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The Secret Life of Bees

by Sue Monk Kidd

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What is the structure of the novel "The Secret Life of Bees"?

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The Secret Life of Bees has a linear structure. This means that the action in a story follows a straight chronological line.  There are sections in which we learn about the past, which is central to the story's plot, but we see the past through the "present" narration of Lily, Rosaleen, and August. The action of the book includes many instances of rising action and falling action and many instances of conflict and resolution.  What is the central conflict of the book?  People might disagree about this. One important conflict that gets resolved is Lily's understanding of her mother.  Another is her struggle to mature.  Certainly both are connected. Rosaleen's voting rights create a conflict as well, and that conflict, as well as Lily's need to "find" her mother, both kick off the entire plot. I had one student who felt that the conflict of the story emerged from lies, which I thought was a valuable and interesting opinion. If you want to look at the bigger picture, the central conflict might be the struggle for freedom.

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