illustration of the back of main character Lily Owens's head with a honeycomb background

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd
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What effect does Black Mary have on Lily's maturation/development in The Secret Life of Bees?      

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Black Mary, or "our Lady of Chains" had once been a figurehead on a ship. It survived and washed ashore where a local group of people took it in and made it the basis of their religion. Black referred to the weathering of the wood, which made it all the more symbolic to those African-Americans who rescued the statue from the sea. Both the statue and the worshipers had much in common. Both survived the harshness of life and its conditions. Lily was drawn to the statue as a source of hope and faith, but did not feel she had the right to touch the sacred statue. Mary gave Lily the outlet for prayer and guidance in her own troubled past. As she came to terms with those issues, Mary became the inspiration for forging ahead with life and forgiving the past.

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