The Secret Life of Bees takes place in 1964, immediately after the signing of the Civil Rights Act by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The Civil Rights Act is often regarded as having ushered in a new era of American history. With it the U.S. government finally defended African Americans’ legal and societal rights: black people could eat in restaurants, use public bathrooms, vote, and drive without fear of legal discrimination. But as Kidd makes…(read full theme analysis)
From the first chapter, Sue Monk Kidd makes it clear that she’s writing a novel about the relationships between different kinds of women. Because the protagonist of her book is a young teenager who’s lost her mother, and the majority of the other female characters are adult women, the most important kind of woman-to-woman relationship for the novel is that between the mother and the daughter. Lily travels to Tiburon, South Carolina, in search of…(read full theme analysis)
One of the first things we learn about Lily Owens, the protagonist of The Secret Life of Bees, is that she’s a gifted storyteller. Lily enjoys writing stories; moreover, she’s good at inventing “stories”—in other words, lies—to get herself out of trouble. At several points, Lily’s ability to concoct a convincing story saves her from jail (and moves the plot of the novel forward). But storytelling in The Secret Life of Bees is…(read full theme analysis)
Some of the longest and most vivid passages in The Secret Life of Bees are about the elaborate religious ceremonies and rituals that take place at the Boatwright house. The three Boatwright sisters subscribe to a religion they’ve developed themselves, blending aspects of Catholicism and African-American history.
The Secret Life of Bees makes it clear that rituals and ceremonies are bent and shaped according to the needs of the people who practice them. The Boatwrights…(read full theme analysis)