Christopher Werth Listen now: No big surprise there. Below is a transcript of the episode, modified for your reading pleasure. For more information on the people and ideas in the episode, see the links at the bottom of this post.
What makes their relationship so complicated? Lily has a very complicated relationship with her dead mother. On one hand, she loves her mother dearly and misses her constantly throughout the novel, especially when she is alone at night.
When she learns that her mother had left her with T. Ray before she died, she resents her mother a great deal. She is angry with her mother for not loving her, for not being there for her, and for being a flawed person.
But even while she is filled with anger, Lily still loves her mother dearly and looks for proof everywhere that her mother cared for her.
The fact that she has trouble forgiving her mother disturbs Lily and leaves her feeling ugly inside. However, Lily eventually realizes that Deborah was a real person, just as she is, and that even if Deborah had lived, she would have had flaws and problems.
Once Lily realizes her mother was a real, complex person, she takes time out of her life to mourn the loss of this very real mother.
Through this mourning, Lily discovers the ability to forgive her mother for her faults—and for leaving her behind. This process is difficult for Lily for many reasons, especially because Lily also feels guilty for her role in killing her mother. Lily relies on the rhythms of the river to guide her through the trauma.
In mourning like the river moves, she lets the pain, anger, guilt, and frustration flow downhill and out of her life. How do they help Lily grow up? When the novel begins, Lily has only one female companion: However, in Tiburon, she comes upon a few large, active female communities.
August, June, and May. These sisters support each other in a way that Lily has never experienced. For example, August develops the wailing wall to help May deal with her depression.
Whenever May is upset, August or June always encourage her to reduce her pain by going out to the wall.
From this community, Lily learns about being a member of a supportive family. In just a short time, Lily too encourages May to head to the wall.
Being around the Boatwrights teaches Lily learns how to be a supportive sister to other women. For much of the novel, Lily struggles to ask August or the black Mary statue for help or guidance. She learns that asking for help and guidance is a sign of maturity—and she begins to understand that asking for help and guidance makes a person stronger.
In addition to the lessons Lily learns from the sisters, Lily matures a great deal by being around the Daughters of Mary.
This boisterous religious community at first seems closed-off to Lily: But their community is really based on pooling their feminine powers and in praying to their female divinity. Once Lily realizes the community is based around tenets of support and mutual love, she soon is able to derive support from the ladies and to love them as they love her.The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd is a page turning novel about Lily’s journey to find answers to her past.
There are themes and symbolisms throughout the book. Racism, forgiveness/coping, and bees are big ones for many characters throughout the novel.
After coming to terms with her mother’s life, Lily must come to terms separately with her death. Lily relies on the rhythms of the river to guide her through the trauma. In mourning like the river moves, she lets the pain, anger, guilt, and frustration flow downhill and out of her life.
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