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Lily’s Fulfillment of the Hero’s Journey Essay

The classic story line of the hero’s journey can be recognized in almost every book, movie, or short story written. Even in some stories that would not be that obvious, such as the historical fiction novel The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Although not very recognizable two out of the three main stages of the hero’s journey are departure and initiation. These are apparent through out Lily’s journey to find herself and her mother’s history. The third main stage, return, is not as apparent in the novel.

Departure, the first stage of the hero’s journey, is portrayed in Kidd’s historical fiction novel. This stage includes meeting the mentor, the call to adventure, and crossing the first threshold. Lily’s mentors through out the story are the bees. She goes back to them as a source of knowledge because she feels they have life figured out. The call to adventure happens when Lily realizes the only way to find answers for her many questions about her mother is to leave and search for them. “Lily Melissa Owens, your jar is open. In a matter of seconds I knew exactly what I had to do- leave”(Kidd 41). Crossing the first threshold occurs after Lily’s realization. When she packs a bag leaving a note for T-Ray, her abusive father, and going to the hospital to get Rosaleen.

The second stage, the initiation, takes place through most of the story and explains all of Lily’s trials to find herself and information about her mother. Through out Lily’s journey to find information about her mother, she encounters many hardships that help her mature and find herself. One of the biggest advances of her finding herself and maturing is when she falls in love with Zach. “Zachary Lincoln Taylor, resting there, along my heart.”(Kidd 231). This quote shows her feelings towards Zach and how much she cares about him. Although some trials created joy others created sorrow.

“I looked away. I knew then. May was dead.”(Kidd 193) These three sentences make what happened really prominent and it enhances dread and sadness. Another example of a hardship Lily has to go through is when T-Ray comes to Tiburon to get Lily back and bring her home. “How dare you leave me! You need a lesson, is what you need!”(Kidd 294). This quote increases the understanding of T-Rays anger at Lily for leaving him. Lily’s hardships all affected her either positively or negatively.

The third and final stage of the hero’s journey, return, is not as visible in this novel as the other stages. The return stage includes the refusal of the return. Although Lily refuses to go back to the peach farm with T-Ray, this is not a refusal to return to her ordinary world. Lily’s ordinary world is at the honey farm with August, June, and Rosaleen. Because Lily’s ordinary world is at the honey farm she doesn’t need to return to Sylvan, South Carolina.

The step the master of the two worlds, where the character has become comfortable with themselves and everyone around them, is shown. At the end of the book Lil has come to accept the fact that she killed her mother. Also she has matured and found herself through out all of the trials she has gone through. The story line of the hero’s journey follows Lily Owens through her journey to find herself and information about her mother. The three stages she follows are departure, initiation, and although not as apparent return. After completing the hero’s journey she is now able to go on with her.


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