What are some metaphors in The Secret Life of Bees?

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I am assuming you want to know about some of the metaphors used in The Secret Life of Bees. A metaphor is a way of explaining something in terms of something else, so if I say "Her smile was sunshine," my listener understands that someone's smile is not actual sunshine, but that it shared some attribute that sunshine has, for example, warmth.  The book is filled with many metaphors, so I am going to offer just a sampling of them. 

In Chapter One, we see Lily described metaphorically as she describes the relationship she has with Rosaleen. She says that Rosaleen has never had her own children so Lily is "her pet guinea pig" (2).  This is a metaphor.  Of course Lily is not a guinea pig!  What she wants to convey is that Rosaleen is experimenting on her, since she has no experience raising children. 

Also in Chapter One, Lily shares a conversation with her father, T. Ray, in which she tells him about the bees she has heard. His response is to say they must have flown out of "that cuckoo clock you call a brain"(5). This is a metaphor, since Lily's brain is hardly a cuckoo clock. This is meant to tell us that T. Ray thinks Lily is insane.  

In Chapter Four, when Lily and Rosaleen get settled in with the Boatwright sisters, Lily goes off on her own to explore a bit, and describes beehives off in the distance, "the tops of them postage stamps of white shine" (79). She finds ferns in the woods, with "blue-green feathers" (80).  For these metaphors, we are meant to understand that the beehives resembled postage stamps and that the leaves of the ferns looked like feathers.

I do not think there is one chapter in this book that does not have at least one metaphor.  See if you can find another chapter and pick out a few, too. 

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The Secret Life of Bees

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