The Secret Life of Bees

T. Ray Owens is Lily Owens’s father, a harsh, cruel man. Although T. Ray was once kinder and gentler, the sudden death of his wife, Deborah Fontanel Owens, throws him into depression and self-hatred, which he takes out on his daughter. Throughout the novel, Kidd shows T. Ray to be a petty, vindictive man, and she contrasts his small-mindedness with Lily’s constantly evolving outlook on life. In the end, Lily’s impressions of T. Ray haven’t changed greatly: she still regards him as a foolish, mean old man. Nevertheless, Lily comes to feel sorry for T. Ray for his misfortunes in life—a clear sign of her maturation.

T. Ray Owens Quotes in The Secret Life of Bees

The The Secret Life of Bees quotes below are all either spoken by T. Ray Owens or refer to T. Ray Owens. 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 1 Quotes

I used to have daydreams in which she was white and married T. Ray, and became my real mother. Other times I was a Negro orphan she found in a cornfield and adopted.

Related Characters: Lily Owens (speaker), Rosaleen, T. Ray Owens
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

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Chapter 14 Quotes

In a weird way I must have loved my little collection of hurts and wounds. They provided me with some real nice sympathy, with the feeling I was exceptional. I was the girl abandoned by her mother. I was the girl who kneeled on grits. What a special case I was.

Related Characters: Lily Owens (speaker), Deborah Fontanel Owens, T. Ray Owens
Page Number: 278
Explanation and Analysis:

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He stood over me. “Deborah,” I heard him mumble. “You’re not leaving me again.” His eyes looked frantic, scared. I wondered if I’d heard him right.

Related Characters: Lily Owens (speaker), T. Ray Owens (speaker), Deborah Fontanel Owens
Page Number: 294
Explanation and Analysis:

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Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum.

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T. Ray Owens Character Timeline in The Secret Life of Bees

The timeline below shows where the character T. Ray Owens appears in The Secret Life of Bees. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...of her own, she thinks of the narrator as her child. The narrator’s father is T. Ray —she never calls him “Daddy.” (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...in Heaven one day. She also thinks about the misery of living with her father, T. Ray —a mean, bitter man. Although he loved his wife, he hasn’t been the same since... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...a swarm of bees entering her room, and she runs to wake her father. When T. Ray surveys the narrator’s room, he finds no bees, and angrily tells the narrator—whose name, we... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...death, December 3, 1954. Her mother was walking through the house, packing a suitcase, when T. Ray walked in and began arguing with her. Lily overheard their yelling, but can’t remember what... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lily and T. Ray live in the town of Sylvan, South Carolina. Lily is an unpopular child, partly because... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
The morning after she wakes T. Ray , Lily tries to catch a bee to prove that she wasn’t lying last night.... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lily’s mother was named Deborah, she recalls. Deborah—whose name T. Ray refuses to say anymore—was born in Virginia. Growing up without a mother, Lily had to... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
...alone for long hours every day. She tries to read books during her job, but T. Ray sometimes sees her reading, and becomes so angry that she’s forced to spend her time... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lily remembers the day when she was 6, and T. Ray found her sticking a nail in his peaches. To Lily’s surprise, T. Ray didn’t punish... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lily tells T. Ray she remembers the day her mother died. Angry and surprised, T. Ray tells Lily to... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
At dinner that evening, Lily brings up her birthday to T. Ray . She tells him she’d like to have a silver bracelet as a present, but... (full context)
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
The next morning, T. Ray orders Lily to go to the peach stand and “do some work.” Lily nods, but... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...the news of the blacks in Mississippi who were murdered for registering, asks Rosaleen if T. Ray knows where she’ll be. Rosaleen replies, “T. Ray don’t know nothing.” (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...him that she’s going to walk into town with Rosaleen to “buy some sanitary supplies.” T. Ray nods, disgusted, as he assumes Lily is talking about “female puberty.” That night, Lily decides... (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
...town, as planned. They walk past the town’s Baptist Church. Lily’s knees still hurt from T. Ray ’s punishment, and so they decide to rest in the church for a moment. Inside,... (full context)
Chapter 2
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
...police officers force Lily and Rosaleen to sit in a cell. Lily is sure that T. Ray will get both of them out. After a time, Gaston tells Lily to come out—T.... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Back at home, T. Ray orders Lily not to leave her room. Quietly, Lily replies, “You don’t scare me.” T.... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
...that her mother could have been so cruel, and then it occurs to her that T. Ray could be lying to her. This possibility makes her feel better. Suddenly she hears a... (full context)
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lily tells Rosaleen what T. Ray told her about Deborah. Rosaleen agrees with Lily that it’s possible that T. Ray lied.... (full context)
Chapter 5
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
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Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
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...do next, and decides to find out as much as she can about Deborah before T. Ray or the police find her. (full context)
Chapter 8
Race, America, and the 1960s Theme Icon
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...goes to the telephone outside Forrest’s office and uses it to place a call to T. Ray . T. Ray answers the phone and realizes that he’s speaking to his daughter. He... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Lily goes home and writes a letter to T. Ray , even though she knows she could never send it. In the letter, she tells... (full context)
Chapter 9
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
...gets even hotter. Lily rests in the honey house and thinks about her call to T. Ray . She wants to tell Rosaleen about it, but decides against doing so, since this... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
...open. Lily remembers that her mother used to do exactly the same thing: she remembers T. Ray telling her that her mother would lure roaches with marshmallows. She can’t help but wonder... (full context)
Chapter 12
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
...her the truth about her own parents. Lily confesses that she’s been lying: her father, T. Ray , isn’t dead, as she’d claimed. She also tells August that T. Ray told her... (full context)
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
...but you.” Deborah moved to South Carolina, but instead of moving to Tiburon, she married T. Ray in Sylvan. Lily can’t understand why Deborah would marry a man like T. Ray, but... (full context)
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Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Lying, Storytelling, and Confession Theme Icon
...in Tiburon shortly before her death. Deborah told August that she was planning to leave T. Ray soon—she’d been very depressed lately. Lily is sad to hear this about her mother: after... (full context)
Chapter 14
Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
Religion, Guilt, and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Ceremony and Ritual Theme Icon
The next day, there’s a knock at the door. Lily is surprised to find that T. Ray is standing outside. Angrily, T. Ray says that he’s spent half his summer looking for... (full context)
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Mothers and Daughters Theme Icon
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T. Ray asks where Rosaleen is, and Lily lies and says Rosaleen has already left the house.... (full context)
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T. Ray starts to drag Lily toward the door, calling her Deborah, much to Lily’s confusion. Instead... (full context)
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T. Ray tells Lily that it’s time to go home, but Lily refuses to leave—she explains that... (full context)
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T. Ray walks to his truck, which is parked outside, and prepares to drive away. Suddenly, Lily... (full context)
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...much of her time writing down what’s happened to her. She thinks about the day T. Ray left her, and about the statue of Mary—a woman who lives inside her. Lily concludes... (full context)