Date of Award

Summer 7-14-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Pearl McHaney

Second Advisor

Tom McHaney

Third Advisor

Nancy Chase


Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees (2002) tells the story of a motherless fourteen-year-old Lily Owens, raised by a cruel father, who desperately searches for clues to unlock her mother’s past. Kidd’s bildungsroman reveals the incredible power of black women, particularly a group of beekeeping sisters and a black Mary, to create a safe haven where Lily can examine her fragmented life and develop psychologically, finally becoming a self-actualized young lady. Lily’s matriarchal world of influence both compares and contrasts with the patriarchal world represented in Mark Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, exposing the matriarchy’s aptly structured ways of providing a more healing environment than is Huck Finn’s. Kidd’s novel also showcases the stylistic strategies of first person narrative point of view, language, dialect, and the motif of place in order to contextualize the social awareness and psychological development Lily gains through her journey.