An Affirmation of Black Culture through Revolution of Signs: A New Historicism Insight into Sue Mon Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees

Jayanthi Rajendran

DOI: 10.19085/journal.sijmas050901


The Secret Life of Bees begins with Lily’s encounter of bees in her bedroom. Bees and bee-related objects function as a central symbol and motif in the novel. Apparently, they also signify guidance and demonstrate the power of a female community through a bond of relationship. Signs and symbols study the life within the society which is a part of social, cultural and psychological relation to semiology. And, also this is a girl’s (Lily’s) journey to find the truth about her mother whereby setting the captive nanny Rosaleen free from the bondage and finally out of the cage from the confinement of her father T. Ray. Throughout this novel Lily is in search of truth about her mother and whether her mother loved her or not. Eventually, signs and truth converge at a point in understanding the whole novel in a better perspective. Thus, this paper focuses on applying the signs to the text using semiotic theory and further focus on applying the concept of new historicism to the text in the light of truth which is a matter of interpretation of culture and history through revolution whereby affirming the Black Culture and their identity in white. Reality and courage of the novel are highlighted in the scenario of culture identity.


Affirmation, culture identity, matter of interpretation, new historicism, signs, symbols

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