Trying to find information on a question concerning Beloved, I tripped over some old note on Pilate, a character I haven't thought about in ages. The symbolism of her absence of a navel is clear (and I'm always fascinated by the ways in which Morrison's female characters are marked in some way), but I don't see the connection between that and the way she, Eba, and Hagar engage endlessly in song--the collective activity here and her vitality. The absence of a naval is the disconnect to her family history and heritage, but in other ways she is the spiritual center, bringing people together. And, what about her name, Pilate? What is the significance of that?
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I believe she has no navel because she serves more as a goddess, rather than a human. She has some ineresting abilities as well, such as being able to change her shape and her voice when necessary. She is a myth. Her name is surely a play on words. In reference to the Pilate from the bible, as she is responsible for her own mother's death, but more importantly, she is Milkman's pilot, his spiritual guide assisting him on his journey to self. Circe is much the same--she is not totally human and there are references to the Circe of The Oddyssy in which Circe is a beautiful which who also helps assist the hero on his journey.
I took it as Pilate birthed herself without the aid of her mother and therefore the lack of a navel was to signify that she was independent of a mother. The purpose of the navel is the reminisce of the umbilical cord a mode of survival and she had no need of it. I did not see this as a supernatural significance.
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