I agree with Abigail that this book embodies the romantic aspirations, not just of Lily, but every character in the book. Rather than the matieralistic dreams shown in The Great Gatsby, characters of The Secret Life of Bees strive for love and adoration. Lily longs to be accepted by a pseudo family of any sort and finds that love in the calendar girls. The Boatwright sisters themselves seek love among themselves and to strengthen the familial bonds as well as love among the Daughters of Mary and others around them. They are open and non-judgemental in their individual ways, May and August being the most conspicuous in their openness.
Most importantly, T. Ray seeks love. Though he appears to be a cold-hearted, unloving father, the pain and suffering from his past covers up his true intentions to love his daughter and get past his deceased wife. He hides his anger through hostility and anger which makes Lily feel unloved. The true intention of his enigmatic dream is to forgive his daughter, move on from the past, and be able to love again.
Women in literature are often depicted as romantics and always seem to be searching for love and commonly in novels, they find that one love. In The Secret Life of Bees, Lily spends her entire life unloved by her father and everyone else. Until she meets Zach and the Calendar sisters, Lily searches for those that care about her. The woman protagonist in this novel is depicted as a romantic searching for someone to love her, Lily is lucky to find two different kinds of loves. LIly develops a loving family type relationship with the Calendar sisters, her first family that cared about her even if they were not blood related, they treated lily like their own. Lily’s second love is with the young Zach, Lily had grown up being the ugly duckling thinking no one would ever think she was pretty or even have feelings for her. Lily and Zach’s relationship furthers the fact that women in this novel are considered romantics. This is a general statement as well, most women are stereotyped as romantics and revolve their lives around finding their true loves. This stereotype is present in The Secret Life of Bees.
As I read further into the book, I find that the struggle is symbolic of our society struggle. Sadly in our world there are still people who find woman to be the “lesser” role on Earth. In, The Secret Life of Bees, it seems as if this struggle is not only shown, but solved. As Lily meets more and more people in Tiburon she starts to gain confidence in herself and her gender. This struggle can be symbolic of any other struggle in society today. A person has a problem and is helped out of it with the support of his/her friends.
The Author is using the struggles as a way to reaffirm struggles not only just woman’s rights, but in general. Like I said before, this is a classic example of a struggle and solution. I predict at the end of the novel, Lily will gain enough confidence in herself to do something that would have been hard to do otherwise.
I think there are two, polar opposite portrayals of women in The Secret Life of Bees. On one hand, Lily is suppressed by her father and displays the inferiority of women in the twentieth century. The way she is treated and talked down to are not only similiar to the way young girls were treated but also grown women as wives, mothers, workers, etc. On the contrary, the strenght and independence of the black women in the story is completely opposite of black women’s role of the time. In the plot, June, May, Rosaleen, August, and others are completely strong-willed, self-sufficient women who are not suppresed by men and do not rely on them. Serving as role models to Lily, they help her grow and see what a woman’s role can really be.
These two roles show the way women are portrayed in society versus their potential. Society of the twentieth century made women inferior to men and forced them to be silent, subordinate, and obedient. Unfortunately, the strength of women was underestimated and suppressed.
I believe that the way in which women are depicted in The Secret Life of Bees is that women are caretakers. Children and others go to mothers or women friends in search of strength. Women are dependable and nurturing. Because of the death of May “the Daughters of Mary” band together to support June and August in this difficult time. Because of American society people are lead to believe that the stereotype of women as caretakers only has to do with women being portrayed as a maids, cooks, or cleaners. We as a society do not recognize the greater implications that being a caretaker implies. August and June are strong for each other. August works with Lily to get Lily to confess to the reason why she has left home. In truth, no man could completely or fully fulfill the role of a woman or mother. This is clearly evidenced through T. Ray who Lily could never to go for advice. I think that Sue Monk Kidd is trying to remind us as readers that just because a woman works at home she can still be just a strong and supportive as any man. A woman may choose to solely be the caretaker of hope and happiness or her family not their materialistic needs. (Chelsea m)
PS- Mrs. Peaslee, I don’t think that Sue Kidd is representative of all women because no one woman could be. I do, however, believe that she goes against a lot of the stereotypes in society and I appreciate her for showing new insights.
In the Secret Life Of Bee, Women are depicted as the lesser sex of the two. In the opening chapters, Lily and Rosealeen are shown in society as not equal. In Chapter one, Lily witnessed Roesaleen get yelled at and thrown in jail. Along with this incident, she talks about how her father does not treat quite as well as her mother. Lily is definitely a feminist and the book is about these feminist ways. Lily never refers to her dad as dad, but as T. Ray. Woman in the novel are portrayed, in the beginning, as inferior to men. Lily and Rosealeen have to become rebels on the run in order to survive. They break out of jail and hitchhike their way to the woods. This seems to be the beginning of an epic tale of woman in society’s struggle.
In the novel, The Secret Life of Bees, the protagonist Lily is depicted as inferior in the eyes of her father. Lily’s father feels ashamed of Lily wanting to be educated and punishes her when she tries to read a book during a slow day of selling peaches. Lily’s father treats her like an animal, locked up, with no where to go and no sense of belonging. The way women, like Lily, are depicted in the book is in an inferior light. T. Ray has no interest in his daughters life and he doesn’t give notice to the fact that she is incredibly bright and could hold her own in society. But because he doesn’t believe women belong in higher education such as college, he ‘ support her achievements. For the purpose of the story, the author may depict Lily as inferior in the eyes of society so that she can prove herself to her father and society.
Through reading The Secret Life of Bees I have become increasingly aware that the novel is written by a women, Sue Monk Kidd. Although she does discuss the stereotype of women being emotion through the character of May, she does depict women in a favorable manor. Mrs. Kidd expresses that it would be a waste of Lily’s time to go to beauty school. Lily would live more up to her potential by becoming a writer or an English teacher. The use of the black Mary is also a compliment to women because she is depicted as a strong leader that helps save those who are chained. The entire book has a tone that favors women with little subtleties about August’s Grandmother, Big Mama, being an even better keeper because she was a woman. I don’t believe that Mrs. Kidd is being biased toward women because I think that each of the three black sisters represent different types of women: May is emotional and sympathetic, June is strong but distant, and August is the wise one. I believe that in the reading I have done so far that Mrs. Kidd was done excellent and realistic depictions of women is society.
In The Secret Life of Bees, women are not presented in the media at all. However, the rest of the plot revolves around the role of women in the home and in society. Lily herself is portrayed as a helpless, unloved teen who is struggling to find her identity among those who do not support her. Living with a suppressive and abusive father in contrast to a tough-loving, surrogate mother provides little comfort for the difficulties that she independently faces. When she and Rosaleen run off to the bee farm, Lily gets a glimpse at the role of women versus girls and what a mother may feel like. Women influences such as August and Rosaleen serve as role-models to Lily, having no biological mother to fill that role. Lily is also exposed to the harships that women face such as abusive relationships or discrimination. Yet, at the same time, she sees the strength and power of these women and is inspired.
The second question being considered during this unit is: What does the way women are depicted in contemporary fiction say about our culture and identity? Evaluate the purpose of presenting women in this way in your novel.
One of the questions being considered during this unit is: How are women depicted in contemporary fiction and media? During your reading of the novel, comment on the ways in which women are being portrayed. Consider relationships, experiences, situations, etc.