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Book Report About The Little Bee

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 2811 words Published: 1st May 2017

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The beach in Nigeria is the place that Andrew and Sarah first met Little Bee and her sister. It is where Andrew refused to cut off his finger and where Sarah cut her own finger instead to save Little Bee’s life. The beach is important because it is where the action happened that changed the characters’ lives. After the incident on the beach Andrew completely changed because of his guilt of not saving the girls’ lives. Also, because of what happened on the beach, Little Bee was able to escape from the soldiers and go to England, which saved her life. At the end of the novel, Sarah, Little Bee, and Charlie revisit that same beach. This time the soldiers attempt to take Charlie’s life just as they had tried to take Little Bee’s two years before, but it is Little Bee who risks her life in order to save Charlie. Little Bee grabs Charlie and take his out of danger, and the soldiers then take Little Bee away. Little Bee plays the role of the savior just as Sarah had done. Sarah cannot save Little Bee this time, but Little Bee could save Charlie.

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Sarah’s house in Kingston

Kingston is the city that Sarah’s house is located in England. Little Bee comes this house to live with Sarah, finding the address on Andrew’s driver’s license. Here, she meets Charlie and Lawrence. Little Bee also forms a close bond with Sarah. She is a great help to Sarah by taking care of Charlie and helping her in times when she feels weak and flustered. The house unites Sarah, Charlie, and Little Bee all under one roof, not only physically, but also spiritually as they form into one family.


Little Bee first passes through the busy streets of London by herself while walking to Kingston. She is frightened by the great number of people to whom she refers to as “ghosts.” The second time she goes to London she is accompanied by Sarah, Charlie, and Lawrence. This time, her view of the city is much more appreciative. Here she realizes that the people in London can experience a special kind of freedom, even if they are not white. She sees an interracial couple that consisted of a black man and a white woman who have a light brown child. Little bee is astonished at the mix of culture and at the fact that this family can live a normal life, something that would be unheard of in Nigeria. Little Bee realizes that she can have her own independent life in London, but she realizes that she cannot leave Sarah and Charlie as they have become her family.

Plot Summary:

Udo and Nkiruka are Nigerian sisters who witnessed terrible crimes committed against the people of her village by the oil men. Meanwhile, Andrew Sarah had decided to take a vacation in Nigeria to patch up their marriage after Sarah cheated on Andrew with Lawrence. The couple was walking happily along the beach when suddenly they found themselves in the middle of a huge conflict. The soldiers found Udo and her sister who had changed their names to Little Bee and Nkiruka. The leader of the soldiers told Andrew that he had to cut off his middle finger in order to rescue the lives of the girls, but Andrew refused. Sarah quickly took the machete and cut her own middle finger on the sand in a heroic attempt to save the girls.

Andrew became increasingly depressed after the incident and their marriage collapsed. Little Bee escaped by a boat after the men had murdered her sister and she arrived in England where she was taken to a detention center. She managed to escape and called Andrew to tell him that she was going to visit him. When she got there she hid in the bushes but finally Andrew saw her and hung himself. On the day of the funeral Little Bee saw Sarah, and she began to stay at her house. They became as close as family. After a while, the police discovered Little Bee and flew her back to Nigeria, and Sarah and Charlie accompanied them. In Nigeria, Sarah decided to continue Andrew’s research and write a book. They traveled together and gathered stories from other women who went through the same thing as Little Bee. At the beach, Charlie finally agrees to take off his bat costume, and Little Bee is taken away by the soldiers, but she is happy.


One must face problems in order to get over them rather than try to run away.

Little Bee, Andrew, and Sarah all live with tragic troubles that they all try to escape from, but are they all fail in doing so. Little Bee runs away from Nigeria to flee the men who are trying to kill her. Even though she is miles away from the murderous men, they are still so close to them in her mind. Sarah, on the other hand, is reminded of the fateful incident on the beach everyday by her missing finger. She attempts to run away from facing the reality of what happened by working and having an affair with Lawrence. Andrew could not cope with his issues at all, and he ultimately got away from his problematic life by killing himself. Little Bee and Sarah, however, started becoming more at ease with the issue when they began to get closer to one another. No matter how far the characters try to run away, their problems travel with them and do not leave them. This proves that the only way to overcome difficult problems is to accept them and seek support from someone else.

People must have compassion for foreigners.

Nobody chooses their ethnicity or birth place, so people should be kind to those who are new to their country since they are humans just the same. Little Bee did not choose to be a Nigerian immigrant, and many times she wishes to be a British pound instead because people would be more happy to see the coin that they would be to see her. This illustrates the cruel injustice that many foreigners are subjected to. They migrate to a country full of promises of peace, independence, and equality, when in fact they arrive to encounter racial injustices and to be looked down upon. Cleave shows us that a human is a human no matter where they come from, and they share the same emotions and problems as any other society. He tries to tie together to totally opposite nations to prove that humanity is the same, no matter where you are. Chris Cleave seeks to convince readers that see a foreign person to think of the previous troubles that person may have gone through, and offer a positive vibe instead of a lasting negative impression.

Fate is inescapable and can completely change the direction of one’s life.

Fate changed Little Bee, Nkiruka, Sarah, and Andrew’s lives forever during that one evening on the beach in Nigeria. What happened was not in the control of the characters, and was decided by fate. It was their fate to meet each other on that beach. Sarah could have picked any country to go on vacation to, but she ended up picking Nigeria, even though she had many other free options. She still wonders why she ever chose to go to Nigeria of all places, but it was her fate to do so. Even though at the start, everything seemed to be going badly after the incident on the beach, in the end everything worked out well. Sarah was having a hard time in her life, so having Little Bee come to live with her worked well for her as she was able to express her feelings with someone who understood what had happened to her. Even though at the beginning, the characters’ fates seemed to destroy their lives, in the end their fate allowed Sarah and Little Bee to bond and share an authentic friendship.


Charlie symbolizes innocence and future hope for the world.

Charlie’s only concern is to be batman and to destroy all the “baddies” in the world. With his childlike naivety he questions everything from a pure mindset. Charlie cannot even grasp the idea of death after Andrew dies, believing that the baddies got him when Charlie was in school. He categorizes people as either goodies or baddies and tries to eliminate all the baddies from his life. Charlie symbolizes the future good that will prevail in the world, as he will grow to be a man who tries to prevent all evil with his bravery and good heart.

The use of fake names symbolizes the act of running away from the truth.

In the novel, both Udo and Charlie do not use their real names. Charlie prefers to be called Batman, and believes himself to actually be Batman. By using this alter name, Charlie thinks that he can have all of Batman’s qualities and kill all the baddies in the world. In reality, however, Charlie is running away from the truth and using an alter ego in order to try to fix the reality in which he is living in. Charlie tries to be Batman so that he can save his dad from the baddies that he believes have got to him. Charlie hides behind his exterior costume to present himself as a hero who can save his family from destruction, and it his own way to assure himself that everything will be alright. Udo also goes by a name that is not her birth name, Little Bee. Udo gives herself this name while hiding from the soldiers. The name is very important to her character because she tries to be a little bee and fly away from all her past hardships. She is running away from who she really is by changing her accent and adjusting her life to her new environment.

Friendship symbolizes a healing treatment.

Sarah, Andrew, and Little Bee all live tragic lives after they met in Nigeria. Andrew becomes isolated and finally commits suicide because of his inability to cope with his problems and guilty feelings. Sarah and Little Bee, however, are able to overcome the problems they faced by aiding each other. Despite their differences, they become friends that have an unbreakable bond. Their friendship helps them both to continue on living, unlike Andrew. Andrew did not let anybody enter his life, so he was not cured of his depression. Sarah and Little Bee’s friendship restores them back to their lively selves and alleviates them from the pain that they were experiencing before.


“She saw the white woman put her own left hand down on the hard sand, and she saw her pick up the machete, and she saw her chop of her middle finger with one simple chip, like a girl topping a carrot, neatly, on a quiet Surrey Saturday, between gymkhana and lunch. She saw her drop the machete and rock back on her heels, holding her hand” (Cleave, 115).

This image is of Sarah cutting off her middle finger with a machete. It is a horrifying and disturbing image that has a lot of power on the reader. After reading this passage, readers may question themselves if they would be able to chop of one of their fingers. Also, Sarah gains a lot of respect in this section since she was able to do something that many may consider impossible for them to do. The image of Sarah cutting off her own finger is an picture that remains with the reader throughout the entire book.

Little Bee says:

And I went to a movie and I had to kill myself there? I would throw myself down from the projection gallery. Or a restaurant? I would hide in the biggest refrigerator and go into a long, cool sleep. Or the seaside? Ah, at the seaside, I would steal and ice-cream van and drive it into the sea. […]. The only thing to show that a frightened African girl had ever existed would be two thousand melting ice creams, bobbing, in their packets on the cool blue waves (Cleave, 47).

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– This quote shows Little Bee’s determinedness to kill herself before the men get a chance to kill her. She would much rather kill herself by her own hand than give them men the satisfaction of killing her as they had done with her sister. It illustrates how much Little Bee was affected by Nkiruka’s death. It also provokes the reader to feel sadness for Little Bee because she has been accustomed to imagining herself dead rather than alive, something which is not normal for a teenage girl to do. Little Bee has seen so much in the world that she feels she could be safer dead than alive.

Little Bee thinks:

The gasoline flowing through the pump made a high-pitched sound, as if the screaming of my family was still dissolved in it. The nozzle of the gasoline hose went right inside the fuel tank of Sarah’s car, so the transfer of the fluid was hidden…If it looks the way is smells on a rainy morning, then I suppose it must flash like the most brilliant happiness, so intense that you would go blind or crazy if you even looked at it (Cleave, 181).

Here, Little Bee makes a connection between Nigeria and England, as gasoline is part of her life in both places. In Nigeria, gasoline was used to burn her village during the oil war and kill the people of her village. When Little Bee sees the gas pump in the gas station, she is reminded of the horrors that happened in her hometown. Little Bee’s comments are based on her lack of understanding about the way life works in England. She imagines how gasoline looks based on her experienced of how it smelled on a rainy morning in after her village was burned down. This quote represents a main idea in the novel, how Little Bee is able to merge her Nigerian and English lives together as she tries to grasp new ideas as well as become at ease with old memories.

Significance of title:

Little Bee is the name that Udo gave herself when she and her sister were hiding from the men. Her name signifies a lot about her character. She always wants to fly and escape from the situations she is put in, by running away or even by dreaming up ways to kill herself. She flies to England, where she hopes to find a different future waiting for her, but when she becomes closer with Sarah, she realizes that instead of running away from her fears, she needs to share the problems she went through with the only person who understands, Sarah. At the end of the book Little Bee reveals her real name, Udo, which shows that she has lost the need to keep everything a secret and hide from her past. She can finally embrace the person she is by feeling comfortable about her past as well as the person she has become.

Writer’s techniques:


Andrew failed to do the morally right decision at the critical moment in which he had to choose between his finger and the lives of two Nigerian girls. Andrew chose not to cut off his finger and subsequently not to save the girls’ lives. Sarah, on the other hand, was able to select the more honorable choice and cut off her finger. Because of his inability to cut his finger off, Andrew lived the rest of his life in a chronic state of depression. He was unable to look back on the incident without feeling guilt for not rescuing a girl’s life. It is ironic that it is Sarah’s own unmoral affair that led to the couple’s vacation on the beach but she was the one who made the humane decision. Even after their return to England, Sarah continued on with her affair with Lawrence with no shame. Andrew, who was unable to do the right thing for just a moment, ended up spending what was left of his life in regret, while Sarah, whose long term affair lasted even after Andrew’s death, was able to continue on with her life without feeling apologetic for her actions.


Throughout the novel, Little Bee has several flashbacks about her Nigerian village, her sister, as well as the period of terror she lived through when the men where after her. These flashbacks provide a contrast between the old and new worlds of Little Bee, Nigeria and England. They also show how Little Bee has matured since her escape from Nigeria and how her views of the world differ.


Cleave uses humor frequently in Little Bee. Little Bee’s recollections of her life in Nigeria, her first encounter with England’s norms, and the predicted reaction the Nigerian girls would have if they heard Little Bee’s story are all filled with humor. Cleave injects funny stories and comments into his book to reduce the tension in the more serious parts of the novel.


Since there are two narrators in the novel, Sarah and Little Bee, Cleave helps the reader differentiate the two characters with their style of wording. Sarah speaks like the typical English woman she is, by using colloquial speech. Little Bee’s speech, on the other hand, is free of contractions and it becomes obvious to the reader the Little Bee is trying hard to get rid of any hints of her native pronunciation from her accent as she tries to adopt an English accent to fit in better. Cleave makes Little Bee talk this way to show how she is trying to hide her past from others.


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