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The Secret Life of Bees

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Title: The Secret Life of Bees

Author: Sue Monk Kidd

Date Written: 1997-2001 Published on 2002

Genre: Coming of Age Novel; Fiction

Basic Setting: South Carolina, 1964

Point of View: First Person

Brief Plot Summary

The novel is about a fourteen year old girl named Lily, who lives in Sylvan, South Carolina with her father, T.Ray who abuses Lily, and housekeeper Rosaleen, on a peach farm in a secluded area of town. Lily accidently killed her mother, Deborah when she was four. So one day Rosaleen and Lily go to town so that Rosaleen could register to vote, but instead three white men harass Rosaleen and they both end up in jail for insulting them. T.Ray comes to take Lily out, but they leave Rosaleen behind. At home, T-Ray scolds Lily harshly, but she stands up to him by saying that her mother will protect her because she's her guardian angel; but her father just laughs at the idea of a guardian angel and also admits that Deborah had already abandoned Lily when she returned home and was killed. Lily realized that she can't tolerate her dad's abuses anymore and decides to run away.

On the road, Lily decides to head toward Tiburon, the town written on the back of her mother's black Mary picture, so that he can find more information on her mother. So Lily goes to the jail where Rosaleen is and finds out that she's in the hospital because the three men were allowed to go into her cell and beat her up. So Lily tricks the security guard with a fake phone call and sneaks Rosaleen out of the hospital. They begin to hitchhike to Tiburon and end up on the door steps of a bright pink house, which belongs to August Boatwright and her two sister May and June Boatwright. Lily tells August that she and Rosaleen have run away, because her father has died in a tractor accident and are headed to Virginia to meet her Aunt Bernie.

August welcome them both in, and are taken to the honey house where they will both stay. Rosaleen will help May around the house, and Lily will help august and Zach with the bees, because she's a beekeeper and a honey collector. Anyways Lily ends up learning about the fascinating world about bees. She makes two new friends Zach and Becca and is even invited into the "Daughter of Mary" who worships a three foot statue of Mary.

On day Zach gets arrested because he was hanging out with a group of guys who insulted a white guy. They hid this from May because the sisters knew that she would be extremely upset and she is the most sensitive of all the sisters, but she still found out and drowned herself in the river. So the next week after May's funeral, Zach is reassessed from jail, unharmed and unpunished because this other guy confessed. A few days later Lily tells August the truth on how she ended up in Tiburon, and August says that she already knew who he was. August also says that Deborah had already left her when she returned home and was shot to death and that she only whet back to get her cloths.

So then Lily started mourning her mother's death; Days later, after she has recovered from her grief and her father arrives at the Boatwright house. Even though T.Ray was angry and violent, she finally finds the courage to confront him about the past and to call him "Daddy." August convinces him to let Lily stay in Tiburon. Lily stays in Tiburon and receives the motherly love she's been wanting and becomes a loving and loved person as well.

Background Information on the Civil Rights Movement

The Civil Rights Movement was a huge protest movement against racial segregations and discrimination in the southern part of America. At that time people of color who lived in the south were segregated from the Whites and were treated differently. During the 1950s, two incidents brought the issue of civil rights directly into the public spotlight.

On May 17, 1954, the NAACP, which had been steadily chipping away at the legal foundations of segregation, won a legal victory: The Supreme Court unanimously ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

The second incident unfolded in Montgomery, Alabama, where a seamstress named Rosa Parks created the spark that would provide the drive for the entire civil rights movement. On December 1, 1955, Rosa took a seat in the designated area for colored people section in the back of the bus. Later, Parks refused to give up her seat to a white passenger, disobeying the law by which blacks were required to give up their seats to white passengers when the front section, reserved for whites, was filled. Parks was immediately arrested and that when the black community started on a one-day local boycott of Montgomery's public bus system. As support for Parks multiply, black leaders took advantage of the opportunity to draw attention to their cause. They enlisted the help of Martin Luther King Jr. they started the Montgomery bus boycott, which successfully stopped segregation on the buses.

King became a major force in organizing the civil rights movement with His devotion to the nonviolent strategy used by the Indian nationalist Mohandas Gandhi would largely characterize the entire civil rights movement and inspire large-scale participation by whites as well as blacks. He's most famous protest was the March to Washington, where King made is "I Have A Dream" Speech. By 1965 the voting campaign had shifted to Selma, Alabama, where, under the leadership of King, thousands of demonstrators began a fifty-mile trek to Montgomery. This time, as the peaceful demonstrators approached the Edmund Pettis Bridge, state troopers used police whips and clubs to halt their progress. On August 6, 1965, shortly after the highly publicized events in Selma, President Johnson signed into law the Voting

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