The Character of Pilate in Song of Solomon

The Character of Pilate in Song of Solomon

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The Character of Pilate in Song of Solomon



The character Pilate in Song of Solomon is portrayed in the role of a teacher or "guide". She tends to be a spiritual leader as well as a spiritual guide for Milkman and the rest of the society. It could be argued that she is the main cause of Milkman's liberation and better being. She represents the motherly love and gives the spiritual education that Milkman needs, in order to go through the monomyth process. She teaches Milkman the necessities of life not with severity but rather by means of being her own self. Her being connected to her heritage and traditions is also involved in changing Milkman into the hero. Pilate is not the typical teacher that a reader could expect to have in his or her classroom. Pilate is to a certain extent, very mother like and caring towards Milkman. She gives Milkman what he feels he can't get at his rich home, care and affection. When Milkman is alone, it is at Pilate's house that he finds comfort, not only from the people but also from the surroundings of the house. He feels comfortable being in a neighborhood of people that are of lower class than him. Pilate takes on the role of mother to Milkman by showing how a family is supposed to be, which is not divided like his house, but rather caring and loving towards one another, like the environment at Pilate's house. As Joseph Skerrett points out, Pilate does begin teaching Milkman, starting from their very first meeting. Her whole lesson with how the word "hi" sounds like the "dumbest" word and that if someone was to be greeted with a hi, they should "get up and knock you down" seems to get Milkman to notice her. Her role as a parental guide changes to that of one of the teacher and she tries to teach him what is right and wrong. She exemplifies to Milkman how life should be led. She shows him how goals in life should be aimed for and how they should be accomplished. For example, her whole lesson on how to make the perfect egg shows Milkman how even something as little as frying an egg has consequences to it.

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Through Pilate he learns that big and little things have a purpose and a right way of accomplishing that goal as well as how one should try to set and do it correctly. She also points out to him that while she does sell wine, she never drinks it, because it is only to make a good living condition for her daughter and grandchild rather than to use it for her own advantage. Her wine store shows how she accomplishes her goals without any interference or word-of-mouth, in the city, bothering her at all. Pilate's way of teaching helps Milkman comprehend what she is trying to say or teach without her actually instilling it into his brain. She acts in a way that make him understand what he needs to know. After the robbery of the green bag, Pilate goes to the police station to ask the police to let the two men go. She captures Milkman's attention with her story. He becomes interested in finding out the truth behind the green bag. The fact that Pilate doesn't actually give all of the details behind the green bag is what causes Milkman to begin his journey to self-discovery. Pilate is the cause of Milkman's initiation all the way to his liberation in the monomyth process. She seems to be Milkman's guide. Once Milkman goes to the cave and doesn't find the gold, he decides to take the routes that Pilate took in her life. He follows her path and finds the town of Shalimar. Her experiences "guide" him in understanding who he is and that his great-grandpa could fly. If it hadn't been for her, Milkman wouldn't have ended up in Shalimar, and neither would he have been able to find the kind of love that he did there from Sweet. By tracing Pilate's path Milkman finds his own path and an identity for himself. Pilate's role of teacher and guide often comes into play in the novel. She is there with him when he goes through the important parts of life and helps him learn how to see his own life. It's because of her that he went in search of the gold and found something as priceless as his heritage. Even at the end when Pilate dies, she teaches him to live out of courage and face up to reality. It could be said that it's because of her that he faces Guitar and sacrifices himself for Guitar's sake. She became the benevolent guide for Milkman, helping him conquer his own life and move on to liberation.
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