The American Dream In The Secret Life Of Bees

Good Essays
The “American dream,” as defined by James Truslow Adams, is the dream of “a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.” Everyone, regardless of gender or skin color, strives to attain this dream of success. In The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, characters such as Lily, a young white girl who tries to seek out the truth about her mother, and Rosaleen, Lily’s African American housekeeper who aspires for freedom, strive for the same goal of the “American dream.” However, Lily’s path and Rosaleen’s path to success differ widely due to their roles in society and how society views each of them. Therefore, throughout the novel, “the American dream” is …show more content…
Black people in the 1960’s and even today, still face these challenges of not being confident in what they choose to do professionally. During the 1960’s, when black people were finally legal to vote in America, it was still very difficult for them to be eligible. Rosaleen, at multiple points in the novel, stated that she wanted to register to vote. However, during her first attempt to register to vote, she was attacked by multiple white men “yelling for her to apologize and clean their shoes” (32). At this point, Rosaleen had done nothing to apologize for, yet they were assailing her with misogyny and racism, even though she only wanted to vote. Due to the sole reason that Rosaleen could not do the simple task of registering to vote without being tormented by racists and misogynists, it establishes that people of color face harassment even when following the simplest of goals. In the same way, Zach, Lily’s friend, had always dreamed of being a lawyer, even though he knew he could never reach this desire because he is black. Society had always told him that due to the segregation he experienced, he could not attain his aspiration. Lily, after hearing him say this, explained that she believed he …show more content…
White people will always be more privileged than people of color in all aspects of life despite their tries of attempts of acknowledging these struggles. Lily, at multiple occasions throughout the novel, displays this behavior toward people of color, African Americans particularly, for the obvious reason that she is white. When staying at the Boatwright house, where her mother’s housekeeper, August, lived along with her sisters, Lily thinks about her stay at the house and is surprised that August is more “cultured” and “intelligent” than any other black women she’d ever known, to which she immediately thought that she “had some prejudice buried inside of [her]” (78). During this instance, Lily revealed to herself as well as the reader the bias she held toward African Americans that they are “unintelligent” and “uncultured” usually, with August being the “exception.” Lily’s prejudice serves as an example of how white people view people of color, especially black people, as being people who are beneath them. Lily also shows her inherent racism toward the black people in her life when talking about how her relationship with her housekeeper, Rosaleen. Lily had always wished that Rosaleen had been her mother and had “daydreams in which she was white and married to T. Ray and became my

Related Documents

  • Decent Essays

    Unfortunately, at my age I find I am at loss on how to fix the problems and differences that have been present for as long as anyone can remember. Every society has persecuted another group of people, no matter the race, but none of these problems have ever been resolved. No matter how much you educate your society on the damaging effects of systematic racism, there is always going to be people who believe they are superior to the other group. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to break the circle of discrimination involved with racism, however I find that if someone is a hardcore racist they always will be no matter what you say to them. Everyone wants to believe they are right and that they are superior to others, which I think is why racism still remains a significant issue in our society.…

    • 1054 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    He stated that “They ran all over the mom. They didn’t even respect her, so why would they respect me?” He added, “They’re so wrapped up in a different culture than--- what I’m trying to say is, the right culture, the better one to pick from.” He is blaming black mothers of not teaching their children manners and how to behave around people. He can 't judge black mothers base off of how a blind mother raised her children. When black mothers read this article, their perception of Wilson will be worst than before because he questioned their ability of how to raise their children. when he stated “the right culture, the better one to pick from”, that means he believe other cultures are better than black culture.…

    • 812 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    If Black people are not getting support from others they must provide support for themselves. Wright wants readers to understand how it felt to have your own people not striving for change but instead putting themselves down, while there is already an entire race also pinning you down. Wright also expresses the negative attitudes of black people when talking about racism. When Richard was young, he had many questions and had yet to comprehend the concept of racism. when white man beats a black boy, Richard had assumes that it was…

    • 1201 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    They especially had no real protection as officers would participate in it as well. In order to save themselves and their family, they had to follow the social regulations given to them by whites, however, the shackles imposed on the blacks were tight, not giving them much room to live. This lifestyle took its toll on the black’s mentality as it made them wonder the meaning of life and question why such deep hatred was targeted towards them. Angelou explains in her autobiography that when “one sees the traumatic fear and humiliation…lynching inspires…one understands that to resist the racial status quo was to risk death” (Wallace 26). Despite the warnings from her grandma, Angelou tried multiple times to push the boundaries set by the white society.…

    • 851 Words
    • 4 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    This movie takes place around the time of the Civil Rights Movement so racism is at its peak. Skeeter, is a white journalist that realizes the horrible racism that is going on around her and wants to bring it to the public. Skeeter was raised by a black maid herself and was one of the very few people during the 1960’s who realized the good that they do and the kind of people they are. Since Skeeter respected the colored people in her community she decided to go against her ethics, and her friends, by asking their maids to tell their stories about racism and their life. The women talked about how they couldn’t use the bathrooms of the families they worked for, or how the mothers of the children they watch do not care for their children in any way.…

    • 1088 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Through Pauline Breedlove we get an image of an adult black woman who learned to hate their own black and in turn take it out on their children by teaching them to do the same. She often perpetuates the belief that Pecola is ugly and emotional and verbally abuses her daughter constantly. However, Morrison does a good job of humanizing even the darkest characters; by the end of the novel we are sympathetic. Pauline experiences different, in some ways more subtle, isolation and humiliation; she blames her bad foot for most of it. Many of the other women acted snobby towards her and thus she retreated into herself and her loneliness.…

    • 1341 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    She later quit because she felt like they were racist, but yet didn’t have a fundamental evidence to prove it. Her only backup during her conversation with Bob was that “It wasn’t that obvious. I was the first black person they had hired, and just didn’t feel like I fit in. It wasn’t a comfortable place for a black person to work” (line 16). I don’t agree with her quitting, she didn’t have a fundamental reason for her to feel like they were being racist.…

    • 1229 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    By ignoring these affairs, they allowed the hatred against colored people to culminate and spread from region to region. After freedmen secured the right to vote and serve jury duty, people still found reasons to attack blacks. To some people, blacks were too ignorant and unfit to serve to serve on a jury (Document D), and it proves that the reforms during this era had nearly nothing to do with racial relations. By claiming blacks had no right to be on a jury, it proves that no social equality was achieved during Reconstruction because people continuously kicked color people to the bottom of the social hierarchy. People were too stubborn to accept that blacks were equal to whites and that they had every right to be working for the government (Document G).…

    • 1021 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    Race As A Social Construct

    • 1274 Words
    • 6 Pages

    Before I knew about cultural racism, but I never really knew about it. I never really understood racism as having different subsets, let alone cultural racism, but now having this knowledge I am able to place it on actual events and ideas. There were arguments by Moynihan saying “slavery and racism had detrimental consequence on the black family”. Which in some senses is true; during the time of slavery, parents who were slaves had no control over their family dynamics and it was also very much in the air about when or if your family would be split up. Moynihan also gendered the argument, blaming black poverty on the black women.…

    • 1274 Words
    • 6 Pages
    Decent Essays
  • Decent Essays

    They don't work or go to school, lazy, that they gonna be a bad influence on me. I remember my parents being so disappointed with my older cousin because she was dating a black guy. Didn't make sense to me because since black people are African, I thought were the same people. They believed the negative stereotype because that's the only thing the media…

    • 1210 Words
    • 5 Pages
    Decent Essays