In Sue Monk Kid’s The Secret Life of Bees, with August as a guide, Lily gradually walks out of the shadow of her mothers death and learns to accept and forgive herself and her mother. Lily grows up under the shadow of her mother’s death. As Lily’s mother died when she was little, Lily thirsts for her father’s love. Yet, her father, T. Ray, wipes out her every expectation for love. In contrast, the relationship between T. Ray and Lily is dysfunctional. Lily even calls him “T. Ray” instead of Daddy as she believes “Daddy never fit him” (Kid 2). Not only does T. Ray ignore Lily frequently, but also he is actually an abusive father.
For instance, T. Ray has forced Lily to kneel on Martha white grits as punishment since she was six. This is a very cruel and humiliating act award a little girl. T. Rays irrational behavior leads to the deterioration of their relationship, and he ultimately causes Lily to feel that she is unlovable. Besides, T. Ray is very reluctant to mention her mother. When Lily asks him about what cake icing her mother Deborah preferred, T. Ray just tells her to “shut up” (1 2), and asks her to “[pick] up a jar of blackberry jelly and [throw] it against the kitchen cabinet” (13).
What T. Ray tells Lily about her mother is only the fact that Lily shot her. Therefore, Lily’s guilt accumulates because she cannot accept the cruel truth. Lily longs for forgiveness from her mother and popes that her mother would tell her “she was not to blame” (3). Without appropriate guidance and comfort from her father, however, time does not heal the sorrow of her mothers death. Once Lily could not rely on her fathers love to escape from her sorrow, her insufficient love from T. Ray leads her to create an idealized image of her mother to temporarily relieve her grief.
Lily thinks that her father treats his dog even better than her because she has seen “Snout pee on T. Rays boot and it not get a rise out of him” (3). T. Rays failure in providing sufficient paternal love to Lily further hinders her from eating go of her mother. When T. Ray is about to hit Lily, Lily shouts out that “My Mother will never let you touch me again” (38). It shows that Lily idealized her mother as someone to protect her. There is a “guardian angel image” of her mother in her mind. In addition, Lily feels angry when T.
Ray tells her that “Your sorry mother ran off and left you” (39). Lily finds T. Rays statement inconceivable. She does not let T. Ray hurt her even if she knows that her mom is dead. As a result, Lily runs away from home to Tiburon in order to find out the truth about her dead mother and to prove that T. Ray is lying. In Tiburon, Lily feels angry and sad when August Bodyweight informs her that T. Rays assertion that her mother left her is true. When August tells Lily that “Deborah came by Lily is shocked and thus cannot accept the fact that her mother actually abandoned her.
As Lily finds out that “all of it was lies” (252), she now hates her mother. Hence, Lily explodes in anger by destroying the honey house and smashing the honey jar everywhere. Since Lily spends her life “imagining all the ways [Deborah] loves [her], what a perfect specimen of a mother she is” (251), her idealization of Deborah is mashed. Fortunately, August guides Lily to turn her hatred into acceptance through telling her more about her mother and comforting her. Augustus action to guide Lily step by step to free herself from her past demonstrates her love for Lily.
When Lily confesses the truth about her identity, her past and that she is the perpetrator of her mother’s killing, August does not blame her. Instead, she comforts Lily by saying ‘She’s] not unlovable” (242), and everyone in the house loves her. Besides, August is able to alleviate Lily’s sadness through sharing Deborah belongings with Lily. When August shows lye the photograph of Deborah feeding her with a baby spoon, she is deeply touched by the scene described in the picture: “[Deborah] had rubbed her nose against mine and pours her light On [her] face” (275).
Lily finds evidence to prove that her mother actually loves her, and she comes to accept that she is no longer unlovable. Knowing that she is loved, Lily begins to accept her mother’s imperfections. The mouse bones she finds in Deborah room represent Deborah dead body. Initially, Lily “[carries the bones] around her pocket” (278) everyday and “[stuffs] that [hatbox] down inside her [pillowcase]” (278) in order to sleep. These kinds of actions reveal that she is living under the shadow of her mother’s death, that she killed her mother accidentally. However, after Augustus guidance, Lily decides “to become part of the world again” (284).
She “realizes [she doesn’t] need to carry [the mouse bones] around anymore” (284). Thus, Lily is willing to display Deborah belongings, which reflects that she is able to accept the death of her mother and the fact that her mother left her. Lily finally understands Augustus points that “nobody is perfect” (285) and that “regrets don’t help anything” (284). She comes to realize that human imperfection is just human nature. After Lily accepts the truth about her mothers death, she is able to forgive herself and her mother by finding her mother within.
As August said, “You don’t have to put your hand on Mar’s heart to get strength and consolation and rescue, and all the other things we need to get through life. You can place it right here on your own heart” (288). Although everyone has a mother to rely on, people should be able to stand on their own when their mothers pass away. Therefore, it is important for Lily to find the mother within because it helps Lily to walk out of her mothers death. Furthermore, by correcting the underlying meaning of Beatniks story, August hopes that “[the lady] can act for Deborah and be like a stand-in mother for [Lily]” (287).
Due to Augustus inspiration, Lily is able to forgive her mother, stating, “l have forgiven [myself and Deborah]” (301). Even though there is no way that Lily can forget Deborah as “sometimes in the night Cheer] dreams will take [her] back to the sadness, and [she] has to wake up and forgive [herself and Deborah] again” (301 her willingness to forgive indicates that she has found her “mother within. ” With “all [the] women, all [the] love, waiting” (299), Lily discovers the way to reach consolation. Ultimately, Lily walks out from the shadow of her mother’s death and starts a brand-new life.