An Analysis Of Childhood In Sue Monk Kidd's The Secret Life Of Bees

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Stories about children have always captivated humans young and old. From poems and short books written for children about children to autobiographies written about childhood for adults, youth has always been a fascinating topic. Perhaps this is because childhood brings a unique innocence and magic to any story. Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees and Leo Tolstoy’s Childhood both detail scenes from the protagonist’s childhood. In the first chapter of The Secret Life of Bees, Kidd describes her protagonist’s living father, deceased mother, and how they relate to the bees she becomes fascinated with one summer. In the first chapter of Childhood, “The Tutor, Karl Ivanitch,” Tolstoy describes his tutor’s mannerisms and methods. Although both…show more content…
Since her mother’s death, Rosaleen, a worker on the farm, raised her because her father is more concerned with business. Tolstoy was probably primarily raised by Karl, as his parents were wealthy and could afford the luxury of a tutor. Both of these situations are subtly used to create pity for the children. In addition to characters, the excerpts vary in diction and syntax. The Secret Life of Bees employs casual, informal, and conversational diction, making it seem like the child is narrating the story. Childhood uses more formal diction, although it still has a childlike feel. The Secret Life of Bees utilizes description-based and short sentences to retain the innocent air of a young teen’s speech. Childhood relies heavily on description as well, but the sentences tend to be longer, which enforces the idea that the story is told about a child from an adult’s…show more content…
Both Lily and young Tolstoy mature through their stories, but Lily’s story focuses on her growth and Tolstoy’s focuses on his environment. Lily and young Tolstoy both have a genuinely childlike outlook on their surroundings. Their supporting characters are similar in purpose; neither Lily nor young Tolstoy have parents who are active in their lives but rather an assistant or tutor hired by their parents. The Secret Life of Bees uses more relaxed and innocent diction and syntax while Childhood is more formal and mature. The Secret Life of Bees has a childishly matter-of-fact tone and Childhood uses an innocently introspective tone and style. The spiritual content in both is flawed, but is common in today’s church. Both stories leave the reader with a compassion and understanding of the children and their lives. The Secret Life of Bees and Childhood portray the innocence of children in vastly different ways but effectively communicate the timeless struggles of
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