What quote(s) represents the climax of The Secret Life of Bees?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The climax of this great novel for me comes in Chapter 12, which is when Lily and August finally have a long-overdue conversation about Lily's mother, Deborah, and how August knew her. Of course, looking at the novel as a whole, it is clear that Lily has been on a journey throughout the novel, looking for a mother-figure, escape and a confessor. In August, she has found all fo these things and now finally Lily is ready to hear about the truth regarding her mother and what she did. August in the conversation that she has with Lily both listens and tells her the painful truth. The way that this is the climax of the novel is indicated by a number of statements. First of all, when she walks up to August's room, she ignores the Daughters, telling the reader that:

I hated to be rude, but I found I couldn't answer, couldn't speak a word of idle talk. I wanted to know about my mother. I didn't care about anything else.

The climax is indicated by Lily's burning desire for knowledge about her mother. Having spent so long in the novel avoiding the truth and knowledge concerning Deborah, the climax is indicated by Lily's willingness to discover the truth.

Secondly, the climax is indicated by Lily's feelings when August enters her room. Her initial response foreshadows the way that the truth will hurt Lily:

I had a desire to bolt past her through the door, dive out the window. You don't have to do this, I told myself, but the wanting rose up. I had to know.

Again, the desire to find out once and for all is evident, but at the same time this is coupled with the fear of what this discovery might bring with it. These two quotes serve to signal to the reader that the climax is about to occur.

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