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The Secret Life Of Bees Literary Analysis Essay

The poet Maya Aneton once said “It [is] one of the greatest gifts [a person] can give [him or herself] to forgive. Forgive everybody. ” It is difficult sometimes for people to forgive themselves for past issues or transgressions. The result often becomes an inability to exculpate others as well. However, if a person can seek forgiveness, then happiness will become more apparent in his or her life. In the novel The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd demonstrates how contentment becomes prevalent in a person’s life through the characters Lily and June once they seek forgiveness.

Lily, a fourteen-year-old runaway white girl, not only struggles to forgive herself, but her father, T Ray, and her mother for their wrongdoings in her lifetime. Similarly, June, one of the Boatwright sisters that takes in Lily when she runs away, strives to pardon her ex fiance and Lily’s mother due to the undeserved way they treated June in her past. Lily’s blame for accidentally killing her mother causes her to be unsatisfied with her life. Lily, with vague memories, is aware that “it was [her] fault [her mother] died. [She] killed her” (Sue Monk Kidd 241), and has to live with that guilt for the rest of her life.

Her inability to forgive herself for this unpreventable catastrophe eats her away, and the lust of wanting her mother causes her to hate herself. Lily identifies herself as the person “who took [her] mother away. ” (8), other then that she is not conscious of anything else about herself. No persons could be content with their life, having knowledge of this tragedy, not alone a young teenage girl that needs her mother more than ever. All Lily dreams of is the bond that a mother and daughter should have. She desires a mother to “help [with] fashion” (8), doing her hair, and growing up as all teenage girls do.

Lily knows she cannot have that relationship because she caused the death of her mother. Her memories of this event drives Lily to despair, causing no merriment in her life. It is not until Lily attempts to solicit forgiveness by a religious experience through Mary, the person the Boatwright sisters pray to. Lily recognizes through this exposure of Mary that she can forgive herself for what she had done. However, her past may always trouble her, yet whenever she experiences this dismay, she will remember that Mary is inside of her heart telling her to “get up from there and live like the glorious girl” (289), that she is.

When Lily pardons herself from this inevitable occurrence, she will allow joy in her life rather than this haunting memory, constantly bringing her such distress. Comparably, Lily experiences this same difficulty with forgiving her mother for leaving Lily behind which causes her to become melancholy in character. When Lily is told that her “mother had left” (251), her, she feels as if she is “an unwanted baby” (249), and comes to “hate her” (251), mother. She cannot comprehend why her mother would abandon her as an infant with an abusive father. Lily perceives that this would “sink [her] forever. (40). Her resentment of her mother is caused by her feeling hollow inside. Lily appears to be betrayed because “the things that [Lily] believed, all of those stories about her [mother that Lily] lived off of like they were food and water and air” (260), were fabricated. She never knew the truth that her mother had forsaken her, and when Lily finds out she becomes devastated.

At this point Lily is dejected due to her unforgiveness of her mother. She will not be content with her life until she registers that “Every person on the face of the earth makes mistakes… Every last one… Her] mother made a terrible mistake, but she tried to fix it. ” (256), and for that she needs to excuse her mother’s actions. Now when Lily thinks about her mother, she is aware that “nobody is perfect. “(285), and accepts that. Once Lily exonerates her mother for her mistakes she can easily move on with her own life, and leave any animosity behind her. Likewise, Lily resents her father due to his abusive behaviors until she forgives him. T Ray does not show love or affection towards Lily. Instead, T Ray is filled with hostility caused by Deborah’s death and takes his rage out on Lily.

He will do this by forcing Lily to kneel on grits where the disconforment is so severe Lily will “sway from knee to knee, hoping for a second or two of relief, but the pain cuts deep into [her] skin. ” (24). Lily does not understand why her father has no attachment towards her, since she is all he has, or why he is extremely cruel to her. His barbarous tendencies lead Lily to presume that she is “unlovable” (242), and she begins to express that she “hate[s]” (39), her father. She runs away in hope to leave her father behind, yet she keeps her hatred for him prevalent.

She is incapable of loving her father, like most would be, due to his brutish actions. Nevertheless, Lily becomes aware that the only way to have satisfaction in her life is to pardon her father’s actions. Yet she clearly understands that “people, in general, would rather die than forgive. Its that hard” (277). Once Lily absolves her father for never loving her, she becomes jovial since she realizes that she is “better off in that house of colored women. [She] never would [have] flowered with [T Ray] like [she] will with” (299-300), the Boatwright sisters.

Although Lily is hurt that her father treats her the way he does, she can move on and find contentment in her life now that she overlooked his hostilities. Similarly to Lily, June lives a lonely life due to her unforgiveness her ex fiance, Melvin. Junes vexation is shown towards all men interested in her because the man she was intending to marry did not” show up for the wedding. ” (103). June’s disconsolate lifestyle is a result of her unforgiveness towards Melvin. This causes June to swear “off men and said she would never get married” (103), and any man that is interested in her she will not give the time of day.

For example, Neil, a black man that is in love with June “has tried every which way to get June to marry him, but she [will not] do it” (103) because of her resentment of that humiliating altercation. June is hard on Neil because her past has scarred her. Although Neil genuinely wants June to marry him she will not since she is afraid of being hurt once again. It is not until she finds her sister, May’s suicide letter that she discerns that she has “been halfway living [her] life for too long… [that June needs to] live like (she is] going all out, like [she is]not afraid… and that she needs to] Marry Neil” (211).

June becomes knowledgeable that she has wasted her life due to a situation in her past that she cannot forget about. This part of her life was completely unpreventable, however June realizes that she can dictate the rest of her life and she has control over her contentment. She is now aware that if June pushes away the man she loves, Neil, that she will never truly be content with her life. Her realization that she has to excuse Melvin for what he has done causes her to accept Neil’s proposal “for the hundredth time to marry” (222), him.

Now that June pardons her ex fiance’s actions she is now capable to live the rest of her life with satisfaction. June also struggles to love Lily due to of Deborah’s prestigious actions. June cannot allow herself to show affection towards Lily because she still holds bitterness toward Deborah. When Lily first arrives at the Boatwright sisters house, she believes that “June might not want [Lily] here” (87) June drowns in her own displeasure because Lily reminds her how much June “resented [Lily’s] mother” (242). She will not take pleasure with her time with Lily, like the other two sisters do, instead she secludes herself from all enjoyment.

No person could be buoyant while trying to avoid a smile every day. When June finally comprehends that her anger is preventable, she enjoys a moment of laughter with Lily and feels “woozy, like someone has pulled the plugs in [June’s] feet and drained [her] out” (169). She is not longer filled with acrimony and exculpates Lily. June is aware that Lily cannot help being her mother’s daughter and “She hug[s]” (170), Lily. June is now relieved that she has opened her heart towards Lily and apologizes “for being so hard on [her] when [Lily] first got here” (226).

The ability for June to see any good in Lily at all was blocked by the hatred of her mother, and June only wanted to dwell upon that fact. Once she forgive Lily for Deborah’s actions she can allow herself to have a life full of joy rather than indignation. Furthermore, if a person is unforgiving for past misdemeanors it becomes difficult for happiness to be allowed in his or her life. Sue Monk Kidd portrays this idea throughout the characters Lily and June with their struggles to find contentment in the world. However, this is an issue some people in the world flounder with.

When a person has done someone wrong it is hard to overlook his or her actions and it inflicts pain upon the victim. It is not until the victim pardons the wrong doings of that person to find happiness with him or herself. In the end, the one forgiving benefits the greatest because the anger weighs heavily upon a person’s soul. Once the anger dissipates a myriad of tensions is released and that person begins to move on with his or her life. Forgiving a lifelong grievance with someone releases the trigger within one’s self to begin the healing process of internal happiness.

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