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In The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, when T-Ray shows up at August Boatwright's house in Tiburon, he is at first aggressive and sneering toward Lily, with...
...the fat grin of a man who has been rabbit hunting all day long and has just now found his prey backed up in a hollow log with no way out.
T-Ray makes it perfectly clear that...
I'm gonna take you out of here nice and quiet or kicking and screaming...
Lily is frightened. She is by herself when she opens the door; without knowing what else to do, she lets him in. T-Ray is rude and insulting. He seems very much in control of himself and is relatively clear about plans with regard to Lily until he sees the pin she is wearing on her shirt.
Suddenly he stopped rocking, and that nauseating smile faded off his mouth. He was staring at my shoulder with his eyes squinted almost to the closed position. I looked down to see what had grabbed his attention and realized he was staring at the whale pin on my shirt.
This is the first indication that T-Ray is no longer in control of himself or the situation. He demands to know where Lily got the pin, and when she says August gave it to her, he calls her a liar.
"I'm not lying. [August] gave it to me. She said it belonged to—" I was afraid to say it. He didn't know anything about August and my mother.
The fact that the pin grabs T-Ray's attention is telling. However, we soon learn the importance of the piece to T-Ray: and in doing so, we can infer that the memory brings him pain:
His upper lip had gone white, the way it did when he was badly upset. "I gave that pin to your mother on her twenty-second birthday..."
Lily then explains how she came to have the pin:
This is where my mother came when she ran away from us. August said she was wearing it the day she got here.
When T-Ray imagines his dead wife in that room, sitting in the furniture in front of him, walking on the same rug where he now sits...
His chin quivered slightly, and for the first time it hit me how much he must've loved her, but never once did I think what he'd lost or how it must've changed him.
Lily then recalls what August said to her, and this quote also alludes to what T-Ray has gone through in attempting to cope with the loss of his wife:
People can start out one way, and by the time life gets through with them they end up completely different. I don't doubt he started off loving your mother. In fact, I think he worshiped her.
These quotes from the novel indicate how hard it was for T-Ray to lose his wife, and go on without her. The fact that his attitude changes and a "pinched" look on his face appears, show that memories—and her loss—are hard for T-Ray to handle.
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