Little Bee: A Novel Summary & Study Guide

Chris Cleave
This Study Guide consists of approximately 22 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Little Bee.
This section contains 780 words
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Little Bee: A Novel Summary & Study Guide Description

Little Bee: A Novel Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Little Bee: A Novel by Chris Cleave.

Little Bee is the second novel by writer Chris Cleave. In this novel, a young Nigerian woman is released from an immigration detention center where she has been held for two years after sneaking aboard a British tea ship. This woman, called Little Bee, makes her way to the home of Andrew and Sarah O'Rourke, the only people she knows in England. However, Andrew has recently committed suicide and Sarah is still reeling from the shock which is compounded by the sight of Little Bee, someone she had thought was dead. Little Bee is a tragic story of simple humanity that leaves the reader struck by the inevitability of life even as they learn what it means to be human.

Little Bee is released from an immigration detention center only to learn that one of the other three girls also released the same day as her convinced an official at the center to have them all released without the proper paperwork. Little Bee calls Andrew, a man she once met on a beach in Nigeria, and tells him she is coming to see him. However, the girls cannot get a taxi and find themselves staying on a small farm across from the detention center. In the middle of the night, one of the other girls kills herself. Afraid that she will be sent back to Nigeria, Little Bee runs off into the night in search of Andrew O'Rourke.

Five days after Little Bee's phone call, Sarah Summers O'Rourke receives a visit by the police at work and learns that her husband hanged himself. Sarah coasts through the next five days, struggling to deal with her own grief as well as her guilt. Sarah has been having an affair for more than two years and feels that her affection for her husband died long ago. However, Sarah misses Andrew deeply and feels that she should have been able to save his life if she had been aware of and been able to fight his growing depression. Sarah blames herself for Andrew's depression, not only because of the effect her affair had on him, but also because it was this affair that inspired her to take Andrew on a Nigerian holiday two years ago and it is what happened on that distant Nigerian beach that Sarah knows led to her husband's depression and death.

On the morning of the funeral, Little Bee knocks on Sarah's door. Sarah lets her stay, taking her to the funeral along with her four year old son. That night, Sarah asks Little Bee to tell her the story of what happened on the beach that fateful day. Little Bee describes how she and her sister had fled the men hired by the oil companies to kill everyone in their village. However, the men came after them because they could not leave witnesses. Early one morning the girls had reached the edge of the jungle. As they waited for dawn, they saw a white couple walking along the beach, visitors from a nearby hotel compound. The sounds of dogs in the distance frightened the girls and they came out of the jungle and begged for help. The white couple, not understanding their situation, began to leave. However, a group of men with machetes marched out of the jungle and surrounded them. They wanted to take the girls and kill them, but the white woman refused to let them go. The leader asked the white man to cut off his finger in exchange for the girls' lives, but he could not do it. The woman did, however, and the leader promised to spare one of the girls before he dragged them both away.

Sarah learns that after the men dragged her and her sister away, Little Bee was forced to listen to the men rape and murder her sister. Afterward, Little Bee walked until she came across the British tea ship that would take her to England. Now Little Bee wants to help Sarah through the death of her husband, to return the favor in which Sarah saved her life. Sarah pledges to help Little Bee become a legal immigrant in Britain, but before she can, a visit to the river ends in the disappearance of Sarah's son, Charlie. Little Bee calls the police to find Charlie and the police arrest her. Little Bee is soon deported. Sarah travels with her and stays in a hotel with her to protect her from the military police. However, when Little Bee requests that they go to the beach so that she might say goodbye to her sister, they are overrun by soldiers and Little Bee is arrested.

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This section contains 780 words
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