Character Analysis of Lily Owen in "The Secret Life of Bees"

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  913 Words
Date:  2022-05-09

The Secret Life of Bees is a novel by Sue Monk Kidd. The novel mainly tells the story of Lily Owens a 14-year -old girl from South Carolina whereby her life has been shaped around the blurred memory after the killing of her mother since she believes that she shot her mother. Lily was then taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduces her to their mesmerizing world of honey and bees as well as Black Madonna. The novel presents the maturation and development of Lily Owen who is a central character. Lily acts as the narrator and the protagonist in the novel. This essay analyzes the three main character traits of Lily Owen which are her longing for maternal love, her determination, and her maturity.

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In the novel, Lily Owen portrays a character trait of determination. After her fourteenth birthday, Lily can find a mysterious font of confidence. This was after she had seen Rosaleen confronting a group of racist men in Sylvan (Kidd 129). Lily's determination forces her to search out any remaining traces of her mother. Lily was determined to Save Rosaleen from the hands of the racists. Lily did not know how dangerous racism was in South Carolina and after T. Ray tells her that Rosaleen is likely to die at the hands of the racists, Lily does not take even time to think about saving Rosaleen (Kidd 72). Lily was determined to escape the abusive and unpleasant home life that she was living in and go searching for her mother's past and therefore the confident that she had gained helped her.

Lily greatly longed for love which she does not get from her father. Lily's father is brutal since he beats, and abuses Lily. Lily goes to the extent of risking her freedom and life by breaking Rosaleen out of jail due to her deep urge of having someone to love her. She tries to find a link to her dead mother by going to Tiburon, South Carolina despite not knowing why, when and when Deborah had passed through Tiburon and all she knew was that she was once there. Lily says "This is what I know about myself. She was all I wanted, and I took her away" (Kidd 8). In the novel, Lily develops a sense of absurd which shields her from the pain of lack of parental love. Lily muses that most children have a parent who does not love them and wonders why she needs two parents. Lily feels the urge to be with her mother and as well as the feeling of connecting with other human beings. Lily's desire to experience maternal love is evident in the novel when she imagines her mother doing the ideal things mothers usually do romantically such as brushing her hair. In the novel, Lily says "She had spent her life imagining the way her mother would have loved her "(Kidd 198).Through Zach and August Lily starts to find loving connections towards people who treat her right. Lily meets a black boy named Zach who she falls in love with. .Rosaleen can shower Lily with love and knows when something is important to love in the novel Rosaleen tells Lily, "Here you go. Happy Birthday" (Kidd 28).Just like most mothers would do Rosaleen can tell when Lily is sad or in pain.

In the novel, Lily portrays a great degree of maturity. Lily matures into a young woman over the course of the novel and ends up being part of a supportive community. She learns things about herself and develops a character that is more positive. Through Zach and August Lily can improve on her maturity since she is inspired by Zach to be more sensitive, and August inspires her to be more introspective. Lily shows her maturity to understand that it was not the fault of her mother after she had learned about her mother abandoning her. Lily is mature enough to process the feelings of anger, guilt, and confusion as well as love her complex and flawed mother. This acts as evidence of Lily's maturation whereby she can love without blame or guilt. Lily can confront her father who is also a sign of her maturity. Lily's maturity enables her to progress despite her father's inhumanity. Lily is mature enough to forgive herself and her mother since all her life she has been accusing herself and torturing herself mentally because of her mother's death. The final step in Lily's growing into a young woman who believes in her worth and can love others and therefore able to see the viewpoint of his father. Lily was able to see that the death of Deborah was the cause her father's anger and bitterness.


In conclusion after leaving home Lily was able to discover various qualities. Lily's sense of humor assist her to survive and understand about her yearning for her mother better and her ability to forgive. Through Lily being able to forgive her mother, we learn about the power of forgiveness since after that Lily develops, and become independent. Through Lily we are able to learn about the love, racism and community within the Sylvan and Tiburon communities. Lily helps us to learn about the importance of developing female-centric communities. Lily learns to love herself as well as to love others. Through Lily we are able to learn that no one is perfect.

Works Cited

Kidd, Sue M. The Secret Life of Bees. Tinder P, 2015.

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Character Analysis of Lily Owen in "The Secret Life of Bees". (2022, May 09). Retrieved from

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