Song of Solomon
How we cite our quotes:
She had been husbanding her own misery, shaping it, making of it an art and a Way. Now she saw a larger, more malevolent world outside her own. (1.5.133)
Money, affluence, and deprivation make one fine cocktail of self-centeredness. The cruelty of having money and lacking love has kept Ruth so far away from her mansion on Not Doctor Street that she doesn’t know what else is possible in the world. At this moment, we see that she too lacks community, people, or a chorus of girlfriends, sisters, cousins, mothers, and aunts. Like everyone else in the Dead family, she is completely alienated from the outside world and, thus, completely selfish.
Then she tackled the problem of trying to decide how she wanted to live and what was valuable to her. When am I happy and when am I sad and what is the difference? What do I need to know to stay alive? What is true in the world? Her mind traveled crooked streets and aimless goat paths, arriving sometimes at profundity, other times at the revelations of a three-year-old. (1.5.149)
It’s hard to believe that there was ever a moment in Pilate’s life when she didn’t know who she was or what she believed in. In fact, this moment takes us by surprise. The woman is close to godliness and, without a belly button and all, it’s easy to imagine her as a divine creature. But here, we get to see Pilate crafting, choosing her identity deliberately and with a scholarly eye. She becomes more human in this sense, and we see how even the most grounded creature in the universe of Song builds her identity, chooses to believe in certain things over others.
"It’s not about living longer. It’s about how you live and why." (1.6.160)
Here we broach one of those simple, answerable questions: what is the meaning of life? Guitar believes that to give meaning to one’s life, one has to be deliberate in the living of it. One has to have purpose, goals, and beliefs to get behind. But still, we can’t help ask the same question on Milkman’s mind: can the murdering of random white people give a life meaning?