The Secrets Behind the Secret Life of Bees

Style Analysis English Honors 1 30 April 2012 The Secrets Behind The Secret Life of Bees Novelist Sue Monk Kidd in her book The Secret Life of Bees illustrates Lily Owens’ journey as she overcomes the irrationalities of racism, discovers the power of the female community, and defines the importance of storytelling. Kidd’s purpose is to convey that even though society might drag a person down, the person still has someone who believes in them. She also wants people to be able to understand how real racism and loneliness is, what one can do to rise above it, and how not to put all of ones’ dreams into one belief.
Kidd uses vivid imagery, poetic devices and a unique dialogue to assist making the point of views on racism in the 1960’s, Lily’s journey to finding a true role model, and the truth she craves so deeply, clear. Kidd uses a unique display of the southern vernacular in her novel, to stress the racism that occurs in the setting of the book. To exemplify the racism in the story, the characters in the novel talk in slang. When Rosaleen, Lily Owen’s companion and maid, pours tobacco juice on a white man’s shoe, Lily defines how bad the situation is because the man Rosaleen poured “snuff juice” on was “the biggest nigger-hater in Sylvan” (37-38).
This makes the racism towards Rosaleen clear by the use of the derogatory word “nigger” in the dialogue. Use of this word creates a feeling of anger within the reader. Another example of how Kidd uses dialogue in the novel to enhance racism is near the end of the novel when Lily and Becca, sit at the tables in school. Lily is speaking to the reader and explaining how she and Becca “have reputations as “nigger lovers,” (301) because they hang around and stand up for Zach, Lily’s African-American crush.

This displays one of the many irrationalities of racism by demonstrating how people can stereotype those who hang around colored people. Kidd also uses dialogue as an amazing device to express the mood and tone of the book. Near the end of the story, Zach converses with Lily. He says, “We can’t be together now, but one day, after I’ve gone away and become somebody, I’m gonna find you, and we’ll be together then” (231). Zach makes this comment because he realizes that racism exists in the world and takes it upon himself to become a bigger man and see through it.
Overall, Sue Monk Kidd created the dialogue in the southern vernacular to help elevate the tone of the novel, help people better understand the setting and to assist the reader in envisioning the scenes. Sue Monk Kidd mainly resorts to the use of figurative language to help the audience better picture the events in the story. Kidd repeatedly uses imagery to creatively describe Lily’s surroundings and give life to it. In the very beginning of the novel, Lily pictures herself talking to her mother about the gun incident. She pleads, “Mother, forgive. Please forgive” (3).
Then she pictures her mom kissing her skin “till it grew chapped” (3) and telling her she was not to blame. Kidd uses this kind of view to show the audience of the book that Lily wants her mom to love her more than anything and that she wants the truth to the incident so the guilt she feels can vanish. Kidd also uses personification and metaphors many times within the novel. She uses these two poetic devices to add more character to Lily’s personality. The use of this kind of figurative language better depicts the tone and mood of any scene. Kidd uses figurative language a lot when she is describing Lily’s love life.
For example, Lily speaks to the audience of the books when she says, “I can tell you this much, the world is a great big log thrown on the fires of love” (133). Lily comes to this conclusion at the end of chapter 7 after she has her first intimate interaction with Zach and has witnessed Neil and June have a fight. In these two very intense moments, she comes face to face with love and learns that it not only brings people together, but also sometimes drives people apart. Just moments before this quotation, Lily was driving with Zach when she realized, definitively, that she loved him.
The figurative language in this quote helps enhance the fact that Lily has become more mature while staying with the Boatwright sisters. The last main element Sue Monk Kidd uses in her novel The Secret Life of Bees is imagery. Kidd mostly uses imagery to stress the importance of believing in storytelling and the power of the female community. In the middle of the novel, Lily is lying in bed hurt from the truth about her mother. She describes her confusion and stress of the situation by saying, “One minute I was dreaming of Zach and the next I was hungering for my mother, imagining her calling my name, saying, Lily, girl.
You are my flower” (139). Kidd identifies the pain of being alone and the grief of truth through Lily. She uses imagery and diction in this quote to appeal to the emotion of sorrow within the audience. This conveys a stressful, confusing tone within the book. In the end of the novel, Kidd appeals to the joyful and compassionate emotions of the audience when Lily says, “I have more mothers than any eight girls off the street. They are the moons shining over me” (302). This incorporates figurative language along with imagery, the importance of mothers, and the power of the female community into it.
The meaningfulness and joyfulness of this quote conveys a calming tone that reassures Lily will be well looked after in her future and that she is loved by many people without the irrationalities of racism. In conclusion, Sue Monk Kidd uses four main techniques in her novel. The first method is dialogue, which is meant to enhance the readers understanding of the setting and characters in the novel. The second style is the use of figurative language, which is meant to describe Lily’s surroundings and give life to it. This also makes the text more interesting to read because the figurative language helps spice it up.
The third aspect is imagery which is meant to draw readers in with a display of colorful words, images, and diction. Lastly, the use of the southern vernacular incorporated in Kidd’s work better personifies the characters’ actions and thoughts. It also helps the reader understand the setting of the novel better. Altogether, these techniques of writing in Kidd’s work help deeper explain the three main themes: the importance of storytelling, irrationalities of racism and the power of the female community. Works cited Kidd, Sue Monk. The Secret Life of Bees. New York: Penguin Group, 2002. Print.


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