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From Pilate To Pilate And Song To Song

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Toni Morrison presents various different allusions to the Bible in her novel Song of Solomon. The most apparent examples of this are represented within the parallels between Pontius Pilate and Pilate Dead, along with the thematic plot of love present in the novel and in the biblical book Song of Solomon. Morrison shows a great deal of correlation between the Bible and Song of Solomon. She uses her creativity to present familiar characters in a new and different light. She is able to present the same characteristics in an original story that has a vast amount of biblical similarities in love, strength, and power.

There are several circumstances that demonstrate Morrison's creativity in the parallel aspect of the story. Pilate, for one, is a strong and independent character determined to live the way she sees fit. Fascinating is how Pilate got her name. Macon remembers after their mother dies during child birth, their father must point to a name out of the Bible, but unfortunately, he cannot read.

"How his father, confused and melancholy over his wife's death in childbirth, had thumbed through the Bible, and since he could not read a word, chose a group of letters that seemed to him strong and handsome; saw in them a large figure that looked like a tree hanging in some princely but protective way over a row of smaller trees" (18). Even more interesting is the description of Pilate cooking when Macon is spying through the window as "Pilate swayed like a willow over her stirring" (30).

This is a representation of what Pilate Dead will be and what the biblical Pilate was; strong like a willow tree. There is clear evidence from scripture that Pilate was a strong man that primarily did what he thought would be best for him. In the book of John, after Jesus is sent to be crucified, "Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS...and it was written in Hebrew, and Greek, and Latin. Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews. Pilate answered, What I have written I have written" (Holy Bible, John 19.19-22).

This is unmistakably a description of the dominance enveloped in his character. The chief priests of the Jews did not want it written out for all to see that Jesus was considered a king, but Pilate would not alter his decision because some of the Jews opposed the idea. He would stand strong in the certainty of his choice being right. He managed to remain in a position of power and strength over the people wishing for the title to be removed from the cross.

Pilate shows characteristics that are close to those of Pontius Pilate in the Bible. As Pontius Pilate was strong, Pilate Dead had similar attributes. She did what she thought was right, even if her concern sprouted from love and Pontius Pilate's sprouted from selfishness. This is proven at one specific point when Ruth was having marital problems with Pilate's brother Macon Dead.

Ruth was "desperate to lie with her husband and have another baby by him" and she had for a long time wanted to "reinstate their sex lives" (131). Pilate assists Ruth in this by giving her a magic powder to put in his food to make Macon desire his wife, and when Ruth becomes pregnant, Macon wants her to abort the baby. At this point Pilate shows her confidence and faith in herself. She tells Ruth not to worry and that "Macon wouldn't bother her no more; she, Pilate, would see to it." She left a doll that looked like Macon in the chair of his office "with a small painted chicken bone stuck between its legs...he left Ruth alone after that" (132).

Pilate did not allow for Macon's intimidation to pressure out of the situation. Pilate was not afraid of the man that so many people in their town feared with every fiber of their existence. She was able to stand up to that man with no inclination of the dread seen in the many faces that Macon had no problem throwing on the street due to lack of rent payment (21-22). Pilate had some control over her brother and a confidence that no one else would dare face Macon with. She shows her true colors by facing the fear of a man that in no way terrifies her.

Another instance of power shown by Pilate Dead would have to be that fact that she has no naval. After her mother dies during childbirth, the rest is described through Macon's point of view. "The baby, who they had believed was dead also, inched its way headfirst out of a still, silent, and indifferent cave of flesh, dragging her own cord and her own afterbirth behind her...Once the new baby's lifeline was cut, the cord stump shriveled, fell off, and left no trace of having ever existed...he learned that there was probably not another stomach like hers on earth" (28). Pilate is a special person depicted as even crawling out of the womb all on her own. That alone is a picture of the kind of endurance she possesses as a person.

Scripture also paints of picture of Pontius Pilate as being a very dominant person. This is especially evident when he is speaking to Jesus and trying to decide if he is guilty of crime that deserves the punishment of death. Pilate goes to Jesus "And saith unto Jesus, Whence art thou? But Jesus gave him no answer. Then saith Pilate unto him, Speakest thou not unto me? Knowest thou not that I have power to crucify thee, and have power to release thee" (Holy Bible, John 19.9-10).

Pilate states himself that he knows he possesses the power as governor to do as he wishes with Jesus. Pilate knows that he has the legal authority to either destroy Jesus or let him go as a free man. He obviously plays the power card and having the ability to make the decisions regarding this situation at hand, he uses it ensure that he is doing what is most beneficial for him. For example, the Jews describe a different point of view to Pilate. "Pilate saith unto them, Shall I crucify your King? The chief priests answered, We have no king but Caesar" (Holy Bible, John 19.15). The Jews also make the statement to Pilate, "If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar's friend: whosoever maketh himself a king speaketh against Caesar" (Holy Bible, John 19.12).

This correlates with the instance when Pilate does any of the actions that her father's ghost presents for her to complete. Pilate Dead goes back for the bones because "Papa told me to" (208). In the same conditions that Pontius Pilate follows Caesar, Pilate Dead follows her father. Each authority has the dominance over each Pilate. They cannot turn away from the commands they receive from the one they hold so highly in respect. Although Pilate Dead's respect results



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