To what does Lily compare finding May's body?chapter ten

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Lorraine Caplan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lily compares May, as she lies in the river, to the Black Mary, also known as "Our Lady of the Chains."  She says,

This is the way Our Lady came washing up the river near Charleston...Look at her fingers, her hands. They are so precious (193).

If you recall the story of how Black Mary came to the Daughters of Mary, you may recall that she drifted ashore, a figurehead from a ship, which the slaves who found her worshiped. When she was taken away, she broke out of her chains.

Why exactly is Lily reminded of this story? On a literal level, of course, May does resemble a black female statue, but on a deeper level, May has broken free of her symbolic chains, the pain that she suffered when there was wrongdoing in the world.  On some level, May is finally free, as Our Lady of the Chains became free, too. 

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The Secret Life of Bees

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