In the The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, provide specific examples from the book (provide the quote and the scene) that reflect racism, and explain them.   

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kjtracy eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Racism in the deep South is a major theme throughout The Secret Life of Bees, so there are many notable scenes that reflect racism. One of the most notable scenes comes towards the end of the book on page 209 when Lily is pondering why races have to exist at all:

"Up until then I’d thought that white people and colored people getting along was the big aim, but after that I decided everybody being colorless together was a better plan."

In this quote, Lily is lamenting the division that makes people like local police officer Eddie Hazelwurst think that people of different races don't belong together. She has seen so much racism that she begins to question whether differences like race are worth all the trouble they cause.

Another example can be found on page 154 of the book when Lily says,

"It washed over me for the first time in my life how much importance the world had ascribed to skin pigment, how lately it seemed that skin pigment was the sun and everything else in the universe was the orbiting planets."

In this quote, she is describing how weary she has become of the world's fixation on such a superficial attribute as race. As a young person, Lily is innocent enough to view race as a skin-deep attribute, literally a matter of differences in pigmentation, while the adults and even the other children around her see it as a defining trait.

Another quote that encapsulates the author's view on racism is, "We can't think of changing our skin color. Change the world—that's how we gotta think.”

In this important quote, Lily's friend is describing the fact that race itself is not what needs to be changed, but rather the racism in the world that turns race into a justification for treating people poorly. Each of these quotes illustrates a progression in Lily's understanding of racism throughout the book.

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The Secret Life of Bees

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