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The Secret Life of Bees is filled with examples of prejudice in thought and deed. It is difficult to find a chapter in which there is not some evidence of how prejudiced the time and place of this book is.
One of the most striking incidents is in Chapter 2, when Lily and Rosaleen are taken to the police station, and the three card-playing men follow them to the police station. One of the three men attacks Rosaleen with a flashlight, "smashing it into Rosaleen's forehead" (35). The police officer, Gaston, does nothing to stop this, and clearly, this is something that would not have happened had Rosaleen been white.
A second "behavior" that strongly points up the prejudice of the times occurs in Chapter 2, when we are shown that Sylvan Memorial Hospital has "one wing for whites and one for blacks" (45). This was the norm in the south in those days, with not only segregated hospitals, but also separate bathrooms and even drinking fountains.
In Chapter 3, when Lily and Rosaleen get to the Frogmore Stew General Store, Lily and Rosaleen cannot go in the store together because Rosaleen is black. She wants some snuff, but Lily must purchase it for her. It is clear that black patrons may not shop there.
Other examples include the story of May, June's attitude toward white people, and what happens to Zach, Lily's new friend. It is important to understand what those times were like, so we can all make sure this never happens again.
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