Journey of a Lifetime
A journey from old places to new is bound to have a significant impact on one’s life. In the novel, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, the protagonist Lily Owens sets off on a life changing journey for answers and support after refusing to believe her father, T. Ray, who says that her mother Deborah left her. Lily and her caretaker Rosaleen set off to Tiburon, a city that was written on the back of her mother’s picture of the black Mary. Lily decides to travel to this city as she believes that it contains clues to her mother’s clouded past and ends up in the Boatwright residence with August, June, and May Boatwright. This journey does not end at Tiburon, however, as she must collect the broken shards of her mother’s past in order to discover what actually happened the day her mother died, and if she left her. Lily then experiences significant life changes that allowed her to mature, an action T. Ray prevented from occurring. This journey changes Lily by allowing other women with a will as powerful as her own who influence her and love her into her life, while the journey relates to the work by involving the theme of maternal figures and bees.
First of all, the journey changes Lily’s life by allowing other women into her life who all have a will as strong as her own. After T. Ray has left the Boatwright residence, Lily thought, “And there they were. All these mothers. I have more mothers than any eight girls off the street. They are the moons shining over me” (Kidd 302). Lily believes that since T. Ray has decided to leave her at Tiburon, she now has many maternal figures in her life. In Sylvan, Lily’s only maternal figure was Rosaleen, who was limited by T. Ray’s tyranny. In addition, Lily’s maternal figures are strong-willed, influential, and powerful. While they were having a chat while sticking labels on honey jars, August explains to Lily, “I love him enough… I just loved my freedom more” (Kidd 146). August explains to Lily that she values her independence more than marriage. The fact that she chooses to remain independent rather than be restricted by marriage shows that she is a strong-willed woman that influences Lily. These influences allowed Lily to mentally strengthen and mature, to the point where T. Ray even confused Lily for her mother Deborah. The fact that Lily was influenced by many strong-willed women such as August, who decided to pursue independence, proves that her journey changed her life by introducing other maternal figures into her life.
Next, the journey changes Lily’s life as she was finally able to feel love from others. While explaining to Lily why she is not unlovable, August explains, “Why, Rosaleen loves you. May loved you. It doesn’t take a wizard to see Zach loves you. And every one of the daughters loves you. And June, despite her ways, loves you, too” (Kidd 242). August explains to Lily that everyone that she has met loves her. Even though Rosaleen loves her, her love is limited by the fact that she is not Lily’s biological mother. Once Lily stayed in Tiburon, however, she was finally able to experience being truly loved as the love from several maternal figures was greater than even love from one biological mother. Afterwards, during her conversation with August about how she is not unlovable, Lily thinks, “All this love to me. I didn’t know what to do with it” (Kidd 243). Lily believes that she has received an abundance of love from all of her maternal figures. She has changed since her departure from Sylvan as she now believes that there are people who truly love her, proving that the journey significantly changes her life. Overall, the journey changes Lily’s life as she was able to feel love from maternal figures, an event that she had not experienced before in Sylvan.
Finally, the journey relates to the work as a whole as it involves the power of the maternal figures, an important theme, and its similarity to the journey of a bee, the namesake of the novel. Before chapter fourteen commences, a quote states, “A queenless colony is a pitiful and melancholy community; there may be a mournful wail or lament from within…. Without intervention, the colony will die. But introduce a new queen and the most extravagant change takes place” (Kidd 277). A colony is unable to survive without a queen, who acts as a mother. However, if another is introduced, significant changes take place due to a queen’s power. Lily represents a colony, as she has lived her life without a mother. Once she is introduced to mothers who love her, she changes significantly by maturing under their powerful influence. Before the start of chapter eleven, a quote states, “It takes honeybee workers ten million foraging trips to gather enough nectar to make one pound of honey” (Kidd 214). A bee’s life involves collecting enough nectar for one main goal: honey. Lily’s journey is similar to this as she collects clues and information about her mother in order to discover if she left her and love, along with the fact that both journeys are grueling and difficult. Achieving this goal resolves the problem that has been bothering her ever since, similar to how creating honey fulfills a worker bee’s purpose in life. The journey that Lily takes relates to the work as a whole due to the fact that her journey is relates to the power of maternal figures and a bees goal of creating honey.
All in all, Lily pursues a journey which changes her life by introducing powerful and loving maternal figures into her life and relates to the work by involving the theme of powerful maternal figures as well as bees. First of all, the journey introduced powerful maternal figures into Lily’s life. These women positively influenced Lily and allowed her to mature into a young woman. Next, the journey introduced Lily to the feeling of being loved. The women that were introduced to Lily’s life loved her, and August explained to her that she is not unlovable. Finally, the journey relates to the work as a whole as it involved the theme of powerful maternal figures and bees. Once Lily was introduced to her maternal figures, she changed significantly as a queen less colony changes with a new queen. In addition, her journey of acquiring clues to find out about her mother is similar to a bee’s journey of acquiring nectar for honey. Lily’s journey of discovery and love proves that seemingly simple journeys can have significant changes waiting to be discovered. If the effort to take such journeys is performed, one will be greatly changed, usually for the better.