By: Jamila Dyer
Is it worth it?
Toni Morrison, a world-renown story teller of society-enriching tales, bound to shake your perceptions of morality, uses her narrative, Song of Solomon (1997), to stress wealth’s unnatural grip on those who have never had it before, foreshadowing the outcome of obtaining it dishonestly. Morrison reflects on the contrast between our two characters, Milkman and Guitar, when they both decide to steal Pilate’s “gold”, but for different reasons—Guitar’s explicit focus was to create a safer and plush lifestyle for him and his family (with the obvious undertones of also using the newly acquired fortune to end innocent people’s lives, making it increasingly difficult to portray Guitar as the upright character that we saw in the beginning of the book), whereas Milkman only thought about bettering his personal power and his belongings—“Milkman fantasized too, but not for the stationary things Guitar described. Milkman wanted boats, cars, airplanes, and the command of a large crew. He would be whimsical, generous, mysterious with his money.” (Morrison 179) Throughout this story, we’ve seen specific creatures used as symbols to represent a reoccurring theme; this time she uses the illusionary image of a white peacock in order to exemplify both of the men’s aspirations of the freedom that money can buy—Milkman’s urge to “fly away” and Guitar’s willingness to avenge one death for another to spiritually free the souls of the dead. Given the ending scene with Reba looking out into the night, viewing both Milkman and Guitar run off with the secretive green sack, voices her ominous and foreboding tone while grabbing the audience’s attention, forcing them to answer the question, “Will the wealth be as fulfilling as previously perceived?”
Women are worth it.
North vs. South
In Morrison’s timeless novella, Song of Solomon (1977), Morrison juxtaposes the contrasting perceptions of the North and South to express the presumptions held within each region. Morrison supports her assertion by composing stichomythic conversations between Milkman and the men in Solomon’s General Store, as they discuss the contrasts in hospitality and mannerism in the South: Milkman is offered free rides as favors without having to pay, as he is used to in the North; the generalization of the wealth of those in North: the men in the store assume the North, believe that “everything up North got big money.”; and the differences in the women, as they mock Milkman’s degrading comment which objectifies women: “The sights and the women,” implying the differences in women in the North and South, as well as leveling women into a comparable aspect of the South with its sights and all else it offers. Morrison expresses Milkman’s arrogant tone through his conversations and his offensive remarks, as he flaunts his wealth as well as his ignorance.