Nov 11, 2004

The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd

This is my second time through with this book, and I am glad I re-read it. The first time through, the story itself kept me busy - what had Lily done? And where would she end up? And what would happen to the Calendar sisters and everone else? Everyone's fate seemed so up in the air, there were so many people to worry about. The second time through, I was able to really get into the emotion and spirituality of the book. There is an earnestness in this writing, honest embellishments that lay open the story. What does it do to a person, to have killed the very thing you yearn for your whole life? To know that, if it hadn't been for you and your actions and your mistakes, the happiness you think of with every breath might have been yours? I cannot wrap my mind around it, how one can somehow come to a place where they can live with themselves and the knowledge that they killed their mother. Of course it is August, and August's faith that helps Lily there, but still. I wonder if Lily can be ok with it because her mother had left her. Because for the moment, as she is finding all this out, she is so angry and sad at the thought of having been left. She never quite brings it home in the end, never quite faces up to it (although I suppose she faced up to it for much of the novel, a large part of her sadness and flight). In the end, when Lily asks T. Ray if she really did kill her mother, standing there in the driveway as he is ready to say goodbye forever, T. Ray tells her honestly that she did: "Maybe he was telling me the truth, but you could never know a hundred percent with T. Ray" (299). So she is still hanging on to that little bit of possibility, and I guess maybe that's how someone could survive emotionally intact.

1 comment:

lovelivres said...

I do think that Lily used the excuse that her mother had left her as justification for killing her, even though killing her was an accident. At the beginning of the novel, Lily makes it clear that she is tormented by the idea she had shot her mother. At this point, she has put her mother on the highest of pedestals, believing that her mother would never have done anything to hurt her. When Lily finds out that her mother left her with T. Ray, she grabs on to this and, I believe, subconsciously builds it up as the worst kind of betrayal as a way to ease her guilt over shooting her mother. In the end, what truly helps Lily to find peace is the saftey, acceptance, and family she finds in August and the Daughters. I think Lily will always be conscious of that horrific day when she was four, but she has evolved to a place where she can live with her past and have confidence enough in herself to imagine a positive future.