The Secret Life of Bees

Lily trades a "pack of lies for a pack of truth."

 lily trades a "pack of lies for a pack of truth." She is unsure which is the greater burden. Explain what Lily has learned about her parents 

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August describes her interaction with Lily’s mother. She explains how she began working for Deborah’s mother, Sarah, when Deborah was four years old. She worked there for nine years and then began teaching. When she left for South Carolina, Deborah was nineteen years old and was devastated that she left. Deborah moved to Sylvan, following the advice of a high school friend. Deborah met T. Ray there, and they were married. Lily questions why she would marry him, and August insists that he started off a good man; Deborah loved him. However, August points out, people change after life gets through with them. Besides, when T. Ray first proposed, Deborah had rejected the proposal, but she later changed her mind because she was pregnant.

Lily panics and realizes she was an unwanted baby. Lily wishes she never knew that. August reassures Lily that her mother said that Lily was such a pretty baby that it made her eyes hurt. August discusses what Lily always hoped to hear: that her mother had loved her and cared for her. August says that she thinks her mother was happy for a while, before her life changed toward unhappiness. She wrote to August saying she was leaving T. Ray, and she asked if she could stay with the Boatwrights for a while. She came to the house without Lily because she was depressed and falling apart.

Lily now decides that she hates her mother for leaving her behind. August attempts to reason with her, but Lily insists that she does hate her. Lily thinks it was easy for her mother to leave her since she was an unwanted baby in the first place. August explains that Deborah arrived to Tiburon as skin and bone. She would not eat and was depressed. August attempts to explain that people who are depressed do things they normally would not do. Lily flips back and forth between hating her mother and pitying her. Once Deborah’s condition improved, August continues, Deborah decided she would go back to Sylvan to get Lily.

Suddenly, Lily’s memory of the day her mother died seems new. In fact, Deborah had returned to get Lily, not just to get her belongings. Lily is angered by the fact that they did not get away from T. Ray that day. August continues, saying that she called the house to find out what happened to Deborah. A neighbor informed her of Deborah’s death. August tried to learn more, but T. Ray would not offer any information.

Lily feels that her new knowledge is a curse. She has the truth, but it is heavy. August reassures Lily that everyone makes mistakes, and her mother did the best she could to rectify the situation. August explains that nothing is perfect, and “there is only life.”