Monday, June 16, 2008

Julia Comments on K, K & A's Comments! -Bees-

I don't know enough about Catholicism, Black American Religion, etc...So, I won't add to that discussion too much. However - there are some thoughts I'd like to add - -
Kelly said - One thing I've realized lately is that for a novel to work for me - I have to be able to believe that it would really happen. I can believe in books like "Les Mis", "Pride & Prejudice", "Tom Sawyer", etc., because although they aren't about real people, they are about lives that real people led and they are relatable to OUR lives. I had a hard time with "Life of Pi" (I believe I'm the only one who didn't like that book) and other books like that because it took unbelievable circumstances and tried to apply the lessons learned to a real world. I can't get over the "but this could never happen" part. In "The Secret Life of Bees" there were just too many unbelievable circumstances: worshipping Black Mary, Rosaleen spitting on shoes, Lily being instantly welcomed by August with no explanation, T. Ray letting Lily go on living there (hello, isn't this the 60s?) and other things just did not seem believable to me.
I say, I actually thought this book was quite "believable." It still was not my favorite book ,but I did think it held to some true thoughts and feelings of the time period. I think that a stubborn black woman like Rosalee just might have spit on a white man's shoes, and that there were those black/white relationships being squelched before they could begin (like Lily & Zack), and the beatings that must have taken place for the black population. As for living with the black women, I did wonder why the town was so accepting of it. A few people questioned, but for the most part Lily was ignored, and I found that to be a little odd.
Andrea said - I think we, as LDS women who understand our place and value better than anyone else on earth, take female empowerment for granted

I say - I agree that we take female empowerment for granted. However, I don't think that LDS women have always had the empowerment either. Think of Emma Smith who had to accept many things that were not easy to accept (the secrecy of the plates, the introduction of polygamy, etc...etc...) I think that we underestimate the statement in the Proclamation on the Family that husbands and wives are to work as equal partners and there was a reason for that statement being made in the 90's rather than in the 60's. Also, another note from Sister Beck's talk ( you all know the one I"m talking about). Empowerment of women still comes from being in the home, NOT from having so many options!

Andrea said - I can certainly see why August didn't go to those churches. Religion has traditionally been male-dominated. Not because of the Savior being male as much as that the clergy have been male. Would independent-minded August have put up with a preacher telling her to find and submit to a man? Give up her independence, her property, her income, her opinions, her ability to accept guests like Lily without getting approval? Marriage was way too one-sided for too long for me to accept that wanting to not get married made someone a man-hater.

This just proves mine and Kelly's point, does it not? That August was not willing to succomb to a man's authority in her life. A husband and father is still the man of the house. I don't know that she was a "man-hater" per say, but she definitley took too much liberty in freedom as an individual, I believe.

Kelly asked - Question:Why did Sue Monk Kidd feel it was necessary to write this story for today's audience? By that I mean, what does a story that is set 4 decades ago have to offer to us today? What new lessons can we learn? Do women today still need stories about female strength? We seem to lap them up (ie Oprah's bookclub). But is it filling a need, or is it preaching to the choir? I can agree that the need WAS it still? I'd like to hear your thoughts.
I liked Kami's answer here:
Kami - I think that woman today are more confused about their roles than ever before (because they have more options), which makes them more uncertain about the choices they've made and more subject to guilt about the things they may have given up. I think this leads to more women wanting female empowerment stories, so they can feel better about themselves and their choices.
HOWEVER - - what kind of empowerment stories like this give women the strength to make the right decisions? To me these books are of women rebelling against the right decisions. Yes, August was a very educated woman and I'm very proud of what she made of herself (especially in that era !!!), but I still would like to see more empowerment stories like those that Kelly listed and more: Little Women, for one. I guess I would just like to see more empowerment stories in a positive light rather than a "running-away-from-the-terrible" type of a setting.
One last note, along with Kelly I also appreciated the symbolism in this book, the connection with the life of bees, and the relationship between Zack and Lily. It really was a very well-written book, and I'm very glad I read it! Plus, this discussion has been FABULOUS!

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