Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison: Pilate, the Protagonist

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George Yu

Pilate, the Protagonist
The character Pilate can be seen as the protagonist of the novel Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, because she is the novel’s moral guide. Although the narrator rarely focuses on what Pilate is feels or thinks, preferring instead to concentrate on Milkman’s quest, Pilate’s presence and influence is felt everywhere in the novel.

Although Pilate’s actions in the novel are less visible than Milkman’s, her role is just as important. She frequently leads someone who is in need of guidance, such as the skeleton of her dead father, or Milkman, during his spiritual journey. In fact, she is the spiritual leader as well as a spiritual guide for the dysfunctional "Dead" family and the rest of the society. For example, when Pilate fixes her eyes on Robert Smith and sings:”O sugarman done fly away.”(9)

Born without a navel and alienated from others, Pilate is a survivor of the same racism that has embittered Macon Jr. and Milkman. However, instead of becoming spiritully dead like her brother Macon Jr. and her nephew Milkman, Pilate becomes a loving and selfless person. In the novel she even says: "hatch Reba for me” and then I wish I’d a knowed more people, I would of love them all. If I‘d a knowed more, I would a love more. "(page 336) Also, instead of feeling sorry for herself and brought donw by society's judgements, she learns to nurture and cherish her single self:

"After a while, she stopped worrying about her stomach and stopped trying to hide it. . . . When she realized that her situation in the world was and would probably always be she threw away every assumption she had learned and began at zero. First off, she cut her hair. That was one thing she didn't want to think about anymore. Then she tackled the problem of how she wanted to live and was valuable to her. When am I happy and when am I sad and what is the difference? What do I need to know and what is the true world?"(page 148-149)

Pilate also represents the...
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