The Secret Life of Bees
Sue Monk Kidd
Contributed by Vernita Mires
Chapter 3

While Rosaleen sleeps, Lily thinks about the Virgin Mary. Lily does not know much about her because Mary is not an important figure in her church.

As they make their way toward town, Rosaleen tells Lily that no one is going to let a colored woman stay in a motel. Lily wonders what the Civil Rights Amendment was all about, then. In town, Lily goes into a store to buy some lunch. When the store-owner remarks that he has never seen her, she says she is in town visiting her grandmother. Lily steals snuff for Rosaleen because the man cannot sell it on Sunday. While in the store Lily sees jars of honey with the picture of the Black Madonna on them. The store-owner tells her that the woman who makes the honey is named August Boatwright and lives in a bright pink house. Lily believes that her mother must have known August.

Lily decides that she must go to the pink house. After lunch Lily buys a newspaper and is glad to see that she and Rosaleen are not in it.


The epigraph of this chapter tells us that an elusive queen can be found by finding her circle of attendants. In Chapter Three, Lily makes a very important step toward finding her mother: she finds out about someone who may have known Deborah. Thus, Lily has located a potential “circle of attendants.”

In this chapter, it begins to become apparent that The Secret Life of Bees will be a bildungsroman of sorts. A bildungsroman is a novel in which the main character progresses from childhood into adulthood. The protagonist usually undertakes some sort of journey that will lead her to a state of maturity in which she understands her place in the social order. Lily has undertaken a journey to discover the truth about her mother. In order for her to understand her place in society, or “the hive” to use Kidd’s metaphor, she must locate the “queen bee” or a queen-substitute.

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