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The Secret Life of Bees Quotes

25 of the best book quotes from The Secret Life of Bees
  1. #1
    “Someone who thinks death is the scariest thing doesn’t know a thing about life.”
  2. #2
    “Egg laying is the main thing, Lily. She’s the mother of every bee in the hive, and they all depend on her to keep it going. I don’t care what their job is—they know the queen is their mother. She’s the mother of thousands.”
  3. #3
    “But I will tell you this secret thing, which not one of them saw, not even August, the thing that brought me the most cause for gladness. It was how Sugar-Girl said what she did, like I was truly one of them. Not one person in the room said, ‘Sugar-Girl, really, talking about white people like that and we have a white person present.’ They didn’t even think of me being different.”
  4. #4
    ″. . . I looked around me, and it was like seeing everything through a train’s thick window. A blur passed before me. A moving wave of color. ‘I am not one of you,’ I thought.”
  5. #5
    “It’s funny how you forget the rules. She was not supposed to be inside here. Every time a rumor got going about a group of Negroes coming to worship with us on Sunday morning, the deacons stood locked-arms across the church stems to turn them away. We loved them in the Lord, Brother Gerald said, but they had their own places.”
  6. #6
    ″‘Covering the hives was supposed to keep the bees from leaving. You see, the last thing they wanted was their bees swarming off when a death took place. Having bees around was supposed to ensure that the dead person would live again.’
    “My eyes grew wide, “Really?′
    ”‘Tell her about Aristaeus,’ Zach said.
    ”‘Oh, yes, Aristaeus. Every beekeeper should know that story . . . Aristaeus was the first keeper of bees. One day all his bees died, punishment by the gods for something bad that Aristaeus had done. The gods told him to sacrifice a bull to show he was sorry, and then return to the carcass in nine days and look inside it. Well, Aristaeus did just what they said, and when he came back, he saw a swarm of bees fly out of the dead bull. His own bees, reborn. He took them home to his hives, and after that people believed that bees had power over death. The kings in Greece made their tombs in the shape of beehives for that very reason.‘”
  7. #7
    “Well if you have a queen and a group of independent-minded bees that split off from the rest of the hive and look for another place to live, then you’ve got a swarm.”
  8. #8
    “Our mother said she was like Mary, with her heart on the outside of her chest.”
  1. #9
    “That night I lay in bed and thought about dying and going to be with my mother in paradise. I would meet her saying, ‘Mother, forgive. Please forgive,’ and she would kiss my skin till it grew chapped and tell me I was not to blame. She would tell me this for the first ten thousand years.”
  2. #10
    “July 1, 1964, I lay in bed waiting for the bees to show up, thinking of what Rosaleen had said when I told her about their nightly visitations.
    ‘Bees swarm before death,’ she’d said.”
  3. #11
    “It was you who did it, Lily. You didn’t mean it, but it was you.”
  4. #12
    “I live in a hive of darkness, and you are my mother, I told her. You are the mother of thousands.”
  5. #13
    “Please, Lily, you are insulting your fine intelligence. Do you have any idea how smart you are?”
  6. #14
    “Most people don’t have any idea about all the complicated life going on inside a hive. Bees have a secret life we don’t know anything about.”
  7. #15
    “Lily, I like you better than any girl I’ve ever known, but you have to understand, there are people who would kill boys like me for even looking at girls like you.”
  8. #16
    “T. Ray did not think colored women were smart. Since I want to tell the whole truth, which means the worst parts, I thought they could be smart, but not as smart as me, me being white. Lying on the cot in the honey house, though, all I could think was August is so intelligent, so cultured, and I was surprised by this. That’s what let me know I had some prejudice buried inside me.”
  1. #17
    “June played with her eyes closed, as if May’s spirit getting into heaven depended solely on her. You have never heard such music, how it made us believe death was nothing but a doorway.”
  2. #18
    “August said, ‘We sit with her so we can tell her good-bye. It’s called a vigil. Sometimes people have a hard time letting death sink in, they can’t say good-bye. A vigil helps us do that.’
    “If the dead person is right there in your living room, it would certainly make things sink in better. It was strange to think about a dead person in the house, but if it helped us say good-bye better, then okay, I could see the point of it.”
  3. #19
    ″‘Good riddance,’ he said, and moved toward the door. We had to open up our little wall of women to let him through.”
  4. #20
    ″. . . Big Mama kept bees, too, right out there in the same spot they’re in today. Nobody around here had ever seen a lady beekeeper till her. She liked to tell everybody that women made the best beekeepers, ‘cause they have a special ability built into them to love creatures that sting. ‘It comes from years of loving children and husbands,’ she’d say.”
  5. #21
    “This was a great revelation—not that I was white but that it seemed like June might not want me here because of my skin color. I hadn’t known this was possible—to reject people for being white.”
  6. #22
    ″‘We can’t think of changing our skin,’ he said. ‘Change the world—that’s how we gotta think.‘”
  7. #23
    “If this was a man’s world, a veil took the rough beard right off. Everything appeared softer, nicer. When I walked behind August in my bee veil, I felt like a moon floating behind a night cloud.”
  8. #24
    “Putting black cloths on the hives is for us. I do it to remind us that life gives way into death, and then death turns around and gives way into life.”
  9. #25
    “Turned on its side, the brick announced a happy bee family, no Ozzie, just Harriet and her ten thousand daughters.”
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