In chapter three of The Secret Life of Bees how does racial segregation manifest itself? Please outline these ways.

Expert Answers
slchanmo1885 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Racial segregation manifests in this chapter in a few ways. There is the racism that the South Carolina society exhibits, such as not letting black people into stores or hotels. Then there is also Lily’s ingrained racism, her acceptance of the way things are.

Rosaleen explains to Lily that they couldn’t stay in a hotel, “Lily child, there ain’t gonna be any place that will take a colored woman. I don’t care if she’s the Virgin Mary, nobody’s letting her stay if she’s colored” (60). This quote exemplifies Lily’s naivete – she thinks the Civil Rights Act makes it so people will be integrated easily, but Rosaleen knows the truth of the matter, which she just so rudely experienced back in Sylvan, that people won’t let the changes come easily and without a fight. In the Frogmore Stew General store, Lily first sees the Black Madonna honey, and the store owner explains that “a lot of folks won’t buy it ‘cause it’s got the Virgin Mary pictured as a colored woman” (64). Lily, having gone in the store alone (probably knowing that Rosaleen would not be served) is also in a small way exhibiting some of her own ingrained racism by accepting segregation and not even trying to have Rosaleen enter the store.

As they walk through the town, there are also signs on display that illustrate the town’s political leanings. “Goldwater for President” and “Affirmation Vietnam” signs hang in the windows, showing that this is a very conservative town. Goldwater ran against Lyndon Johnson, and Goldwater was the Republican candidate. He opposed the Civil Rights Act, which shows that the town of Tiburon is against segregation if they support Goldwater.

Another instance of evidence of racial segregation are the newspaper stories covering Malcom X and a hotel that closed rather than integrate.


Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are at least three instances of racial discrimation in the third chapter.  As Lily and Rosaleen are traveling, Rosaleen explains to Lily that she will not be able to stay at any motel because she is "colored." Then Lily enters Frogmore Stew General Store on her own because Rosaleen is not likely to be served there, for the same reason. At the very end of the chapter, when Lily purchases a newspaper to see if she and Rosaleen are "wanted," she sees a report of

...a motel in Jackson, that closed down rather than accept Negro guests...(66).

Read the study guide:
The Secret Life of Bees

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question