The novel, The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd, can be classified as several different sub-genres. The most fitting sub-genre for the novel, is feminist novel. A feminist novel can be defined as, fiction or nonfiction literature which supports the feminist goals of defining, establishing and defending equal civil, political, economic and social rights for women. The theme of female power and domination is present throughout the novel.
One of the themes presented by the author is the lack of gender roles, the presence of gender equality, and woman power. One instance where women power is present is the fact that Zach (a male) was working for females. This helps to backup the theme because it shows women to be above a man. Another example of female power in the novel is the Our Lady statue. When Lily first walked into the Boatwright’s home she said, “Then I turned around and looked back toward the door where I’d come in. Over in the corner was a carving of a woman nearly three feet tall.” (70) The worship of the statue shows respect, worth, and power to women because of the fact that a woman (Mary) would be worshipped in replace of a male (God/Jesus.) These two examples shows the theme of woman power in that they show that men are not superior to women.
An instance in the novel that proves this to be a feminist novel, is a quote by August when her and Lily were talking about their pasts, August said “I decided against marrying altogether. There were enough restrictions in my life without someone expecting me to wait on him hand and foot. Not that I’m against marrying, Lily. I’m just against how it’s set up.” (145) This quote shows August’s perception of marriage, how the male controls the female, and shows how she decided not to live in a life where men controlled women. This example proves this to be a feminist novel because it shows how August did not allow a man to control her life, as she believed he would if she got married to him. Feminism is shown here by August making a personal decision to put herself over men.