Characteristics of the Main Protagonist in The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

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Lily is the main character, protagonist, and narrator of her story. She is a fourteen year old white teenager growing up in Sylvan, South Carolina. When Lily first appears, she is beaten down, and punished by her father. At age four, Lily killed her mother while witnessing an argument between her parents.

Lilly “personal” character qualities were discovered after she leaves home and goes on the run with her nanny, Rosaleen. Through her interactions with other people, Lily gains strength in her independence, understanding of prejudice, and loving connections in her life. Her sense of humor helps her survive, her ability to forgive, and her growth that takes her far beyond her father’s lack of humanity. Lily has always been beaten down and abused by her father, but witnessing Rosaleen’s being courageous made Lily felt courage, too. Her father physically beats her and punishes her barbaric at a very young age, and Lily felt like she has no choice but to take it. But after she witnesses the way Rosaleen faced the beatings and imprisonment. Lily was then “inspired” and that was what brought up the “independence” in her. She learns to lie convincingly and plans their escape to Tilburon. Defying her father and leaving home is something she’d never considered. She uses her intelligence, a brain that her father thought was a waste to educate, her father always believed that it was a waste for girls to read, but lily used that same brain to create a false past, learn a new set of skills, and reflect on the people and events she sees around her. In the end, she even finds the courage to stand up to her father once and for all.

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Racism is a big issue in South Carolina, when Lily was informed that Rosaleen will probably die due to the racism. Lily took no time to even question saving Rosaleen. Which shows how much caring Lily can be, but not only that it also shows how much she cares for Rosaleen. Lily always find a way to get herself throughout most situation, including her father’s abuse she talks about how many children always have a certain parent who doesn’t love them or show affection to them but wonders why must she have two?

I guess you can say she feels sad about the “problem’ she’s in but yet doesn’t really show it. Which shows how strong she can be, most part during the book, Lily mostly talked about how she longed to see her mother and how she also longed for her affection, and that how they’re something things only one’s mother could teach them. She reflects on the mother she allegedly killed and compares herself to her unknown mother, always coming up short. She imagines her mother romantically, doing things ideal mothers do, like brushing Lily’s hair.

One might say Lily felt “alone”. After Lily was shown some of her mother’s stuff by August. She finds the photo of her mother feeding her as a child, and all the longing and sadness of her life is contained in her reaction. Lily had connection to human who treated her like she’s a human being. Starting from the teacher who told her to pursue her dream to Rosaleen who “inspired” her and also Zach who gave her a journal, This were the set of people who gave her the courage she needed to stand up to her abusive father. By forgiving herself and her mother, Lily became a better person than her father. All her life, Lily has accused her life for her mother death and she was also a mad about her mother for leaving. But she founded a way to forgive both her mother and father. After doing that Lily then figured the reason between her father’s bitterness and anger. Lily tried reaching out to him but he couldn’t find a way in himself to forgive himself for all he did to Lily. Being able to see his viewpoint is the final step in Lily’s growing into a young woman who believes in her worth and can love others.

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