Explain how is Lily a dynamic character in The Secret Life of Bees? 

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clairewait eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The definition of a dynamic character is one who changes throughout the course of the plot.  Lily is definitely a dynamic character.  We meet her, the narrator of her own story, as an awkward, insecure, young-for-her-age 14 year old.  She is haunted by the death of her mother and fears her father.  Needless to say, without a direct maternal figure in her life and overpowered by a very brutish and violent father, she has been living on survival mode.  What she lacks femininity - she more than makes up for in the awareness that she is growing up and changing, both physically and emotionally.  This only heightens her insecurity.

Then she leaves home.  Such a drastic decision inevitably would change anyone.  In search of answers to her mother's death (and life) she meets August Boatwright and "family."  She introspectively begins to develop a keener sense of self and maturity, begins to open up to those around her emotionally (for perhaps the first time in her life), and more than anything, allows others to take care of her.  And as Lily is nutured by this home and its inhabitants in ways only women (and mothers) can provide - she finds within herself a sense of maternal nurturing that she never knew she had.  Essentially, in the course of a relatively short period of time, Lily turns into a woman.  She develops a capacity to love herself and others that she never knew before.

d7-ywn | Student

Lily is depicted as a dynamic character who undergoes through various psychological transformations. At the beginning of the novel, we come across a naive young lady who is trying to come into terms with the loss of her mother (whom she supposedly killed). She is not in good terms with her father because she considers him neglective and irresponsible. As a four-year old, her thinking is shaped by the comfort she derives from those around her. She develops hatred for her father and lives with this conviction since the death of her mother. However, as time goes by, she discovers that she harbors more potential to change her life and this culminates in her running away with the Rosaleen. This indicates a change of thinking and judgement. She exhibits higher mental strength and decisiveness and sticks to her decision throughout the calamities that ensue including being jailed after an altercation with a group of racists. This change of approach unleashes a totally different character who is now relentlessly involved in fighting back and defining her future.

Secondly, Lily becomes more independent by detaching herself from the shackles of a shattered past. She realizes that by allowing her to be tied to the dark past of torture and the murder of her mother, the future would even be harder. She breaks the child-parent association by staying away from her abusive father. She embarks on a mission to find the truth by herself; not only by questioning the past but also entering new relationships that supposedly add more value to her life (Kidd, 17). She leans on Rosaleen’s shoulder and with time befriends Zach. These developments are a consequence of more mental and physical independence that Lily envisages and deems necessary for her future. Independence can also be seen in the way she takes charge of her life and takes her father to task with the ultimate aim of getting to the death of her mother.

Another notable change in Lily that is evident in her life is spiritualism. In her early age, she is depicted as a young and innocent girl whose life revolves around the happenings of her life. Later as she develops and moves into deeper evaluation of her life, she becomes more religious and at some point is seen seeking the intervention of God’s “original idea of paradise” (Kidd, 23). This comes about as a result of the suffering she underwent under her father. In the same context, spiritualism leads her into forming new bonds with people whom she terms as “Godly and loving”. Therefore, in entirety, Lily becomes more religious with time perhaps with the conviction that God had a role to play in constituting a better future.

The changes that Lily underwent - especially after eloping with Rosaleen - had a major impact on her life and the subsequent plot. The major themes become more visible through these changes and the justification of her actions is also down to the transformation. She adds more to the symbolism and she can be termed as the most valuable asset that the author used to communicate with readers.

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The Secret Life of Bees

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