“The Secret Life of Bees uses the Black Madonna as an important symbol of women leadership. As August tells Lily, “Our Lady is not some magical being out there somewhere, like a fairy godmother. She’s not in the statue in the parlor. She’s something inside you” (Kidd, 288). This statement is the most important words of wisdom Lily receives throughout the entire novel. The statue in the parlor of the Boatwright home is just that: a statue. Lily learns that it isn’t the statue that she needs to give her strength, but the idea it represents.
It tells the story of a woman who broke chains, who escaped fate and inspired generations to come. These are the exact things that Lily does to find her new family and break away from T. Ray. “I leaned into them, felt them close around me. One thing is beautiful beyond my words to say it; August holding you” (Kidd, 238). Lily spends the whole novel on a search for her mother’s story, as well as her own. She wanted to know the reasons why her mother left, and realized how unprepared she was for the truth when August told her.
Lily is too wrapped up in the idea of her biological mother, she forgets about what a mother really is. The Virgin Mary, the Black Madonna’s other form, is history’s example of a mother. She is sensitive and firm, relatable and Divine. The Black Madonna is who teaches Lily that she has mothers all around her. Rosaleen’s protection, May’s caring, and August’s love, Lily finds a mother in everyone around her, including herself. As stated at the end of the novel, “She is a muscle of love, this Mary” (Kidd, 302). “