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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How is Lily in The Secret Life of Bees influenced by others?

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In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees, Lily Owens is influenced both positively and negatively by many other characters. Let's do some brainstorming of points you might include in your essay.

First, you should spend a paragraph discussing how Lily has been influenced by her mother. This is probably one of the strongest influences in her life even though her mother died when Lily was four. Lily feels a range of curiosity, resentment, and guilt when it comes to her mother, and this has very much shaped her as she grows up. You should discuss how Lily's mother is the one who essentially sets Lily on the path of discovery that she takes in the novel.

You might also spend some time talking about how Lily is influenced by other people in her home. Her father is certainly a negative influence in her life, but Lily learns how to stand up to him. Rosaleen is another strong influence, this one positive, for she has become like another mother to Lily, and it is the attack on her that spurs Lily to start her journey.

Finally, you should write a paragraph on the influence that the Boatwright sisters and Zach have on Lily. There are both positive and negative elements here. Lily develops feelings for Zach, but he rejects her because of their different races. August gives Lily important truths about her mother that Lily must process and cope with. May ends up drowning herself, showing Lily what despair looks like.

Your first paragraph should be an introduction with a hook to catch your readers' attention and a thesis statement that presents your claim. Your final paragraph, your conclusion, should restate your thesis and leave your readers with a point to ponder.

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