There’s always that one person who you’re ‘frenemies’ with. You don’t like them – wait, scratch that, you really don’t like them – but you still have to act like the two of you are friends. Whatever the reason might be, from trying to be polite simply in order to avoid getting in trouble, to acting friendly because your real friend is also friends with that person. This is the conflict happening in Little Bee by Chis Cleave between Little Bee, Lawrence and Sarah.
First of all, you need to get some background info about the characters to understand the conflict (okay this is gonna get messy so pay attention) Little Bee, an illegal immigrant from Nigeria who immigrated to England, had “accidentally” gotten out of the detention center she had essentially been kept prisoner in for two years, then gone to Sarah, the only person she knew in England. Sarah, having been in the wrong place at the wrong time when vacationing in Nigeria with her then husband Andrew, had cut off her middle finger in order to save Little Bee from the men planning to kill her – however, after that incident they didn’t meet again until Little Bee showed up at her doorstep two years later (Whoo! We’re almost done). Finally, the last person – Lawrence. Sarah, while still married to Andrew, had been cheating on him with Lawrence (yeah, I know, not exactly a flawless character – but in her (very weak) defense, it was an unhappy marriage). Lawrence worked at the Home Office, and was also married (wow, this book is just full of these people – but in his defense – oh, wait he has no defense, but that’s mostly because I don’t really like him – you’ll find out why later – so I don’t want to defend him). Then, after Sarah’s husband killed himself, he started coming over more often.
Now, the conflict that I’m actually supposed to be writing about. Lawrence, working in the Home Office, kept trying to convince Sarah to report Little Bee to the police so they would deport her to Nigeria, “‘I think you should wake her up and ask her to leave. I’m serious’” (Cleave 121). Like seriously, kept telling her to make Little Bee leave, “‘I want you to call the police and have her removed’” (121). However, (now you’ll see why Sarah is not half-bad despite the whole cheating issue) Sarah understood how terrible conditions were in Nigeria, and what Little Bee would face if she went back there – death. So, she stood her ground, even with the risk of the consequences if it was ever found out that she was harboring an illegal immigrant in her home, “Ask her to leave, Lawrence had said. But no, no, I couldn’t. We were joined by what had happened on the beach. Getting rid of her would be like losing a part of me” (124).
Lawrence, after trying his best to convince Sarah to get rid of Little Bee and realizing he was making no progress, turned to the other option – talking to the ‘problem’ itself – Little Bee. He confronted her while Sarah was sleeping and basically politely threatened to secretly report Little Bee to the police himself if she didn’t, “‘Will I turn you in myself, you mean?…I’ll do what’s best for Sarah’” (186). It’s like ‘Whoa man, way to win a girl’s heart – forcibly deporting her only real friend and confidante is totally gonna make her fall in love with you’. But, what Lawrence didn’t expect was for Little Bee to fight back. She cleverly realized that if Lawrence were to ‘tell on her’ now, after so much time had passed since she had started living illegally in England, he would get in trouble as well for allowing Little Bee continue, “I would find a way. I would find a way to tell her what you had done. And I would find a a way to tell your wife too. I would break both of your lives, Lawrence. Your family life and your secret life’” (188). That right there folks, is karma (I would just like to say I am in no way condoning illegal immigrants). Now Lawrence was in a difficult position – if he turned Little Bee in, he would get in trouble too – so, he reluctantly agreed not to report Little Bee to the police.
Well, that’s all it is for now. Lawrence is an all-around horrible person with very few redeeming traits (in my eyes anyways, I’m sure Sarah would think differently), and is now sucked into the giant secret Sarah and Little Bee are keeping. Little Bee and Lawrence are even better friends/enemies now. Phew! Everyone can be relieved – the drama is over – or is it? I guess we’ll see at the end of the book!
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