What are Lily's qualities in The Secret Life of Bees? I am trying to make a collage. What pictures might I use?

Expert Answers
Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Lily's overriding quality is that of being alone and feeling unnurtured as a result of her mother's early death. Her father's cruel ways don't help any to rectify these feelings. Lily is fourteen and beginning to feel the fluttering of romantic notions for Zach. This is an important quality: the awakening of reciprocal (shared) feelings. This is especially true in that her genuine family unhappiness causes her to be preoccupied with herself and therefore self-absorbed and thus not comprehending of other characters' difficulties. However this essentially unavoidable quality resulting from her particular hardships is counterbalanced by the revelation of her true inner qualities of courage and loyalty; these haven't been compromised by sorrow and mistreatment. Another important quality that attaches to Lily once she is in the mother-like care of August is the blooming of health and purpose gained from honey and from working out of doors with the bees. As she unfolds her tightened heart to the mysteries of the religion of Our Lady of Chains, Lily discovers a feminine nurturing spirit within herself that leads her to forgiveness: forgiveness of her felt guilt in her mother's death and forgiveness of her mother for leaving her alone and loveless so very early in life.

Collage images could be such as represent these qualities above: a young happy couple, a black mother-like woman and a white girl; a statue of the Mary Madonna; bees and beehives. You could also select a funeral casket; a swaddled baby; a cruel looking father; a self-absorbed uninvolved looking girl. You also can choose a black woman to represent the all-important Rosaleen; you could include an image of jail door bars; and an image of the Ku Klux Klan might be suitable. You must remember to include an image of a healthy happy girl outdoors, preferably with bees.

mkcapen1 | Student

In the book "The Secret Life of Bees" Lilly lived on a peach farm initially so having some peaches on the collage would be good.  She is a reader and is always reading books.  I would have some books on the collage.  Lilly is a motherless child being raised by an abusive father.  She longs for the mother she lost.  She identifies with a black Madonna figure she finds on a label.  I would put something that could represent her need for a mother's love and nurturing.  I would also have a picture of a black Madonna.

Lilly helps Rosaline to escape from the hospital.  She is an independent thinker and strong willed.  She is loving and kind.  When Lily goes to the Boatwright's bee farm, she becomes enchanted by the bees.  I would have bees on the collage. 

Lilly meets and develops a crush on Zack.  He is black and she is white something that is special because Lily does not hold the same lines as other southerners in regards to prejudice.  I would put a heart to represent her first awakening of love.

The relationship that she develops with the Boatwright’s sets her free from her father and helps her to find the family that she has always wanted.  I would use something to demonstrate her relationship with each of the women such as a wall with notes in it for Lilly helping the sister that is mentally ill.

Read the study guide:
The Secret Life of Bees

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