The Black Madonna does serve several roles in the overall plot. As a feminine symbol, it represents maternal love and the varied mother surrogates that soothed and comforted Lily as she pondered on her relationship with her late mother and the temporal and spiritual relevance that relationship held for her. In the movie, Lily carries a picture of Black Mary that she found while rummaging through her mother’s belongings. To Lily, the picture of Black Madonna symbolized her late mother and it is this picture that eventually leads her to August, a black woman who takes her in and acts as a surrogate mother to Lily. It is August that introduces Lily to the spiritual relevance and meaning of Black Madonna, whom she considers to be the divine mother to all of the humanity. Thereby, if on the one side the picture of Black Madonna connotes spiritual and temporal maternal love and support to Lily, in the larger sense the statue of Black Madonna in this movie does convey a sentiment of love, hope and human brotherhood to a racially divided South. In a symbolic context, the statue of Black Madonna which the Daughters of Mary worship every night does convey the meaning and relevance of having faith and believing in something that transcends beyond one’s innate beliefs and yearnings. Thereby, in the movie, the statue of Black Madonna does act as a symbol of hope and reconciliation for the individual characters living in times marked by deep-seated racial divide and social tensions in the American South.
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