The Secret Life of Bees
Study Questions and Essay Topics
1. Describe Lily’s relationship with her mother, Deborah. What makes their relationship so complicated?
2. What is the significance of the female communities in the novel? How do they help Lily grow up?
3. In what ways does Sue Monk Kidd root The Secret Life of Bees in a specific time and place? How does this tie into Lily’s experience of coming-of-age?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Compare and contrast the ways in which Lily and Zach are restricted by their ethnicities.
2. In what ways does Lily change throughout the course of the novel? In the end, in what ways has she grown up? In what ways might she still be a child?
3. At the end of the novel, T. Ray decides to let Lily stay in Tiburon. Is this decision in keeping with his character? Why or why not?
4. Discuss the novel’s religious symbolism. Is The Secret Life of Bees a religious novel? Why or why not?
5. In what ways does Lily’s mother, Deborah, actually serve as Lily’s guardian angel? How does Deborah manage to help, teach, and love Lily, even though she died when Lily was small?
6. What is the significance of August’s discussion of “motherly love” with Lily? Does August practice what she preaches?
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