What are some discussion questions for The Secret Life of  Bees?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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There are so many great areas of discussion for this book, I hardly know where to begin! I am going to give you a list of ten discussion areas, based on the assumption that everyone has finished reading the entire book.

1. Why is T. Ray such a harsh father?  Is there anything in the story that explains his actions?

2. What is the significance of Lily's birthday?  Is her birthday a symbol in some way of what happens in the story?

3. What can we learn about the rights (and lack of rights) of African-Americans at that time and place by reading this book?

4. How does water play an important part in this story?  What scenes involve water, and what does water represent in some of these scenes?

5. What women in the story are "mothers" to Lily?

6. How are bees used in the story as symbols of people?

7. What does the figurehead of Mary represent?

8. Is there any foreshadowing in the story that tells us what is going to happen to May?

9. Does Lily change in any way over the course of the story?  What are some examples of important changes?

10. Should Lily stay with the Boatwright sisters? Why or why not?

I hope these are questions that generate lots of great discussion!

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