The Secret Life of Bees Character AnalysisGet Your
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Characterization Analysis Considerations |Character Name: |Character Name: |Character Name: | | |Lily |Rosaleen Daise |May Boatwright | |Behavior |Independent, determined, |Stands up for herself, believes in |Very emotional, sensitive to the | | |strong-willed, damaged, expressive,|equal rights, strong-minded, |pain of others, depressed, | | |searches for her happiness and a |outspoken, uncensored, faces |kind-hearted, loving, child-like. | | |maternal love. She overcomes her |discrimination head on. | | |abuse through her own maturation | | | | |and through acceptance and love she| | | | |receives by the Boatwright women | | | |Appearance |In the beginning, she looks |In the beginning, she dresses as a |She dresses like a child and | | |unweathy, uncared for, dirty and |colored maid, hides her abuse. |carries herself as a playful, silly| | |unfeminine. Later on at the honey |Later on in the film she dresses |schoolgirl would.
She also cries | | |house her appearance becomes more |nice and becomes happier and |and gets sad like a child would | | |feminine when she gets feelings for|stronger with the other women by |like she doesn’t understand the | | |Zach and starts wearing dresses and|her side. |world the way an adult does and | | |asks May to do her hair. | |numbs themselves to it. | |Dialogue |She stands up to those she feels |Rosaleen says what she feels even |“Sometimes not feeling is the only | | |are wrong and speaks down to people|if she knows that it could cost her|way you can survive. ” May | | |older than her, showing a sense of |her life.
She tells Lily, |understands that she is unable to | | |confidence in her beliefs and |“Apologizing is just another way of|not hide her feelings and this | | |feelings and demands them to be |dying. ” She would rather be dead |ultimately leads to her suicide. | | |heard. |than let the white men win. | | |Feelings |She is damaged by her father’s |She feels like the colored people |May feels her emotions and the | | |abuse and her mother’s abandonment. |are so close to having rights but |emotions of everyone around her.
It| | |She has no racial bias for colored |the whites still are able to |weighs heavy on her until it drowns| | |people; she treats them as her |repress them even though going to |her and she cannot take the pain | | |equal and loves them. Lily feels |register to vote is allowed she is |anymore. She is too weak to carry | | |unloved until she runs away to the |questioned and beat for standing up|it all and tries to release some of| | |Boatwright’s house were she finds |for herself.
She is fed up with the|her sadness in the wall but it | | |the love and care she missed from |injustice the colored people face |becomes too much when Zach is taken| | |her mother. |and finds hope and security when |and she realizes she isn’t strong | | | |she comes to live with the |enough. | | | |Boatwright’s. | | |Director’s/Writer’s Craft |Long shots and medium shots, deep |Long shots and medium shots, deep |Long shots and medium shots, deep | |(See Film Terminology) |focus, high angle and eye level, |focus, high angle and eye evel, |focus, high angle and eye level, | | |diagetic and nondiegetic (by Lily’s|diagetic and nondiegetic (by Lily’s|diagetic and nondiegetic (by Lily’s| | |narration), lots of low, key in the|narration), lots of low, key in the|narration), lots of low, key in the| | |woods, theater, by the wall and |woods, theater, by the wall and |woods, theater, by the wall and | | |neutral lighting, zoom camera |neutral lighting, zoom camera |neutral lighting, zoom camera | | |movement, and cut techniques. |movement, and cut techniques. |movement, and cut techniques. | |The Setting’s Effects on the |The setting places her in a time of|The setting play a crucial role for|The setting affects May a great | |Character (Setting includes time, |racial bias but she never once |Rosaleen because she is a very |deal because she is too emotional | |place, & attitudes) |falters from her feelings of |strong person and demanding of |of a person and cannot survive in | | |equality among colored people.
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She |equal rights and the time she is |this time of racial bias and | | |doesn’t hold back her feelings for |living she is being held down. She |hatred. She is too weak to build a | | |Zach even those she knows they are |struggles to make her voice heard |barrier for her emotions and her | | |inappropriate for the time she is |which she ultimately does at the |wall proves to be not strong enough| | |in. |end of the film by becoming a |to withstand the pain she feels for| | | |registered voter. |others sufferings. |
Author: Brandon Johnson
The Secret Life of Bees Character Analysis
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Lily Melissa Owens - The novel’s protagonist and narrator. Lily is a fourteen-year-old white girl born on the Fourth of July in 1950. When she was four, she accidentally killed her mother, Deborah. Along with her abusive father, T. Ray, whom she cannot call “Daddy,” she lives on a peach farm in rural South Carolina. Isolated and insecure, Lily fears that she lacks all femininity and imagines that her mother is her guardian angel, watching over and loving her from beyond. Lily loves and trusts Rosaleen, a black housekeeper who helped raise her, and she finds the racism so prevalent in the south confusing. Over the course of the novel, she grows into a loved and loving young woman, who sees beyond skin color. Lily’s most prized possessions are a few things of her mother’s she found in her father’s attic: a picture of Deborah, a wooden picture of a black Mary, and a pair of white gloves. She loves to write and hopes to one day become a writer. Late in the novel, she finds a close friend and stand-in mother in August Boatwright and her sisters, June and May. In addition, her femininity blooms when she realizes her attraction to Zach, a young black man who helps out on the Boatwright farm. Lily also finds herself enchanted by bees, first by those living inside the walls of her room and later by those on August’s farm.
Read an in-depth analysis of August Boatwright.
Rosaleen Daise - Lily’s nanny and first friend. Rosaleen is a black woman who originally worked as a peach picker in the fields belonging to Lily’s father. Six months after Lily’s mother died, T. Ray took Rosaleen out of the fields and assigned her to taking care of Lily. She is a very large woman who often burps and speaks her mind clearly, openly, and without self-censorship. Proud and determined, Rosaleen quickly stands up for herself, even in the face of violent, racist men. She loves Lily, helping to mediate between Lily and her abusive father, and she goes along somewhat reluctantly with Lily’s plans out of a combination of love and pity for the young girl. Later, she becomes close friends with May Boatwright and easily becomes part of the Daughters of Mary religious community in Tiburon. Rosaleen did have a husband at one point, although she found him to be stupid.
Deborah Fontanel - Lily’s mother. Deborah was shot accidentally by four-year-old Lily. At the time, she had already left Lily and T. Ray and gone to stay with her old housekeeper, August Boatwright, in Tiburon. Deborah was an attractive and lively woman who became depressed living in Sylvan and had trouble acting as a responsible mother.
Zachary Taylor - Lily’s best friend and romantic interest. Zach is a junior at the black high school in Tiburon and plays football for the school team. He is handsome and has one dimple when he smiles. He is ambitious and hopes to be a lawyer someday, although he has never heard of a black lawyer. Sensitive Zach forms an attachment to Lily, giving her gifts and positive attention. He works on the Boatwrights’ farm to earn money for college, to buy a car, and to be self-reliant.
Terrence Ray (T. Ray) Owens - Lily’s father. A peach farmer, T. Ray was once passionately in love with Lily’s mother, to whom he was married. After his wife left him and later died, he became a bitter and resentful man. He abuses and punishes Lily by making her kneel on dried grits, making fun of her attempts to better herself through reading, and refusing to offer her any signs of love. T. Ray takes out his general resentment and bitterness on Lily, the product of his lost love.
May Boatwright - Sister of August and June and a friend and roommate to Rosaleen. May once had a twin sister, April, who was depressed and committed suicide at a young age. Since that time, May has become extremely sensitive and prone to depression. When sad, May sings the song “Oh! Susanna” and removes herself to spend time alone by a special wall she has constructed outside the house—her own “wailing wall.” A very warm person, May spends most of her time taking care of the Boatwright house by cooking and cleaning for the other ladies. She eventually kills herself in the river.
Neil - A very tall man who courts June Boatwright. Neil helps around the farm but lives elsewhere. He is kind to Lily and one of the few grown men in the novel that is gentle and honest.
The Daughters of Mary - A group of African Americans who have created their own religion, based around the Boatwright statue of the black Mary. Although most group members are women, there are some men who attend the Daughters get-togethers and celebrations. Lily and Rosaleen participate in this religion while staying at August’s farm.
Queenie - One of the Daughters of Mary. She dresses in bright colors and wears large, ornate hats.
Violet - One of the Daughters of Mary. Like her mother, Queenie, she dresses in fancy clothes and wears a decorative hat.
Lunelle - One of the Daughters of Mary. She is the hat maker and wears the most outlandish hats of all. Lunelle makes a hat for Lily.
Cressie - One of the Daughters of Mary. Her handicraft skill is crocheted octopuses.
Mabelee - One of the Daughters of Mary.
Sugar-Girl - One of the Daughters of Mary. She is married to Otis Hill and brings him along to most of the Daughters of Mary events.
Otis Hill - The wife of Sugar-Girl. A kind black man, Otis often attends the Daughters of Mary get-togethers.
Clayton Forrest - Zach’s mentor and Tiburon’s principal lawyer. A white man with a successful practice, Clayton takes an interest in Zach and encourages him to become a lawyer. His office is decorated with pictures of him with his daughter. Clayton is also an old friend of August’s.
April Boatwright - May’s twin sister. She committed suicide in childhood by shooting herself with a shotgun. Her childhood temperament was very similar to May’s adult temperament: overly sensitive and depressed.
Brother Gerald - The minister of a church in Sylvan. Lily attended his church when she was growing up. A pious man with racist tendencies, Brother Gerald is also rather foolish, as Lily has no problem tricking him. He is also self-righteous and petty.
Franklin Posey - The ringleader of Rosaleen’s attackers. Franklin is known in Sylvan as one of the most violent and reactionary racists.
Avery Gatson - The Sylvan cop that arrests Lily and Rosaleen. His friends call him “Shoe.” He is passively racist.
Miss Lacy - Mr. Forrest’s secretary. Slightly racist, Miss Lacy finds the fact that Lily lives with black women very disturbing.
Becca Forrest - The daughter of Clayton, the lawyer. She is a year younger than Lily and eventually becomes her friend in Tiburon.
Mrs. Gatson - The jail keeper and wife of the cop Avery Gatson.
Rose Campbell - The name Lily uses for her grandmother when she arrives in Tiburon.
Aunt Bernie - The name Lily uses for her aunt when she arrives in Tiburon.
Frogman General Store clerk - The clerk at Frogman General Store. He is a small, gullible, pious man.