The Secret Life of Bees | Study Guide

Sue Monk Kidd

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The Secret Life of Bees | Characters

Character Description
Lily Owens Lily Owens, the protagonist, is a 14-year-old white girl who leaves home in search of information about her deceased mother, Deborah Fontanel Owens. Read More
August Boatwright August Boatwright is the black female beekeeper who takes in Lily Owens and Rosaleen Daise. She becomes Lily's mentor in beekeeping as well as in spiritual matters. Read More
Rosaleen Daise Rosaleen Daise is the black woman who has taken care of Lily Owens since her mother's death 10 years ago. Read More
June Boatwright June Boatwright is the cello-playing schoolteacher sister of August and May Boatwright. It takes June some time to accept Lily Owens because Lily is white. Read More
May Boatwright May Boatwright is the sister of August and June Boatwright. Her deceased twin sister, April, committed suicide. Since April's death, May has felt the pain of the world as her own, and she, too, eventually commits suicide. Read More
Zachary Taylor Zachary Taylor is August Boatwright's beekeeping apprentice. He is a young black man with aspirations to become a lawyer. Lily Owens and Zach fall in love, but they cannot pursue a relationship because of race. Read More
T. Ray Owens T. Ray Owens is Lily Owens's cruel father, who runs a peach orchard. Read More
Aristaeus In ancient Greek mythology, Aristaeus was the first beekeeper. August Boatwright tells Lily Owens the story of Aristaeus to explain how bees came to be associated with death and rebirth.
August Boatwright's mother August Boatwright's mother took possession of the statue of Our Lady of Chains after the death of Big Mama. She worshiped the statue and became a Catholic because of it.
Beatrix Beatrix is the nun in a story that August Boatwright tells Lily Owens. In the story, Beatrix runs away from the convent, finding upon her return that the Virgin Mary has been standing in for her the whole time.
Aunt Bernie Aunt Bernie is the fictional aunt Lily Owens invents when she arrives at the Boatwrights' home. Lily tells the Boatwrights she is going to find her Aunt Bernie in Virginia, having been orphaned the previous month when her father died in a tractor accident.
April Boatwright April Boatwright is the deceased twin of May Boatwright. The racial injustices she witnessed led her to become depressed and commit suicide as a teenager.
Clerk at Frogmore General Store The clerk at the Frogmore General Store in Tiburon gives Lily Owens directions to the home of August Boatwright, the woman who produces the honey bearing the Black Madonna label.
Colored man in Chevy A nameless black man in a Chevy truck picks up Rosaleen Daise and Lily Owens when they hitchhike and drops them in the woods outside Tiburon. He gives them some cantaloupes, which he is transporting to the state farmers' market.
Cressie Cressie is one of the Daughters of Mary.
Becca Forrest Becca Forrest is the daughter of Clayton Forrest. She becomes friends with Lily Owens and Zachary Taylor, and stands by Zach as he integrates the white high school.
Clayton Forrest Clayton Forrest is a white lawyer who sells August Boatwright's honey and mentors Zachary Taylor. When Zachary is unjustly imprisoned, Clayton Forrest works for his release.
Mr. Avery Gaston Also known as Shoe, Mr. Avery Gaston is the policeman who takes Rosaleen Daise to jail after she pours her snuff juice on the shoes of three white men.
Brother Gerald Brother Gerald is the pastor at Ebenezer Baptist Church in Sylvan, the whites-only church Lily Owens attends with her father.
Eddie Hazelwurst Eddie Hazelwurst is a policeman in Tiburon who lets Lily Owens and August Boatwright see Zachary Taylor in jail. When May Boatwright commits suicide, he comes to the house to investigate and tells Lily that she mustn't "lower herself" by living with black women.
Mrs. Henry Mrs. Henry is Lily's English teacher in Sylvan and the first person to encourage Lily to become a writer.
Otis Hill Otis Hill is a man who worships with the Daughters of Mary. His wife is Sugar-Girl.
Jackson Jackson is a young black man who throws a cola bottle at a group of white men outside the Tiburon movie theater. All the boys standing around Jackson, including Zachary Taylor, are arrested and taken to jail as a result of this act.
Jailer's wife The jailer's wife cooks for the inmates at the Sylvan jail. Lily Owens impersonates her from a hospital phone, summoning back to the jail the policeman guarding Rosaleen Daise's room so that Rosaleen can escape.
Miss Jennings Miss Jennings is a blind woman who attends the same Baptist church as Lily Owens and her father. She is the only person who has ever told Lily she is pretty.
Miss Lacy Miss Lacy is Clayton Forrest's secretary. She tells T. Ray Owens where to find Lily after Lily places a collect call to him from Forrest's office.
Lunelle One of the Daughters of Mary, Lunelle is a hatmaker who makes creative, brightly colored, unconventional hats.
Mabelee Mabelee is one of the Daughters of Mary.
Big Mama Big Mama is the grandmother of the Boatwright sisters. She was a beekeeper.
Willifred Marchant Zachary Taylor tells Lily Owens about Willifred Marchant, an eccentric local hero and published author from Tiburon who has written three books about trees.
Neil Neil is the principal at the high school, where June Boatwright works, and June's longtime suitor. June finally agrees to marry Neil after her sister May's suicide.
Obadiah In the legend of Our Lady of Chains, Obadiah is the slave who finds the statue washed up on the shore of the Ashely River. When the statue speaks to him, he realizes it is a gift from God and brings it to the slaves' praise house.
Our Lady of Chains Our Lady of Chains is a wooden statue from a ship, now at the Boatwrights' house. They worship her as a symbol of the power of the Divine Mother. She is also called the black Mary and the Black Madonna.
Deborah Fontanel Owens Deborah Fontanel Owens is Lily Owens's deceased mother. She was raised by August Boatwright. Deborah left her unhappy marriage to T. Ray Owens and had returned to Sylvan to get her daughter, Lily, when she was accidentally killed by a gunshot.
Jack Palance Jack Palance is a white movie star who, according to rumors, plans to integrate the theater in Tiburon by bringing a black woman on a date there.
Pearl Pearl is the old slave woman who, in the legend of Our Lady of Chains, proclaims the statue to be Mary, the mother of Jesus.
Policeman A nameless policeman is appointed to guard Rosaleen Daise's hospital room in Sylvan. Lily Owens tricks him into leaving by impersonating the jailer's wife on the phone, thus allowing Rosaleen to escape.
Franklin Posey Franklin Posey is one of the three racist white men on whose shoes Rosaleen Daise pours her snuff juice. He has a reputation as one of the most violent racists in town, and he follows Rosaleen to jail where he assaults her.
Queenie Queenie is an old woman who is one of the Daughters of Mary. Her adult daughter is Violet.
Sugar-Girl Sugar-Girl is one of the Daughters of Mary. Her husband is Otis Hill.
Violet Violet is one of the Daughters of Mary, the adult daughter of Queenie.
Mrs. Watson Mrs. Watson is the Owens's neighbor in Sylvan. After Deborah Fontanel Owens left, Mrs. Watson took care of young Lily Owens for a while.
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