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B : 

B Beka Lamb By Zee Edghell (1982)

This is Belize : 

This is Belize

Setting : 

Setting This novel takes place in Belize while the country is in the midst of a cultural and social shift. Edgell adds breathtaking imagery and colors of plants and places from this Caribbean country and contrasts them with some of the cold realities of life. “As a young girl, my relatives took me upriver where I spent many holidays in the Sibun bush. At other times, I spent holidays on one of the offshore islands. So love of country came naturally to me and, of course, I knew that I lived in the most beautiful country in the world because my relatives said so, and I had great faith in them.” Zee Edgell Interview by Bernardine Evaristo BOMB 82/Winter 2003, LITERATURE

Characters : 

Characters Beka’s family: Granny Ivy, Lilla Lamb, Bill Lamb, Beka & her 2 brothers, Toycie’s Family: Toycie, Aunt Ella (toycie's aunt), Others: Soldier Tophy(the village prostitute), Emilio(Toycie's boyfriend) & his family

Plot(1992_R01_03_bekalamb2.ram) : 

Plot(1992_R01_03_bekalamb2.ram) The two main characters, Beka and Toycie represent the ongoing clash between the old and new ways of life; between what was Belize and what will be Belize. Edgell explores maturity, political, and social issues through the telling of Beka and Toycie's lives. Beka and Toycie are best friends, classmates, and neighbors. Toycie, seventeen, has a sneaky relationship with a young man of a higher class. Toycie and Beka have both been warned of getting pregnant before graduation.

Plot : 

Plot Toycie becomes pregnant in the middle of her final year in school. She is expelled and not allowed to return because the school feels, "In cases like this, we believe it is entirely up to the modesty of the girl to prevent these happenings"(Edgell, p119). Emilio, the father of Toycie's child, faces no consequences. He is not expelled from school. He will receive the education his wealthy family pays for, and when he graduates, a job that will allow him the freedoms that Toycie had anticipated for helself.

Plot : 

Plot The money Toycie's aunt had struggled to save to pay for her education was wasted. Toycie will follow in the footsteps of the women before her, like her aunt, Miss Eila, whom Beka's father said, "is a simple woman, like many of our women, in certain matters,"(Edgell, p. 120). Miss Eila lacks the means to provide adequately for herself and her family. Toycie will raise a child and struggle everyday to somehow earn a living. Early pregnancy contributes to the limited roles available to women. It begets a social cycle that girls like Beka must learn to swim against.

Plot : 

Plot As Toycie is pregnant, she needs Beka's help, and also for Emilio to marry her, but in those times, because of racial prejudice, he could not marry someone out of his ethnic group. Emilio had no plans of marrying her anyway, even though he had said he would. Toycie is emotionally and physically torn and begins to give up on life. Eventually, she loses the child, goes slowly mad and then dies on the night of a hurricane Beka's life changes with Toycie's pregnancy. Before Toycie became pregnant, Beka had lived a safe, predictable life. She had chores and she had arguments with her family, but Beka had not experienced “life”. Toycie's situation forced Beka to face bureaucracy, (official procedures) Isolation, and death.

Plot : 

Plot Beka returns to school after Toycie's expulsion and wins an essay contest. The self-doubts Beka faced her whole life start to recede. The pedestal Toycie once stood upon is now vacant. Beka has not replaced Toycie, but has begun to change into what she sees on that pedestal. “…The honeyed scent of flowering stephanotis……”

Important facts about the novel : 

Important facts about the novel The most touching part of the story is Beka's growth and maturity. She begins as a fourteen year old girl who idolizes her older friend. At the end of the story she has become more focused, mature, and aware. Beka privately mourns for Toycie because she feels no one else has mourned for her appropriately. As a freshman, Beka wins an essay contest that she thought she had no chance of winning. By winning the contest, Beka realizes that change is possible. She will not be stuck in the same poverty stricken cycle that Toycie fell victim to, but she will never forget the culture that molded her into the person she will become.

Some themes are: : 

Some themes are: Growth and Maturity In the novel Beka Lamb by Zee Edgell, Beka experiences various events that contribute to her sense of resposibility and maturity. Beka Lamb realized that she was taking her lying a little too far. She was seen to grow out of that when she accepted her mother's gift and used the book and pen as her mother had asked of her. We can use Toycie's misfortunes as a learning experience for Beka and she is able to look at that and grow from it. Toycie was a very intelligent individual and her downfall was unforseen. Beka receives a valuable life lesson from this. The tragic dilemma, the pitfalls of infatuation, the pangs of betrayal and the stigma of an unwanted pregnancy. This then can help Beka distinguish right from wrong better than she would have been able to before. Also, when Beka accepts the invitation to enter the essay competition she shows growth and maturity, as it is something that Toycie would have done. By her winning this competition, we have evidence that she has indeed grown and matured.

Education : 

Education The theme education in the novel Beka Lamb is very important because without education Beka could not get through in life. That is why Beka's grandmother pushed her so hard to get an education because she wanted her to become a successful young woman.  Beka’s father, Bill Lamb, pleads Toycie’s case and even attempts to explain to the dean the importance of school for Toycie’s future. The importance of Catholicism and education are shown through the sacrifices that people of Belize make to send their children to school, because it is not an easy task to earn enough money to pay for the tuition. Also because education is such a major part of getting out of poverty.

Changing Social Values and Political Change : 

Changing Social Values and Political Change Beka’s parents are also torn between the new and old ways of Belize. They are ready to look towards the future yet the past will not loosen its grip. Beka is caught between these two worlds. Her parents want her to forget about the old ways, but Miss Ivy will not let them forget because those ways are part of their past—a past that got them to where they are today and that she will not allow Beka to dismiss. When Zee Edgell was born, in 1940, her country, then British Honduras, was part of the British Empire. This her first novel, Beka Lamb, was published in 1982, a year after her country was born as the newly independent Belize, making it the first novel of the new nation. She expresses her feelings about this political change through the characters in her novel.

Role of Women : 

Role of Women The majority of the characters in Beka Lamb are Female. The story is told from a woman's perspective. Beka's mother stays home with the family. Beka and Toycie go to an all girls Catholic school where they are taught by nuns. The lack of male characters stands out enough to know that the omission was intentional. The story illustrates the reality of the Belize culture. Male characters work or become educated while the women maintain the homes and earn what income they can. In the novel, the few male characters have at least one fault that turns the reader away. Emilio impregnates Toycie, but then will not marry her. Bill fails to show consistent affection to his family; he often seems uninterested or too busy.

Political Change as a theme : 

Political Change as a theme Beka and Toycie represent the struggle for independence from colonization. Both Beka and Toycie are at a crucial age of growing, where new emotions and a longing for change begin. For instance, Beka is struggling for truth, as Toycie is slipping away from an otherwise successful life, by becoming involved with Emilio. The friendship represents the turmoil of political freedom that is taking place in Belize. This turmoil is also seen in the Lamb house, between Miss Ivy and Bill and Lilla Lamb. Beka is greatly influenced by her grandmother Miss Ivy. Miss Ivy is a strong Belizean woman, who is fighting for the independence of Belize and who has a strong desire for change. This change that Miss Ivy so desires is a change that is central among the people of Belize

The Theme of Death : 

The Theme of Death "Death" also plays a significant role in the novel as Toycie's horrific end sends shock waves throughout the  small community. While the death of Toycie, causes great grief and sorrow, it also serves to remind the villagers of the fragility of life and the secrets that can torment and consume an individual. On the other hand, death serves as an escape from all the problems  of life and it appears that Toycie's death in some respects appears more favourable than the option of being forfeited out of an education and having to live with the stigma of an unwanted child.