Bee Season: A Novel - Pages 200 (BOTTOM) - 274 Summary & Analysis

Myla Goldberg
This Study Guide consists of approximately 34 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Bee Season.
This section contains 1,927 words
(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)

Pages 200 (BOTTOM) - 274 Summary

After her late-night escapade, Miriam comes downstairs for breakfast. At first, she cannot remember where the egg-sized lump on the back of her head came from. Saul is surprised to see his wife in anything other than work clothes and greets Miriam affectionately, mostly for Eliza's benefit. Moments later, Miriam bolts from the kitchen. Eliza finally realizes that Saul and Miriam are no longer sleeping in the same bed.

Aaron tells Chali that he wants to live at the ISKCON temple. Chali seems pleased, telling Aaron that not everyone feels so strongly after their first weekend. Aaron wants to undergo devotee training and vows to have a new spiritual name by his eighteenth birthday.

While Miriam is in the shower, Saul knocks and asks his wife if she needs ice for the bump on the back of her head. Miriam feels another house pulling at her subconscious. Saul suggests that they all dine together that evening, in honor of Aaron's homecoming.

Eliza and Saul continue with their studies. Eliza is convinced that her parents' separation has something to do with her. She becomes more determined than ever to reach "shefa."

Miriam finds the house she has been waiting for. The house is dilapidated and in total disrepair. The door comes loose from its hinges when she opens it. Miriam sees a dead dog's carcass in one of the room. Miriam takes a photograph of a young girl and leaves the house.

Upon his return home, Aaron knows that things have changed. He tells Eliza that instead of going camping, he went to a place "[for] people who want to get closer to God" (p. 210). Eliza informs Aaron that Saul and Miriam do not sleep in the same bed anymore. She promises not to tell Saul that Aaron did not go camping.

At dinner, Miriam's shocking appearance worries Saul, Aaron, and Eliza. She arrives home late, the food is cold. Miriam's clothes are disheveled and stained, her hair is tangled and she smells "like she's been sorting through week-old garbage" (p. 211). When Saul makes Miriam look at herself in the mirror, Miriam is horrified.

When their parents do not return to the dinner table, Eliza and Aaron clean the kitchen. Eliza sleeps in Aaron's bed that night. Aaron's bed has always been a sort of refuge for Eliza.

Saul waits until Miriam cleans herself up and then holds her in his arms for the remainder of the evening. Miriam dreams of seeing her dead parents in the house where she found the photograph.

Early the next morning, Elly returns to her own room. She hears Aaron chanting japa and feels close to him again.

Eliza is placed in Ms. Paul's sixth grade class. With the change of seasons, things seem to have returned to normal in the Naumann home. However, Aaron continues lying to Saul to cover for the times he spends at the ISKCON temple. Aaron claims to be involved in a number of extra-curricular activities, including debate team.

Miriam begins coming home at 6pm again. No mention of the day of Aaron's homecoming dinner is ever made.

While Saul and Eliza eat dinner alone one evening, Saul receives a phone call informing him that Miriam has been arrested. Saul leaves the house, instructing Eliza to wait for Aaron to return home. While she waits for her brother to arrive, Eliza sneaks into Saul's study and begins chanting the Hebrew word Adonai, in accordance with Abulafia's instructions. She chants until she is nearly exhausted. Eliza realizes that she has been waiting to hear the voice of God loudly rather than paying attention to the still, small voice within her, within the letters. Eliza falls asleep, alone in the house for the first time.

A police officer takes Saul to a storage space. In the space are all the things Miriam Naumann has stolen over the past eighteen years. The objects range from buttons to shoes, hats, scarves, feathers to artificial flowers. The officer tells Saul that Miriam refers to the storage space as her kaleidoscope. Saul becomes overwhelmed and leaves the kaleidoscope feeling sick and bewildered. Saul returns home, tucks Eliza into bed, and discovers that Aaron has not returned.

Saul finds the first thing Miriam ever stole, a pink rubber ball, in a shoe box under their bed. The next morning, Aaron has still not come home. Saul tells Eliza that Miriam is sick and has been hospitalized.

At Miriam's arraignment, she pays no attention to Saul. Saul then goes to Abington High School to look for Aaron. The school secretary tells Saul that Aaron is absent that day. Saul thinks that Aaron is simply going through an adolescent phase.

Eliza decides that her parents are getting a divorce and that Saul has made up the story of Miriam's hospitalization as a way to soften the blow.

Saul visits Miriam at Holliswood psychiatric hospital. During their conversation, Miriam tells Saul that she has never stolen anything. Miriam then explains to her husband that she has merely been reclaiming parts of herself in order to fix the world and make everything whole. Miriam expresses no remorse. When Saul hands Miriam the pink rubber ball, Miriam sees that the ball has somehow been scuffed. She becomes agitated and tells Saul to leave.

Aaron decides that he will live at the Hare Krishna temple from now on.

Saul tells Eliza the truth about Miriam and her stealing. Aaron telephones Saul that evening and tells his father that he will not be coming home. Eventually, Saul threatens to call the police and Aaron agrees to let Saul pick him up at the ISKCON temple.

After returning home, Aaron tells Saul about his Hare Krishna experience. Saul thinks that Aaron has been brainwashed by a cult. Later, Aaron attempts to explain reincarnation to Eliza, but the change in Aaron confuses her and she lashes out at him.

Saul telephones Miriam's work and is told that Miriam has not been employed there for the last ten years. Saul then learns that Miriam added Saul's name to the substantial trust left to her by her parents. The trust has been paying bills for ten years. Saul then contacts the doctors at Holliswood. The doctors assure Saul that he will receive weekly progress reports on Miriam. Miriam does not want to see Saul or anyone else.

Aaron has given Saul books to read so that Saul might understand Aaron's newfound interest in ISKCON. Since Aaron is almost eighteen, at which point he will be free to do as he chooses, Saul figures he has one year in which to change Aaron's mind. Saul promises himself that he will read the books Aaron has given him.

In school, Eliza imagines the letters which would be best to cure Miriam.

One evening, Aaron prepares dinner for Eliza and Saul. The blessing Aaron says over their dinner angers Saul. The dinner consists of undercooked chick peas in congealed butter, limp zucchini and burned rice. Aaron and Saul exchange harsh words with one another and Aaron takes his dinner to his room.

Alone in the kitchen, Eliza and Saul talk about Miriam. Eliza decides that it is time to borrow another book from her father's study. She begins reading Abulafia's "Life of the Future World" while Saul and Aaron argue upstairs.

At school, Eliza ignores the questions about Aaron's strange new clothes and her mother's status as a mental patient. All the while, Eliza is gearing up for the upcoming school spelling bee. She continues unlocking Abulafia's secrets to attaining "shefa."

During one of their nightly arguments, Saul takes away Aaron's japa beads.

Eliza fantasizes more and more about winning the national spelling bee this season. She imagines herself on the world stage—a superhero who uses her powers only for doing good.

The evening before Eliza's spelling bee, over dinner Aaron tells Saul that he thinks Saul is lying about Miriam's hospitalization. Aaron asserts that Miriam has left her family because of something Saul did. At this point, Saul tells Aaron the whole truth about Miriam's kleptomania and the kaleidoscope. Saul tells Aaron that his mother has not worked in ten years, that she was arrested for stealing from a stranger's house. He sees the shock on his children's faces and tries to apologize. Aaron slaps Saul's face.

Upstairs in her room, Eliza begins chanting as Abulafia's "Life of the Future World" suggests. Something happens and the young Eliza finally experiences "shefa." She is animal and human, divine and simultaneously corporeal. She undergoes a transformation that she does not completely understand.

The next morning, as Saul sits at the back of Eliza's classroom, it is time for the class spelling bee.

Eliza Naumann misspells the word ORIGAMI.

Pages 200 (BOTTOM) - 274 Analysis

The final section of Bee Season chronicles the complete disintegration of Miriam Naumann. Miriam's disheveled appearance at the dinner table is external evidence that she is no longer in command of her kleptomania and provides evidence that she is unraveling. Interestingly enough, the last item Miriam Naumann steals—the final missing piece of herself—is a photograph of a young girl. In a way, this act signifies the end of Miriam's career as a kleptomaniac in that she finally reclaims the girl she once was.

Eliza is now in the sixth grade. Her realization that Saul and Miriam are no longer sharing a bed is Eliza's initiation into the realm of reality. However, because she is unaware of the secrets of her parents' marriage, Eliza mistakenly attributes her mother's decline to something having to do directly with her. Childishly, Eliza convinces herself that reaching enlightenment ("shefa") will heal her family's ills. However, for a time she experiences a closeness to Aaron by not revealing the details of Aaron's weekend away from home. Her return to Aaron's bed after Miriam's breakdown represents Eliza's return to the safety of her relationship with Aaron.

Also, Aaron's re-entry into the family home after his weekend at the ISKCON temple brings with it turmoil and transition. Unlike an earlier phase during which he wanted to become a rabbi, however, it is clear just how serious Aaron is about becoming a devotee to ISKCON. Eliza's own spiritual search takes a significant turn when Eliza realizes that she has been listening for the wrong signal from God. Unlike the movies and television shows which populate her imagination, Eliza comes to understand that the voice of God (in Abulafia's teachings) is something much more subtle than Charleston Heston's God in The Ten Commandments.

By the end of Bee Season, the Naumann family is in tatters and all of their secrets have come to the fore—except for one. Aaron has decided to devote himself entirely to the Hare Krishna way of life and Miriam is hospitalized as a result of her kleptomania. For the first time in his married life, Saul Naumann realizes just who he has lived with for the last eighteen years. To his credit, however, he is able to experience compassion for his mentally ill wife. Aaron and Miriam exit the narrative as unresolved characters.

Eliza Naumann finally learns what it is to commune with God, through the use of Abulafia's principles of permutation. No justification is provided, however, for why she chooses to misspell ORIGAMI. Eliza Naumann realizes her power for the first time. She and God control the letters and attaining "shefa" is proof that spelling bees are not as important as some people might believe.

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(approx. 5 pages at 400 words per page)
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