How were Rosaleen and Lily shown having a good relationship in the book The Secret Life of Bees?

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anthonda49 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Since Lily's mother supposed deserted her daughter at an early age, Rosaleen was the only female influence in Lily's life. At this time in adolescence, puberty becomes an overwhelming issue. Rosaleen helps Lily adapt to adulthood and becomes her only source of information. Rosaleen is Lily's only friend. The young girl escorts Rosaleen to register to vote.  Lily witnesses racial hatred and Rosaleen's beating. Rescuing her from the jail,  Lily accompanies Rosaleen in her flight from the law. The two journey toward the only hints of the past that Lily has about her mother. At any time, the two of them could have gone their separate ways, but they clung to each other helping to bridge the uncertain world between blacks and whites, and abusive fathers and abused daughters.

Once arriving at the Boatwrights, Lily and Rosaleen share the quarters in the honey business shed. Over time, each finds her own place in the sisters' home. Rosaleen remains Lily's confidant and later helps repair the fragmented memories of the frightened five year old Lily whose memories of her mother's shooting haunt her.

Megan Clauhs eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rosaleen and Lily's friendship is established early on in the book and plays a key role throughout. Lily lost her mother at a young age and has essentially been raised by Rosaleen. The two of them are shown helping each other because they find a sort of freedom with one another; Rosaleen is the only adult in town who is kind to Lily, and Lily does not mistreat Rosaleen because of her skin color. When Rosaleen is assaulted by the racist men in town, Lily tries to fight them. Her father leaves her in no doubt as to how much trouble she is in, but this does not stop her from doing what's right by her friend. Lily and Rosaleen run away, and despite Rosaleen's complaining, she has every opportunity to leave Lily's side but remains by her anyway.

By the end of the book, Lily and Rosaleen have become an uncontested part of the Boatwright family, and Lily considers Rosaleen one of her three mothers.

robinsonjones92 | Student

While much of Lily and Rosaleen's relationship can be identified by direct characterization, a deeper look into Lily's actions reveals some of her feelings toward Rosaleen. When Lily makes the decision to run away from home, Rosaleen is still in the hospital. Lily makes sure to get Rosaleen before leaving and never leaves her behind, even when Lily becomes frustrated or upset with her. This shows us that Lily feels a deep attachment to Rosaleen and understands the importance of having such a confidant and motherly figure in her life.

With time, the Boatwright sisters begin to serve as mother roles to Lily, each in their own way. However, despite having them in her life, Lily's need for Rosaleen does not whither away. Additionally, in the darkest moments of the novel, Lily relies on Rosaleen for comfort and guidance. Rosaleen keeps Lily's secrets, despite the risk associated with them and she looks out for Lily's well-being, even when it goes unnoticed.

At the end of the novel, we see the last example of Lily's loyalty to Rosaleen. TRay comes to the Boatwright house to take Lily back with him. After she refuses to leave, he gives up the fight for her but tells Rosaleen to leave with him. Knowing that Rosaleen's life is much better at the Boatwright house, Lily tells TRay that Rosaleen will also be staying with her and her new-found family. This is the ultimate display of love and dedication to her mentor and friend.

storygemsuz | Student

In the novel, The Secret Life of Bees, Sue Monk Kidd establishes the relationship between Lily and Rosaleen from the very start. Rosaleen is the first character Lily mentions in Chapter One while she is waiting for the bees to come. Structurally, this marks her out as more significant, at this point in her life, than Lily's father, T. Ray.

Rosaleen is Lily's confidant and protector in a home which is lonely and abusive at times. Though their relationship has it's ups and downs, as most relationships do, we can see the strength of the partnership the two develop at a number of points throughout the novel.

At the beginning of the novel, when Lily is forced to kneel on the grits, it is Rosaleen who shows concern for her the following day. It is also Rosaleen who brings a cake with fourteen candles on it to celebrate Lily's birthday.

Lily asserts that sometimes she 'purely hates' Rosaleen because she doesn't understand her desire to fit in with all the other girls. However, Lily's actions don't back up this claim. The young girl's concern is clear when she hears of Rosaleen's plan to vote. She begs to accompany her to the polling station, winds up in jail beside her, lies to the preacher about what happened, and finally helps her to escape from hospital.

Though they have a fight on their first evening after escaping, it is short lived and they both apologise for what has happened. This would have been the logical place where they could have gone their separate ways, but the relationship between Lily & Rosaleen is too strong for this to have happened.

Their relationship continues to strengthen and develop overtime, but their good relationship is founded on the early days when Rosaleen cared for Lily after her mother died. The bond that was created then is unbreakable.


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The Secret Life of Bees

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