Beka Lamb

Lit 212 African American Culture

April 1, 2004

Zee Edgell’s “Beka Lamb”, depicts a story about Beka and her family, living an ordinary life in Belize. This novel illustrates the ethnic threat the Creoles face from the Hispanic population, as they struggle to hold on to their culture and to rise from lower to middle class status. In considering the four pillars supporting life, Edgell’s work symbolizes the requirements (motion, nutrition, reduction of stress, and staying connected) needed to have a fulfilled life for Beka, her family, and the Creoles culture.

In order to evolve, one must learn to provide an ongoing motion. Motion involves much improvising and willingness to learn from experiences. Zee Edgell\'s Beka\'s Lamb shows how young women within the novel develop morally and emotionally. As the novel begins, Beka has just won a writing essay contest at school. She realizes that had it been 7 months earlier, she could never been able to reach her potential. Beka had difficulty telling the truth. She lied to her father about passing a grade when she really failed. Soon however, she realizes her lack of responsibility. She confessed to her father and starts cleaning the attic. The significance of the attic is, she would lie about cleaning it, and she would miss parts or not clean it at all. But that one day however, she cleaned it fully with all the energy inside of her. This change of character embarks the beginning of a new, mature woman and her cross into adulthood.

The social classes mentioned in the book were the Expatriates (white colonialists) at the top, Bakras (white citizens), Panais (mestizos), and then Creoles (mixed whites and African). Its basically based on skin color, from lightest to darkest. With the essay-writing contest, Beka’s family warned her ’that the prizes would go to bakras, panais or expatriates’ (1). So it did not matter how good her essay was, she was expected to be held back because of her race. However, to everyone’s surprise Beka actually won the contest. This was a great feat for the Creoles because it proves that they can also withstand the prejudice and rise in society.

The second pillar is Nutrition. Nutrition is the stem of life. If one is not well nourished physically and mentally, one cannot survive the disorder that life can bring. One prime example from Beka lamb is the family’s daily teatime. This is a tradition that is rooted from their culture. Everyday the family would get together with tea, fritters, Johnnycakes, and pound cakes. They would discuss events and experiences in their lives that allow them to stay connected. Teatime symbolizes unity within the family and also brings stability into their lives. Staying connected is another pillar of life that focuses on our relationship with others.

Without a stable background, a person may live an unpredictable, chaotic lifestyle. Beka and her best friend Toycie are examples of how stability is vital to survive. Toycie had a very broken down household. Her unwed father disappeared to Panama, and her mother migrated to Brooklyn, NY. Her aunt, Elia, raised Toycie. Her aunt blamed herself for Toycie’s mistakes; she took fault in the pregnancy thinking that she didn’t teach her niece any morals. Beka, on the other hand, grew up in a tight knit family. She was well knowledgeable of her background, and she always had the support from the people around her. Beka and best friend Toycie led very different lifestyles. In the beginning, Beka was the unmotivated, and irresponsible one; while Toycie was the studious and mature one. While growing up however, both friends seemed to switch roles. This turning point deciphers the kind of life they were about to lead. Beka found the determination she needed to succeed in her life. She became a better student and she managed to outgrow her lying. Toycie became distracted with her boyfriend and soon was conceiving a child outside of wedlock. During her pregnancy she undergoes a mental breakdown and was forced into a mental institute. The downfall of Toycie eventually leads to her unforeseeable death.

Beka Lamb illustrates the rise and fall of individuals and society. It shows the rise of a young woman and her transformation into adulthood.