How does Lily's quest to find out about her mother turn into a quest to discover her inner self in The Secret Life of Bees?

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anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lily's mother died when Lily was only four or five. She has flashbacks to the night her mother was shot, and, at times, she sees herself holding the gun. Other times, either her mother or her father is holding the gun. As Lily enters adolescence with no close motherly figure in her life, her inner turmoil reaches a turning point. Her father will not speak to Lily of the events surrounding her mom's death. As a matter of fact, her father speaks to her rarely, and only then to threaten punishment or criticize. After Lily runs away with Rosaleen, her father's housekeeper, she seeks to find the source of Black Madonna honey, the only reference she has to her mother's past. After finding the beekeepers the honey refers to, Lily lives in a household of women, each with their own personal secrets. Lily learns to understand the sorrows of others and begins to reconcile the different perspectives the night her mother died. She learns to love Zach, and begins to have insights into her father's persona, learning to forgive and accept other's short-comings.

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The Secret Life of Bees

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