The Secret Life of Bees

Pervasive Racism in The Secret Life of Bees 12th Grade

Within the historic world created in The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, one of the many underlying influences in Sylvan is that of prejudice and bigotry. Many figures within society are not what they seem. The established church gives the message of hope to everybody--that is, if one is not African American. Likewise, the police protect the rights of the people--unless the people happen to be African American. Even the innocence and goodness of a child can be sullied by what the society values. In The Secret Life of Bees, the society depicted proves that racism is not only prevalent, but also lurking in the places one would least expect.

When the word “fair” comes to mind, the associated people are usually those that enforce justice; after all, justice is supposed to be blind. Although the justice system has the best intentions in the world of the novel, it seems as though the system has become corrupted; the chief enforcers of the law, the police, are seen to be infected with racism. This is demonstrated clearly when Rosaleen is allowed to be senselessly beaten by the racists in the jail cell: “After you left, that policeman called, let those men come in for their apology…two of them held me by the arms while the other...

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