Why did T.Ray feel betrayed when Deborah left him?

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tmcquade eNotes educator| Certified Educator

T. Ray truly loved Deborah.  Lily doesn't realize this until the end, but she finally sees that it's true when he shows up trying to take her home, and for the first time feels sympathy toward her father.  All her life, she has seen her father as a mean, hateful, spiteful man and has blamed him in some way for her mother being gone.  Now, she recalls August's words: "People can start out one way, and by the time life gets through with them they end up completely different.  I don't doubt he started off loving your mother.  In fact, I think he worshiped her" (Kidd 293).

T. Ray expected Deborah to be his committed partner and loving wife.  When she left, a gaping hole filled his life, and while Lily has long recognized the hole in her own life, "never once did (she) think what he'd lost or how it might've changed him" (293).  T. Ray found himself with a daughter he didn't know how to care for, a feeling of shame in his community for having his wife desert him, a sense of confusion and loneliness as a result of her leaving, and a lack of knowledge about where to look to find her.

When he finds Lily and discovers THIS is where his wife ran to when she left him, he temporarily loses his ability to think straight.  He sees Lily as Deborah, a fact compounded by the fact she is wearing the pin he once gave to Deborah, and he is determined this time to bring her back home.  He even calls Lily by her mother's name - until she finally, for the first time in a long time, calls him "daddy," and he snaps out of it.

Lily now recognizes how her father has suffered.  She sees him "crazy with anguish, reliving a pain he'd kept locked up all this time, and now that it was loose, it had overwhelmed him" (295).  She finally apoligizes for leaving him the way she did, knowing that must have only added to his pain, and when she looks into his eyes, she sees the "ocean of hurt" that she has helped to awaken (296).

When he tries to tell her, though, that he's taking her home, she uses the strength she has gained from living in a supportive environment, with people who love her, to tell him that she is "staying" and "not leaving" with him (296).  Still, having seen this different side of her father, she is able to forgive him for much of what has gone on between them, allowing her to move forward with her life. 

With August's words to her father, which give him a "face-saving way to hand (Lily) over," as well as his final words of "good riddance," Lily can now truly begin her new life without fear of her past or her lies coming back to haunt her (298).  She now has many "mothers" to fill that hole she lived with for so long, and she can live a life of hope, love, and community.

Read the study guide:
The Secret Life of Bees

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