Rosaleen is a proud, middle-aged woman who works as a maid for T. Ray and Lily Owens in Sylvan, South Carolina. Shortly after Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, Rosaleen goes into town to register to vote, setting in motion the events of the novel. Rosaleen is an extremely strong, confident woman, and her refusal to “back down” when confronted by racist whites causes her to go to jail, and eventually run away from Sylvan with Lily. Lily is extremely close with Rosaleen: in the absence of a mother, she regards Rosaleen as a maternal figure. Critics have pointed out that Rosaleen recedes from view in the second half of The Secret Life of Bees—while she’s present for most of the key events in these chapters, it’s hard to think of a single thing she does. Nevertheless, Rosaleen is an important influence on Lily in the novel: when Lily doubts herself, or feels afraid, she can always turn to Rosaleen for love and support.