes for her rudeness.

June Boatwright Quotes in The Secret Life of Bees

The The Secret Life of Bees quotes below are all either spoken by June Boatwright or refer to June Boatwright. 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 11 Quotes

“I’m sorry for being so hard on you when you first got here…”

Related Characters: June Boatwright (speaker), Lily Owens
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:

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June Boatwright Character Timeline in The Secret Life of Bees

The timeline below shows where the character June Boatwright 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
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
...hesitation, Lily and Rosaleen decide to approach the house. At the door, a woman named June Boatwright (August’s sister) greets them and invites them in. Inside, Lily and Rosaleen meet May... (full context)
Chapter 5
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...May, who’s very simpleminded. She spends much of her time catching spiders and eating bananas. June teaches English in a local black high school. One night, Lily overhears June and August... (full context)
Chapter 6
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...Boatwrights who the man is. They explain that it’s Neil, a man who’s “sweet on June.” June likes Neil, but refuses to marry him. Lily realizes, for the first time, how... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
June and Neil walk inside, and June asks what’s upset May. Impulsively Lily answers that May’s... (full context)
Chapter 7
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
...mixing honey: catching beeswax, filtering pollen, etc. In the evenings, Lily makes awkward conversation with June, who, she knows, doesn’t like her at all. Lily’s favorite time of day is her... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
It’s been two weeks since Lily arrived with Rosaleen. One day, June approaches Lily and asks her how much longer she’s going to stay. Lily lies and... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
One night, Neil comes to the Boatwrights’ house and has a hushed conversation with June. Lily eavesdrops on the conversation, and overhears Neil saying he’s not going to “wait forever.”... (full context)
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
...hear a fight on the other side of the house. Lily sees Neil arguing with June: he tells her she’s a “selfish bitch” and storms off. June yells, “Don’t ever come... (full context)
Chapter 8
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
August continues to tell Lily about her life. She and June studied at a teachers’ college in Maryland, but they never got teaching jobs. August then... (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
In the afternoon, Lily and August return to the house for a late lunch. June and May are preparing a delicious feast, and May proudly claims that she hasn’t put... (full context)
Chapter 10
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lily sits in the kitchen with August, June, and Rosaleen while May goes to the stone wall. May doesn’t return for a very... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...The stone weighs down her body, preventing her from breathing or floating to the surface. June and August rush into the water and try to lift the stone off May’s body,... (full context)
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...left a suicide note underneath an oak tree. In the note addressed to August and June, May apologizes for leaving, but says that she’ll be with their family very soon. She... (full context)
Chapter 11
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
After May is buried, August stops making honey, and she and June eat their meals alone in their rooms. Lily feels a strong need to talk to... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Neil now comes to the Boatwright house all the time, and June and Neil go for car rides together. Zach visits, and on one visit Lily asks... (full context)
The next morning, Lily wakes up and goes downstairs, where June tells her that today is August 15—the Feast of Assumption (a Catholic holiday celebrating the... (full context)
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
There’s a knock on the door—it’s Neil. June asks Neil what he’s doing here: she can tell that he’s feeling nervous. Neil says... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
The rest of the Boatwright house proceeds with work for Mary Day, overjoyed by June’s good news. Lily makes garlands all day, and the Boatwrights offer to make Lily a... (full context)
Chapter 12
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
August comforts Lily, telling her that everyone loves her—even June, who resented Deborah. Confused, Lily asks August what she means. August explains that June, who... (full context)
Chapter 14
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
June sets a date for her wedding: October 10. It occurs to Lily that she needs... (full context)