The Secret Life of Bees - Critical Essay

1764 Words8 Pages
Kathy Holcomb
Prof. Robert Weber
English 112
April 14, 2009
The Secret Life of Bees Critical Essay Sue Monk Kidd has carefully crafted a book rich in symbolism with special emphasis on bees. Each section’s heading features the inner workings of this communal society (Emanuel, Catherine, B. 3). An epigraph at the beginning relating to bees sets the tone for the each chapter. The first chapter epigraph states: The Queen, for her part, is the unifying force of the community; if she is removed from the hive, the workers very quickly sense her absence. After a few hours, or even less, they show unmistakable signs of queenlessness.” Man and Insects.
The Queen bee is the novel’s symbol of a mother figure and is used throughout Lily’s
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Bees live in social units comprised of a queen bee and her sterile daughters. These female bees need male bees only rarely. This statement captures the strong female presence of the Boatwright residence. The Boatwright sisters live together and do not require men to help them survive. The sisters are very successful and have a nice house on a large plot of land. (The Best Notes, Chapter 4).
Suffice it to say, when Lily and Rosaleen follow their yellow brick road to the idiosyncratic compound of three black women bee-keepers, May, June and August, they come upon a trio that embodies every form of maternal nurturance and emotional education Lily needs, and a comfortable nest for Rosaleen as well. In the Boatwright sisters, for whom the black Madonna is queen, Kidd has created a wonderful fantasy, a sort of beloved community, part Oz, part ashram, part center for racial reconciliation (Brown 1).
They live in a bright pink house, a very feminine color. The woman in the household have names pertaining to seasons. “These names span a time frame of both sowing and reaping, spring to late summer.” (Emanual, Catherine B. 2). Appropriately, August (a mature season) champions and befriends Lily providing the wisdom and security she so desperately needs. She gently guides Lily but allows her to find her own way. Under Augusts’ wing, Lily finally finds a place to nest. She
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