Pilate: Materialistic Western Life In William Morrison's Milkman

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Pilate is Milkman’s aunt and his father’s younger sister. Tough she belongs to the Dead’s family, she does not seem to be part of it since she neglects the materialistic Western lifestyle of the Deads. In contrast, Pilate is the embodiment of independent women, motherly love and Southern values in an industrialized capitalist North. She does not value social norms and rules and rejects adaption to it. Morrison describes Pilate as a character contradicting to standards in society by her outer appearance and her home at the outskirt of town. Her self-made earring, her short hairs, and her shabby outfits distinguish her from mainstream and express her uniqueness. Furthermore, her female-centered home where she earns her living by making wine indicates…show more content…
“Not that Pilate or Reba felt the possessive love for him that his mother did, but they had accepted him without questions and with all the ease in the world. They took him seriously too. Askes him questions and thought all his responses to things were important enough to laugh at or quarrel with him about” (98). In her place, Milkman feels accepted without the need to perform something or become someone. Although Milkman’s mother Ruth wants all the best for her son, it is Pilate’s presence which he enjoys and whose influence affects him most. Milkman finds comfort and starts to like being with people of the lower classes. Being around Pilate is foreshadowing for his rebirth already indicated by their first encounter when Pilates offers him…show more content…
By exemplifying, she tries to show him how life should be led and how goals in life can be achieved. Milkman experiences one of these lessons when Pilate interacts when Reba quarrels with her lover being beaten by him. Without a word Pilate leaves the house, grasps the man and “lectures him [Reba’s lover] on the limits of motherly tolerance” (Bloom 2009 12). But still characterized by his father’s mindset, Milkman views this incident without realizing its significance. One the one hand, Pilate shows him how to handle difficult situations and to control one’s temper, but on the other hand, she teaches him a lesson of the correct behavior towards women by explaining that women have to be respected and women’s love should not be abused. All in all, Milkman learns from Pilate that also small things have a purpose and she teaches him about his past and encourages him to start his quest for identity, but reaches her limits to take him out of his lifelong characterization concerning his reckless handling of

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