black as could be, twisted like driftwood from being out in the
weather, her face a map of all the storms and journeys she’d been
through. Her right arm was raised as if she was pointing the way,
except her fingers were closed in a fist. It gave her a serious
look, like she could straighten you out if necessary.
In this quotation, from the beginning
of chapter four, Lily describes the black Mary statue. Lily has
just spotted it in the Boatwright house. She has yet to learn of
its significance, to experience its important role in the lives
of the Daughters of Mary, and to understand its place in the family
history of the Boatwright sisters. Rather, Lily simply yet viscerally
reacts to the statue’s material, color, and gesture. Immediately
she feels that the statue is able to see deep into her true self.
She believes that the statue is aware that she is lying to August
and June about where she has come from and why she has come to Tiburon.
Although she fears the statue, Lily also connects with Our Lady
of Chains and realizes that it has special powers.
These initial reactions help substantiate the role the
statue will later take as the Boatwrights’ central religious artifact,
which the Daughters of Mary pray to and which Lily goes to for guidance.
But, more important, Lily thinks of the statue as the embodiment
of a strong and defiant woman. So far, only Rosaleen has inspired
Lily to be more powerful and independent. Lily has never had any
other female role models, since her mother died when Lily was four
and she lived isolated with T. Ray. Arriving in Tiburon, Lily realizes
that she has the chance to act in any way she pleases, to become
the person she has always wanted to be—and she grows into a strong,
confident young woman through her experiences with the statue and with
beekeeping. Reacting to this statue in the way she does foreshadows
Lily’s eventual transformation. Readers see that Lily has the capacity
to become a powerful woman, because she is able to recognize and
feel magnetically pulled toward images of such a woman.