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Great question! Each chaper in "The Srecret Life of Bees," has a quote from other areas of literature. Many of these quotes come from a book called, "Queen Bee Must Die and Other Affairs of Bees And Men," by William Longgood
There are also many books mentioned in The Secret Life of Bees. Lily loves to read, and knows of many authors and titles which come up at some point in the novel. When Lily gets to the pink house, she also finds that August is very intelligent and well read.
When Lily works out on the in peach stand, she mentions reading Lost Horizon (a book by James Hilton). T Ray does not approve of her reading, and she can’t even sneak books out to the peach stand after a neighbor mentions that she’s reading out there.
Lily also makes reference to Ralph Waldo Emerson, who she reads in school, and afterwards is inspired to write her own philosophy of life.
Even T. Ray makes reference to a few authors, probably because Lily has read them. T. Ray, who is against reading, mistakenly calls William Shakespeare “Julius Shakespeare” and Lily knows enough not to correct him because he’ll be mad. He also refers to Emily Dickinson as “Miss Emily-Big-Head-Diction.”
In August’s room, Lily comes across a collection of titles that are mostly about beekeeping, The Advanced Language of Beekeeping, Apiary Science, Bee Pollination, Bulfinch’s Age of Fable, The Myths of Greece, The Cultivation of Honey, Bee Legends Around the World, and Mary Through the Ages.
There is a strong link to Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn. In Huckleberry Finn, there are a young, white male and an older, African-American male, and in The Secret Life of Bees, there are a young, white female and an older, African-American female. In each book, the characters are on a journey seeking freedom, and water is a powerful symbol: in Huckleberry Finn, the Mississippi River, and in The Secret Life of Bees, many water symbols, for example, a creek that Lily and Rosaleen cross, the drowning of May in a river, and a water fight in which Lily and June break the barrier of race and become friends. Both take place in the rural South during times of great national turmoil, both racial and political.
The Secret Life of Bees not only connects with the books that are quoted at the beginning of each chapter, but they also connect through motifs and archetypes to fairytales. For example The Secret Life of Bees can be connected back to "Little Snow White" by the Brothers Grimm. Lily and Snow are the daughter virgin, both have a terrible parent, an absent parent, they go through abandonment, have a woods/orchard they escape to, both run away, have helpers, they are both reborn, and have a happily ever after...I'm not sure if that's what you were looking for. But fairytales are the easiest and most common thing to link modern stories back to..
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