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.

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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