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Little Bee

Rae Hamilton's picture

Hey, I was just wondering if anyone else finished Little Bee. Looking at the syllabus, I seriously doubt we will be able to dedicate all the time needed to the novel. So I thought here was a good space to start. I both hated and loved Little Bee. I loved it for the simple fact that it was a great book, with compelling characters, and a subtle but important political message. Yet, I hated the book for the same reasons, it was so sad, so deep and profound, I feel like a weight has been added to my mind. I finished the book wondering if I was suppose to feel hopeful or desolate. Even though I finished it some days ago, I am still not sure if Little Bee, is a gritty story that offers hope or a hopeful story that has its gritty moments. Also, the time in which we read the book impacted me greatly. Thanksgiving, to me has always been a holiday where America is at its least petty. We have so much to be grateful for, and Little Bee has reminded me of that fact. I wish I could keep all the feelings I have for this book and apply to my daily life, in the hopes that I could remember to be thankful. 

On another note, how does everyone feel on Little Bee becoming a movie, with Nicole Kidman playing Sarah?!?


melal's picture

Though it is a sad story, I

Though it is a sad story, I really enjoy the whole reading process. Different from reading any academic essay, I feel less pressure on myself when I read little bee for not have t to think about any thesis that the writer wants to explain.  I was kind of surprised that though the book was named by Little Bee, not everyone thinks she is the most important character of the book—when we called out the names of characters in the book, she was the only fourth one mentioned by us. It seems to me that Little Bee is not as “attractive” as other characters. I can feel a strong sense of sympathy for her, but except this, I really can’t tell how I feel about her. She experienced so much that most of us will never experience during our whole lives, these pains left scars on her, making her exceptionally mature and considerable. But I also found a kind of numbness—she always calm, never shouts out to express her anger or sorrow, I even can’t remember if she ever cried…for me, Little Bee, as a sixteen-year-old girl, can never have curiosity and passion that other normal girls at her age have for life.


nbnguyen's picture

This novel includes not only

This novel includes not only ambivalent details (entertaining while tragic) but also ambiguous characters. I have the feeling that no characters, except for Charlie, are morally good or bad. They have duplicated natures with the regular conflicts between noble purposes and self-interest. We can't decide whether Sarah or Little Bee is morally better than Andrew based on their split second action. Many people will act like Andrew if they are in the same situation. Sarah is not always determined enough to give up her job to follow her noble purposes.Even Lawrence, the character I hate most in the novel, is not totally a bad person.  He is just the same as normal person, who doesn't want to disturb or devoted his peaceful life to a stranger. However, he finally supports Sarah to do what she wants. The ambiguous characters make the novel become very realistic. The conflict between self-interest and noble purposes always exists in human nature. \

Serendip Visitor's picture

Well said Nancy. We all

Well said Nancy. We all sometimes have to fight this internal battles. It is often more difficult to act for the good of all than for the good of one. Andrew couldn't sacrifice his finger to save Nkiruka, and later on, Little Bee chose to save her neck than Andrew's. What makes it worse is that our society actively promotes a 'what's in it for me' attitude. Therefore, we cannot write Andrew or Lawrence off as utterly selfish. Its complicated.

kganihanova's picture

Little Bee

Katie, I agree with you. This book is definitely fated to be a movie by virtue of the fact that it is extraordinarily positive. That is not to say that life cannot be as positive as Little Bee paints it at the end but I would've loved a more developed ending with hardship included as well. Movies must end happily or unhappily, in between and that is why I think that this book was fated to be a movie.

Utitofon's picture

Mixed feelings

Yes Rae, this was my second reading, but I was amazed at how reading it with the backdrop of our discussions on class heightened my sensitivity and influenced my reaction  to several statements and events in the novel. I could spot the differences and similarities in viewpoints of middle class Sarah and lower class Little Bee. There were also subtle and sometimes direct references to race. The story is so compelling, that I sought solace in the knowledge that it was fiction though used to capture very concrete societal issues. Of course there were times I felt that it was portraying my country in bad light, like the emphasis on little Bee having to explain simple concepts to the girls back home. But I got over that resentment, afterall that was appropraite for the village setting. Moreover, the bigger picture is representative not necessarily of a particular country but of the unbridled greed and inhumanity that motivates the world's governments to subjugate, silence and vaporize the powerless to keep themselves on top. That is why we have witnessed and continue to witness several protest against opressive rule from North Africa to North America. It also highlights how language is used as a political tool, like a fellow student told me yesterday, "everyone has to learn our language, so we dont really have to bother to learn those of others". I am excited for the class discussion.

Katie Randall's picture

(Also, I'm reading this book

(Also, I'm reading this book for a different class from you-- some other students' thoughts about it are here /exchange/courses/PPPP/f11/conversation )

Katie Randall's picture

I was also ambivalent about

I was also ambivalent about Little Bee... it was emotionally hard to read, and left me thinking what now? It dealt with raw emotion, mostly very well, but part of me resents having my heartstrings pulled like that. The beginning of the novel started out with promise and life and a voice (Little Bee's voice) like no one I'd ever heard, and the ending just didn't satisfy me. The issues are important, the characters feel real, but somehow in the end I felt manipulated. I wanted to see Little Bee alive at the end, not living happily ever after but living and struggling and surviving and defying-- because it was her story. It was always Little Bee's voice that I was more interested in hearing; Sarah seemed more like her foil than anything else. To end with Sarah on her writer's mission and Charlie somehow symbolically carrying hope for the future felt all wrong. I wanted to know what Little Bee would do, not what others would do for her or about her.