illustration of the back of main character Lily Owens's head with a honeycomb background

The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

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What does Lily do to ease the pain where her father is concerned?

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Lily longs for love, and wishes that T. Ray were more understanding of her. Because of T.Ray’s harsh parenting, Lily has developed a strong imagination and has also become an excellent liar, to the point where she can almost lie to herself. Lily can imagine different situations where she pictures T. Ray showing her love, like offering to get her the charm bracelet she wants for her birthday, when in reality he dismisses her. Lily has also learned to endure punishment, like kneeling on grits, and feels as though it’s a normal occurrence to experience such things. When Lily arrives at the pink house, she lies and says that both of her parents are dead. She is covering up insecurities about herself and in a way she really is an orphan, because T. Ray doesn’t act like a father. When Lily calls T. Ray on the phone in chapter 8 and then subsequently writes him the letter that she never sends, it is evident that she still has hope that T. Ray loves her. She wants to know that T. Ray loves her and wants her. There are so many things Lily has always wanted to say to T. Ray and could not say to his face, so she writes them in the letter in order to ease the pain and make herself feel better. Eventually Lily learns to let go of T. Ray, because he is damaged and cannot offer her love. She learns to find it in other places, and make a new family for herself. 

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