Secret Life Of Bees Character Essay

Torres 1 Character Analysis of August Boatwright As Lily Owens tries to unlock the secrets of her past, she is taken on a journey that leads her into a world full of wonder and community. She decides to leave her abusive father and with only a label and a picture of her mother, she enters into the Boatwright sisters’ lives. The characters in Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees are all exceptional in their own way. All the women help Lily to find herself and as they show her what it means to be a woman and help her let go of her past. However, one woman serves as the core for Lily’s personal growth, August Boatwright. August not only helps Lily to discover who she is, but she is the backbone of the community of women that she creates in Tiburon, South Carolina. She is a strong, independent woman who has not allowed her social status and skin color to prevent her from achieving her goals. August as a character allows the story to move to its positive, heart-felt ending. Her love and support helps the other characters, particularly Lily, in the book reach their potential. She is a mother to everyone and a leader whom they can all look up to. Furthermore, August Boatwright brings a sense of empowerment to all the women in her life and helps to create a bond between her and Lily that only a mother and daughter can share with one another. The first characteristic that allows August to help those around her is her natural leadership. She lives with her sisters and when she is first introduced it is apparent that August is the sister who takes care of May and June. She runs her honey business out of her home. She could even be seen as the “queen bee” in the novel. Where she lives is where all of her friends and family come together; similar to a beehive they all worship, eat, and build community in their own way. Also, when the Daughters of Mary come, August leads the group. Through her story telling she brings the story of Mary to the Daughters. Her stories make her the memory

Lily Owens

The Secret Life of Bees is the story of how Lily, a 14-year-old girl from South Carolina, struggles to make sense of her relationship with her mother and father, the black community, and the people… (read full character analysis)

August Boatwright

The head of the Boatwright house in Tiburon, South Carolina, August Boatwright is a strong, charismatic, and enormously wise woman. August raises bees and runs her own business selling honey and beeswax products, and she… (read full character analysis)


Rosaleen is a proud, middle-aged woman who works as a maid for T. Ray and Lily Owens in Sylvan, South Carolina. Shortly after Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act, Rosaleen goes into town… (read full character analysis)

T. Ray Owens

T. Ray Owens is Lily Owens’s father, a harsh, cruel man. Although T. Ray was once kinder and gentler, the sudden death of his wife, Deborah Fontanel Owens, throws him into depression and… (read full character analysis)

May Boatwright

The youngest and strangest of the Boatwright sisters, May is an odd, mentally disturbed woman who becomes deeply depressed whenever anything tragic happens to anyone. Whenever a tragedy occurs, May writes it down on a… (read full character analysis)

June Boatwright

The sister of May, August, and April Boatwright. Like August, June is an intelligent, educated woman, but where August welcomes Lily into their home with open arms, June is suspicious and contemptuous… (read full character analysis)

Minor Characters

April Boatwright

The twin sister of May Boatwright, who killed herself at the age of 15.

Clayton Forrest

A prominent lawyer in Tiburon, South Carolina, who gives help and advice to Zachary Taylor and the Boatwrights.

Mrs. Henry

A dedicated teacher who encourages Lily Owens to go to college.

Brother Gerald

A priest in Sylvan, South Carolina, who’s shown to be uncomfortable and even contemptuous around African Americans.

Avery Gaston

The police officer who arrests Rosaleen for “fighting” with the trio of racist white men.

Franklin Posey

A racist white man who fights with Rosaleen, and, it’s suggested, plans to kill her.


A tall, handsome man who repeatedly tries and fails to marry June Boatwright.

Willifred Marchant

A (fictional) famous author, born in Tiburon, South Carolina.

Jack Palance

A (historical) famous movie star of the 50s and 60s, celebrated in the black community for having a black girlfriend.

Eddie Hazelwurst

The jailer in Tiburon, South Carolina.


A legendary Greek keeper of bees who inspired the practice of burying the dead in beehive-shaped tombs.


The daughter of Clayton Forrest.


A friend of Zachary Taylor.

Sugar Girl

One of the Daughters of Mary.


A mythical black slave who, according to the Daughters of Mary, was inspired to break free from his chains after finding a statue of the Virgin Mary.

Lyndon B. Johnson

The President of the United States from 1963 to 1969, responsible for signing into law the Civil Rights Acts, which protected the rights of African Americans.

Arn, Jackson. "The Secret Life of Bees Characters." LitCharts. LitCharts LLC, 28 Mar 2016. Web. 10 Mar 2018.

Arn, Jackson. "The Secret Life of Bees Characters." LitCharts LLC, March 28, 2016. Retrieved March 10, 2018.

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