Please explain the following quote from The Secret Life of Bees."We were preserving Our Lady and I was content-for the first time since I’d learned about my mother-to be doing what I was doing."

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The quote comes from Chapter Thirteen, and comes as part of the Mary Day celebration when the sisters and their friends annoint their statue of the Black Madonna with honey to preserve it and as part of a remembrance of her life and trials. As the women annoint the statue with honey and rub it into the wood, Lily, having had a very difficult conversation with August the night before about her mother and how her life intertwined with that of August, now seems to have reached a stage in her life when she is happy with herself and what she is doing. A key element to focus on in the quote is the way that Lily describes herself as being "content" for the "first time since I learnt about my mother." Having talked to August, and then having expressed her anger and rage at the way that her mother deserted her, she now seems to have gained a level of peace and contentment. This is therefore a key section of the novel with regards to the character development of Lily.

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