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Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees Essay

In Sue Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees there is a psychological allegory present, which is proven by the characters in the story. The psychological allegory is based on the theory by Sigmund Freud, this theory states that in the human brain there is three major psychological portions, the id, the ego, and the super ego. The id is the portion that induces selfishness and hatred and other “bad” actions, the super ego is the opposite of the id, putting others before ones self and caring for others, the ego is the perfect balance between the two and is almost always the psyche portrayed be the protagonist. In this novel it is T. Ray who illustrates the id, through his bad treatment of Lily, his lack of commitment to Rosaleen, and his selfishness when Lily is gone. May Boatwright is the character who illustrates the super ego by her innocence, her caring and by her need for perfection. The ego is portrayed be Lily, through her good decision making, her panning abilities, and by the way she stands up to her father. All of these characters are uniquely important to proving the psychological allegory that can be found in this novel.

In this story it is the character T. Ray who fills the role of the id in the psychological allegory, T. Ray fills this role by the way he treats Lily, the way he doesn’t care about his worker; Rosaleen, and by the way he only thinks of himself during lily’s absence. T. Ray’s only family left to him is his daughter Lily, yet he still treats her poorly. T. Ray finds Lily outside in the dark and without any proof of misbehaviour he punishes her rather severely “He poured a mound of grits the size of an anthill onto the pine floor “Get over here and kneel down” (p24) T. Ray seems to almost enjoy punishing Lily, perhaps because he still blames her for his wife’s death. This is a trait which fits the id portion of the psyche. T. Ray does not seem to care about the only other adult in the house he lives in; Rosaleen. Rosaleen is the closest thing he has to a friend and T. Ray couldn’t care less for her.

Lily is trying to convince T. Ray to let Rosaleen out of jail, and T. Ray refuses “ What I ,mean is, I wouldn’t be surprised if he flat out killed her “ (p30) T. Ray know Rosaleen might die but he still wont try to help her because it would mean standing up to the people of his community. He is only thinking of himself, which is a quality of the id. T. Ray also only thinks of himself when Lily leaves him, instead of considering the fact that she might be happier without him. T. Ray has found Lily at the Boatwright house and is insisting she come back “I spent half my summer looking for you, and I’m taking you out of here” (290) T. Ray spent half his summer looking for Lily because he was happier with her, instead of thinking of Lily and considering the fact that she might be happier with out him. In this he was only thinking of himself and was demonstrating the id. Through all of these excerpts it can de determined that the character of T. Ray demonstrates the id in the psychological allegory, through his bad treatment of Lily, his lack of caring with Rosaleen, and the way he only thinks of himself.

In this novel the character of May Boatwright portrays the super ego, by her unbiased caring, by her innocence, and by her need for perfection. May cares for every one no matter what race or gender, and created a wall to pray for the people of the world. May has just heard that Zach is in jail and is upset “I’m going to the wall” (p187) May knows Zach is in trouble so she immediately starts praying for him, this shows a great amount of caring which is a super ego quality. May is also extremely innocent when it comes to the people around her. May becomes very upset when she sees a Negro man dead with a widow and her family “that’s all right, May. Let all misery slide right off you” (p89)

May is demonstrating the super ego be the way she is putting other people before herself and is feeling their misery. May has a need for perfection which is in keeping with her super ego character. May is making pancakes for every one and shows Lily’s to her “This ones yours” “L for Lily” (p103) May is not going to be happy with just a plain pancake, she is making a perfect L for Lily. This is a quality of the super ego. Each of these quotes shows the ways the character May Boatwright acts as the super ego in this story, through her caring, her innocence, and her need for perfection May fits this potion of the psychological allegory.

The last character who completes the psychological allegory is Lily herself who portrays the ego. She does this through her calm decision making, her panning ahead, and the way she stand up to her father. The character Lily has good calm decisions making. Lily is at home after Rosaleen’s encounter with the men “In a matter of seconds I knew what I had to do-leave. I had to get away from T. Ray who would be back soon” (p41) Lily does not panic, she does not give up, she simply makes the best decision available to her, which is an ego trait. Lily also has good planning skills; she thinks ahead and does not get stuck in the present.

Lily and Rosaleen have just reached the outskirts of Tiburon “If we can find some place open when we get into town ill go get us some food” “if they don’t have a hotel we’ll have to rent a room” (p60) Lily is portraying the ego by the way she is planning for the future to insure she and Rosaleen will have food and shelter. In the end of the novel Lily displace the Ego by the way she stands up to her father. T. Ray has come to The Boatwright house to find Lily and bring her home “I’m Staying here” “I’m not leaving” (p296) Lily is standing up for what she wants and is taking control of her own life, and is portraying the ego. By her decision making, planning and standing up for herself, it can be determined that Lily is the ego of this novel.

Each of these characters has uniquely contributed to the psychological allegory that is present in this novel. T. Ray representing the id by his bad treatment of lily, his lack of caring for Rosaleen, and his selfish ways. May demonstrates the super ego by her caring, innocence, and perfection. And Lily portraying the ego, by her planning, decision making, and the way she stands up for herself. Through all of this proof it can be determined that there is a psychological allegory present in this novel.


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