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This is a little hard to explain. I've always seen T Rays act of destroying Lily's chair an act of superiority...... similar to I'm your father...... I'm the boss. I believe the knife and the carving symbolized dominance. Unfortunately, this dominace isn't really meant for Lily. T Ray sees Lily as an extension of her mother at this point, and he needs to come to terms with his feelings for Deborah just like Lily does. Their memories and how they feel about her are different, but both of them need to come to term with the memories...... and most of all the truth.
The Secret Life of Bees