I need help with an essay about documenting the injustices and inequalities in The Secret Life of Bees along with who has the power and how it is used.
This book concerns the injustices and inequalities of racism during the period in which this book is set, and it is clear that there are a number of incidents that clearly reveal the inequalities between blacks and whites in society. Consider for example the men who harass Rosaleen and then also the way that Zach is arrested. Even at the end of the book, the author is clear that racism is something that has not vanished with the onset of a happy ending, as Lily reveals she is called a "nigger lover" by people at her school for being friends with Zach. However, what is most interesting about the injustices and inequalities in this novel is the way that Lily herself, during the course of the novel, is shown to confront her own racist beliefs and see them as erroneous. At the beginning of the novel, for example, the only black person she knows is Rosaleen, and she assumes that all African Americans are lacking in education and refinement like her. However, this view is massively challenged when she meets August, and is forced to see that African Americans are humans just like the whites. For an example of Lily's prejudiced beliefs, consider the following exchange she has with Zach:
“I’ve just never heard of a Negro lawyer, that’s all. You’ve got to hear of these things before you can imagine them.”
“Bullshit. You gotta imagine what’s never been.”
Lily shows the way that she bears the racist stereotypes of her time and her upbringing by being unable to imagine Zach becoming a lawyer. At the beginning of the novel she begins life in a world where injustices and inequalities are perpetrated against African Americans, with whites being the ones who hold power. By the end of the novel she has challenged her own racist beliefs and has seen an example of African Americans (and what is more, female African Americans) successfully opposing the power of a white man in the form of her father. There is therefore a shift in the imbalance of power during the novel, and although racism is still very much evident, this points towards the weaknesses of racism and the way that it can be successfully opposed through community and unity.