Among the Bumblebees

Among the Bumblebees (short story) by Sylvia Plath

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“Among the Bumblebees” is a story written by the lovely Sylvia Plath. It’s about the young girl, Alice Denway and how she feels about losing her father. Through the entire story, there are a lot of descriptions about her family; her mother, brother and most importantly, her father. There are also flashbacks and childhood memories, where the most essential one is “catching of the bumblebees in summer”. There are a lot of descriptions concerning the day-to-day life and how she teases her younger brother. Through the story, it is clear that the father is the most important character. There are a lot of hints that characterizes him, his work and how Alice looks up to him as a role model. Most importantly, she tells about his sickness and death.

The father is a tall man who shows a lot of authority, stubbornness and strong opinions. An example that underlines it is the following sentence: ”the water obeying the skillful mastery of her father’s rhythmic stroke”. The water “obeys” him (personification) because of his personality as the powerful man.
Alice fears him but still has a lot of respect towards her father and worships him (as said directly in the story) , as an example, when she describes his eyes as “overhead dome of sky” or his laughter as “breaking waves”. She also uses these sentences to describe him: “strong and proud, and his voice would be hard, with a sharp edge to it”. She even describes him as “a king” and a “tame lion” – last mentioned symbolizes the fact that the father at first seems powerful and creates fear in people’s eyes and in the same time, he is kind and harmless (as something tamed) .

Through the story, there are a lot of flashback memories between Alice and her father, for example; seeing him correcting papers, swimming in the ocean and most importantly, catching bumblebees in the garden. All of these flashbacks are well-described, which symbolize the strong impression of the love Alice feels towards her father and her deep respect for him. She remembers it as if it was yesterday, as an example: the father swimming in the ocean. She uses personifications to describe this memory – following sentences: “small waves collapsing at her feet” and “blinding glare of summer sun that struck silent and brilliant on the surface of the water”.

“Among the Bumblebees” is a very important memory to the narrator. It describes one of her favorite memories with her father. Every summer, they go in the garden and he catches bumblebees, hold them inside of his hands and then let them go. The first time, Alice realizes that he is ill and it actually is serious is the fact that one summer he cannot go in the garden with her.
“Bumblebee” could also be a symbol for the father. Bumblebees are big, mad and for the most, very angry. They can sting and bite but also be very gentle and harmless if you treat them nicely. Furthermore, it is also known that scientists use alcohol to kill a bumblebee for scientific reasons and examinations. Here is also a similarity between the bumblebee and the father. When Alice walks around in the living room, where the father is lying, there is a strong and sweet smells of alcohol – the father passes away right after this.

In this short story, there are several things which can be drawn to Sylvia Plath’s own life and childhood. Therefore she beautifully shows how a young girl (herself) deals with the reality of death, losing a loved-one and how it affect one’s childhood and adolescent life.

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