The Father and Daughter Conflict in The Secret Life of Bees, a Book by Sue Monk Kidd

Conflict is a tool used in literature to help authors make their stories relatable to the reader, whether it is in their own life, or what they know of the world. Conflict can be found between a person and a friend, an idea, an object, or even themselves. In The Secret Life of Bees, there is a major conflict between Lily and her father, T. Ray. The author, Sue Monk Kidd, uses this conflict to shape the story from the very beginning.

One way the author uses the conflict is to show a major theme. The conflict between them conveys the human truth that all children need a loving and nurturing parent.

The author sets up the conflict in the beginning of the novel through background information and finally an argument between Lily and T. Ray. The author gives the reader an idea of Lily and T. Ray’s relationship by talking about interactions between the two and the history they have.

Lily’s mother died when she was young and this is a big factor in the conflict. T. Ray has a huge lack of sensitivity towards Lily in regard to this event in their life and this is the foundation of their conflict. The argument that conveys this conflict results in T. Ray saying, “The truth is, your sorry mother ran off and left you. The day she died, she’d come back to get her things, that’s all. You can hate me all you want, but she’s the one who left you.

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” (Kidd, 39) T. Ray’s uncaring treatment of Lily prevents her from being able to grieve her mother’s death and move on. Lily has an unhealthy relationship with her father and this eventually caused her to run away. The author used this conflict to start Lily’s journey to find something better than what she’s been living with.

The conflict further affects the story when Lily begins doubting her decision to run away and tries to give T. Ray a second chance. At the time, Lily is living with the Boatwright sisters. She begins wondering if she acted too quickly and she thinks T. Ray might miss her. She calls him and asks him something that means something to her, and his failure to meet her expectations solidifies her interpretation of his indifference to her. When Lily calls him, T. Ray says “Your Sorry ain’t worth a shit load of peaches, Lily. I swear to God— ‘I called because I was just wondering something… do you know what my favorite color is?’ ‘Jesus Christ. What are you talking about? I’m going to find you, Lily, and when I do, I’m gonna tear your behind to pieces.” (Kidd, 160) The author uses this moment to strengthen Lily’s view of the Boatwright sisters and the importance of their support to her.

The conclusion of the conflict between Lily and T. Ray is their final goodbye. “Good riddance,’ he said, and moved toward the door.” (Kidd, 298) When T. Ray allows Lily to stay with the Boatwright sisters indefinitely, it releases Lily to move away from the painful and unhealthy relationship they had. She is able to mourn her mother and remember her in a happy light, instead of being unable to grieve. The author uses the closure of this conflict to close the story and allow everyone to move on.

In this novel, the conflict between Lily and T. Ray is a major tool used to shape the plot. Not only did this conflict have a huge affect on Lily and her life, but it also made the story turn out the way it did. The underlying cause of the conflict is resolved while Lily is away and the resolution is coupled with that of the rest of the story. This type of conflict is just one of many used by authors as devices to form their literature.

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The Father and Daughter Conflict in The Secret Life of Bees, a Book by Sue Monk Kidd. (2021, Dec 15). Retrieved from

The Father and Daughter Conflict in The Secret Life of Bees, a Book by Sue Monk Kidd
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