The Secret Life of Bees is a book by author Sue Monk Kidd. It is set in 1964 in South Carolina, and focuses on the coming of age of Lily, a young white girl with many demons she must overcome. Amid her experience is a backdrop of racism and the Civil Rights Movement. The novel establishes that there is a struggle against racism that influences people in different segments of society. It shows the irrationality of racism in the 1960s. Multiple characters throughout the book display racist character traits, Rosaleen is on the receiving end of racism, whereas Lily and June are perpetuating the values of the time.
June Cartwright is the sister of August and May and lives in the house in Tiburon. She is an educated black woman, but still exhibits racist behavior towards Lily. Lily over hears June talking about her, “’But she’s white August’ …June might not want me here because of my skin color’” (Kidd 87). Even though June is a minority, she is prejudice against white people which is shocking to Lily who has never experienced this before. June did not like the fact that her educated sister, August, could only get a job as a…show more content… Whist growing up her environment had influenced her mindset. When Lily expressed her doubt about Zach using his intellect to attend university he was irritated with her assumption: “’Why is it sports is the only thing white people see us being successful at? I don’t want to play football,’ he said. ‘I wanna be a lawyer’” (120-121). Despite the repeal of the Jim Crow laws in 1964 racism still exists and this attitude is still demonstrated in America today. Lily’s racism is very subtle, but she is making an assumption about a group of people, when she first meets Zach: If he was shocked at me being white, I was shocked about him being handsome (116). This comment exhibits Lily’s immaturity and lack of experience outside of the