The Secret Life of Bees

By: Jessie Johnston

Title: The Secret Life of Bees

Author: Sue Monk Kid

Genre: Fictional novel

Setting: Tiburon,South Carolina in 1964

Characters:  Lily Melissa Owens, August Boatwright, Deborah Fontanel, Zachary Taylor, Terrence Ray (T.Ray) Owens, June Boatwright, May Boatwright, Neil, The Daughters of Mary, Queenie, Violet, Lunelle, Cressie,  Mabelee, Sugar-girl , Otis Hill, Clayton Forrest, April Boatwright, Brother Gerald, Franklin Posey, Avery Gatson,  Miss Lacy, Becca Forrest,  Mrs. Gatson, Rose Campbell, Aunt Bernie, Frogman General Store Clerk, Rosaleen Daise

Protagonist: Lilly Owens

Antagonist: Terrence Ray Owens

Specific Characterization:

Lily Owens: 14 year old white girl, narrator, in love with a black boy Zachary Taylor, lives with a black family

Terrence Ray: Lily's father, abusive, only loves his dog

August Boatwright: takes in Lily, caring, beekeeper, leader among her sisters

Rosaleen Daise: Lily's nanny, goes to jail, stands up for what she believes in, proud

Deborah Fontanel: Lily's mother, dies when Lilly is 4

Zachary Taylor: black boy that is in love with Lily Owens, helps August keeping bees


Beehives are symbolic. Just like the Virgin Mary, a Queen Bee is the mother of everyone and makes sure everything is running smoothly. The bees also protect their beehive, just like August protecting her house. To protect her house August uses rituals such as prayers.

The Black Mother Mary is also symbolic. As Lily carries around the picture of the Black Mother Mary it symbolizes Lily and Deborah. August later takes in Lily, replacing Deborah and becoming Lily's Black Mother of Mary. The Black Mother of Mary also symbolizes their religion and faith, and what they believe in.

The picture that Lilly carried of her mother Deborah symbolized the love Lilly had for her. Lilly admired her, and always wanted to be as pretty as her mom.


At the beginning of the book Lilly is watching the bees fly around her room. Lilly tries to catch the bees and put them in a jar. This is foreshadowing Lilly's arrival at August's house where she will help become a beekeeper.


It is ironic when Lilly runs away from T. Ray that she ends up in the same place that her mother went when she ran away from T. Ray.


Lilly makes an allusion to the Bible when she is covered in bees. She mentions God, Moses, and the Plague.


On the first page of the book the author uses imagery to describe the way the bees flew.


Lilly has flashbacks to the day when she was 4 years old and she shot her mother by accident. Her father and mother had been fighting, and there was a gun on the floor. When Lilly went to hand it to her mom it went off and Lilly's mother died.


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