This might be counterintuitive since the white man would seem the likely arch-adversary in the civil rights dilemma-or worse, focus on the white woman might appear as an attempt to usurp the centrality of African Americans in favor of the group furthest removed from civil rights issues. And yet, the white woman was at the center of those issues.
The white woman is central to civil rights issues and to fiction that specifically and substantially depends upon the Civil Rights Movement for material because she was the supporting beams and pillars of the culture the Movement sought to dismantle. That the relationship between the white woman and the Civil Rights Movement has been neglected suggests only that the significance of this relationship has been somehow overshadowed, not that it is insignificant.
In 2002, a novel hit the New York Times best-seller list. The setting was the rural South in the late sixties, just after the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The main characters, take refuge with a family of women who live in a house on the outskirts of town. The book is Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life of Bees. Its heroine, Lily Owens, thus achieves spiritual transcendence through communal living with a family of women, self-styled religious rituals, and racial integration. Kidd's novel exemplifies the two trends that have emerged most clearly in American women's fiction over the last quarter of the twentieth-century: the move on the part of women writers to a creative and individualized religious practice rather than a traditional institutionalized one, and the examination of the intersections of religion, gender and race as they shape identity.
Everything from the novel line to the references of the Civil Rights Movement occurring in 1960's makes the story more realistic. Although Kidd doesn't believe that any of the characters are drawn specifically from her own life, she did draw from details and recollections of her adolescence for the actions and mannerisms of many of the characters. Also, at the beginning of every chapter and from one of the characters in the novel itself, we are shown the scientific facts about bees and a life in a bee hive.
This makes the novel itself is not only more interesting, but it gives it a uniqueness unlike any other. Kidd has stated that she drew inspiration from the honeybees that lived in a wall of her house in Georgia while she was growing up, providing a frame for her novel. She remembers the humming sound of the bees and the honey that seeped out of the wall. She said that she imagined a young girl lying in bed with bees sifting through the cracks in the wall and the thoughts that may have surrounded her life.
Throughout the novel there is an important theme of death giving way to life. In the very beginning of the novel, Lily says "People who think dying is the worst thing don't know a thing about life" (2). Here, we see how Lily's life has been profoundly affected by her mother's death. This statement suggests that living with someone else's death can be more painful than dying. In this case, Deborah's death has