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Free Online Summary Notes for The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd
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Lily is upset that Zach is returning to work because she has enjoyed her time alone with August. Lily first sees Zach singing “Viva Las Vegas” when he does not know that she is there. Zach is surprised that Lily is white because August did not mention it to him. Lily is immediately attracted to his one-dimple grin.

Lily loves working with Zach and staying at the Boatwright’s house. The only part of the day she does not like is dinner because she must endure June. One night after they say their Hail Marys, August tells Lily that she is welcome to touch the Lady’s heart if she wishes. Lily says she will some other time.

One day Zach and Lily talk about what subjects they like in school and what they would like to do with their futures. Lily tells Zach that she wanted to be a writer and an English teacher but because she is an orphan now, she does not think she has much of a future. Zach argues that he has it tougher because he is black. He wants to be a lawyer. When Lily says she has never seen a black lawyer, Zach says she has to imagine what she has never seen.

Rosaleen continues to tell Lily that she is living in a dream world and she must face the truth sooner or later. One day June mentions to Lily that she has been there for two weeks. Lily says that she will write to her aunt for bus money. June remarks that Lily must have suddenly remembered her aunt’s last name and address. August enters and ends the conversation by saying that no one wants Lily to leave until she is ready. August tells Lily that she can talk to her. Lily does not tell August anything at this point because she has not yet touched Mary’s heart. That night Lily cries in her bed.

One night Lily overhears June and Neil talking. Neil wants to know why June won’t marry him. June says she can’t. Neil says he will not wait forever.

Another day, August sends Lily and Zach out together. Lily imagines that she and Zach get stuck in a blizzard and have to intertwine their bodies in order to stay warm. During the drive, Zach tells Lily about a lawyer who sells August’s honey and candles in his office and talks to Zach about his cases. As he is talking, Zach hits a rut, which causes him and Lily to hit their heads on the ceiling of the car. Lily laughs uncontrollably. Zach becomes nervous when she cannot stop laughing. When Lily regains control, she and Zach begin talking about a local writer. Zach teases Lily about wanting to be a writer and she starts crying. Lily realizes that she is crying because of the way she feels for Zach. Zach hugs Lily and tells her that she will be a fine writer one day.

When she returns to the honey house, Lily learns that Rosaleen is moving into May’s room because May gets scared at night. Lily is very upset. Rosaleen promises she is not leaving her. June and Neil get into a screaming match. June tells Neil that if he leaves, he should never come back. Neil drives away. May cries, and goes to the wall. At night, alone in the honey house, Lily fantasizes about Zach visiting her. Soon after, Zach surprises Lily with a notebook to write in. She realizes she will never find a better friend than Zach.


Chapter Seven’s epigraph notes that it is strange how bees became associated with sex when in reality their hives are like cloisters, or convents. As we learned from a previous epigraph it is mostly female bees that operate the hive. The females only rarely need male bees. Similarly, the Boatwright household is comprised of all female “bees” with the occasional male visitor. However, these male-female relationships prove complicated. June and Neil argue frequently about marriage. June has been hurt before and refuses to attempt marriage again. Neil, conversely, maintains that he will not wait around forever for June.

In this chapter we also see romance begin to develop between Lily and Zach. A romantic relationship between Lily and Zach would be very complicated because of the race issue. Lily’s feelings for Zach introduce a potential conflict in the plot.

Zach’s full name, “Zachary Lincoln Taylor” is simultaneously ironic and appropriate. His name is ironic because it honors two American presidents, Zachary Taylor and Abraham Lincoln. Zach’s name honors the leaders of a nation that does not grant him the true freedom for which it stands. The name is appropriate because of who these presidents were. Although Zachary Taylor was a plantation owner from the South, during his presidency he did not support slavery. Before he died in office in 1850, he proclaimed that he would lead the Army against the South if it tried to secede. Abraham Lincoln is known as the “Great Emancipator.” While his personal feelings about slavery are disputed, Lincoln remains for many an important leader in the fight to end slavery.

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