The Secret Life of Bees

How does August’s recount of T. Ray and Deborah’s courtship and marriage reflect the social expectations of men and women in this text? Are these social norms different for men and women?

This is in chapter 12 and refers to the book 'The Secret Life Of Bees'.

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Throughout Lily’s discussion with August about Deborah, Deborah’s character is developed posthumously. Prior to this point, the reader’s understanding of Deborah has been limited to her relationship with Lily. Finally, during this conversation, August explains Deborah’s personality as a child and a young woman. August fills in the missing pieces that Lily needs. It is not quite a flashback, because this is a conversation about the past, not a narrative shift to a different time, but the majority of the conversation seems to focus on the events of the past.

This conversation demonstrates to Lily the burden of knowledge. Here readers might recall the story of Oedipus, who killed his own father and spends the majority of [Oedipus Rex] in a struggle for knowledge about the truth of his past, only to discover the horrible truth and then have to live with it. Though Lily now knows what happened to her mother, she is saddened by the truth that she at first was unwanted and that her mother subsequently left her to go to Tiburon. (Despite the serious mood of this moment, Kidd manages to add humor to the scene when Lily confesses her aspiration to be an amnesiac, preferring to forget the truth.)