Song of Solomon Précis

Kyrstin Deffendall

The Importance of History

In Toni Morrison's Nobel Prize winning novel, Song of Solomon (1977), she makes the assertion that in order for one to know one's self and where one is headed, one's history must be known. Morrison highlights this concept through Milkman's lack of knowledge of his name as well as his past which leaves him with an apathetic and indecisive longing to "escape" (p 120), through Pilate's fulfilling life which has become so through her adamant means of literally carrying her history with her ("every place I went I got me a rock" p 142), and Guitar's knowledge of his (and other) race's history which encourages his anger, violence, and ultimately leads him down his chosen path of life ("The earth is soggy with black people's blood. And before us Indian blood. Nothing can cure them, and if it keeps on there won't be any of us left and there won't be any land for those who are left." p 159). As a third-person omnipresent narrator, Morrison uses her knowledge of the character's emotions and highlights their passions in order to exemplify the important impact one's history has on one's life; Morrison goes so far as to directly shape each character around the way they each individually take to their personal histories. Morrison maintains a vague tone in which the audience is exposed to a variety of perspectives in which both the Apollonian and Dionysian aspects of mankind are focused on; through the corrupt ways of the characters and the sporadic hints of hope that Morrison includes she is able to keeps the reader on their toes and distantly hopeful for the histories to eventually right the wrongs of the various characters.

Good vs Evil

In Toni Morrison's award winning novel, Song of Solomon (1977), she develops her characters, Pilate and Macon Dead, by creating a distinct juxtaposition between God (and the trinity) and Satan with them. Morrison demonstrates this dramatic contrast through Pilate's God-like qualities in that she not only loves unconditionally, but was willing to not only forgive him but demeaned herself and "was willing to do it - for him," whereas Macon illustrates the character of Satan through his greed, his thievery, as well as his attempts at tempting the police officers with "his wallet," in the way Satan does to Jesus in the bible; the juxtaposition is also made obvious through Pilate and Macon's interaction at the jail, when Pilate claimed, when asked if she the men gestured to Macon saying, "Not this man, here" in the same way that God does not have any interaction with and avoids knowing Satan. Morrison uses her contrast between the two as well as minor biblical knowledge to demonstrate the drastic contrast between Pilate and Macon, God and Satan, and ultimately good and evil. Her tone towards each character illustrates directly how she feels toward each character and thus guides the reader's feelings towards them as well; these perception of the characters further the relationship between good and evil.

Chapter 11 Precis

In chapter eleven of Toni Morrison's award winning novel Song of Solomon (1977), she cleverly utilizes the number four, symbolic of the four horseman of the Apocalypse in the bible's book of Revelation, to use various lesson examples to lead up to Milkman's final "revelation" at the end of the chapter and his ultimate success in finding himself. Morrison's use of the number four is found at important parts of the chapter; when Milkman initially arrives at Solomon's General Store he ends up fighting with a man with an "absence of four front teeth," which serves to be the beginning of his lessons in how instead of being revered and feared because of his money it is the reason for his attempted demise, the "four men sitting on the porch" are seen as another lesson to Milkman in which he is exposed to the concept of forgiveness and once again not treated differently because of his money but rather treated as a normal person because he is exactly that (his introduction to these four men is also the first time he has introduced himself as "Macon" and not automatically been called "Milkman"), finally, after his meeting of the men and agreement to go hunting, he decides to lie down in the car and roll "down all four windows," which symbolizes his slow but sure connection with the outdoors and with nature and eventually with "his roots." Morrison uses the number four the signify and foreshadow significant events that happen to Milkman and play in to his eventual ability to find himself; the fight serves as his wake-up call, the men as his entrance to the normal world, and the windows of his final connection to himself. Morrison's didactic tone allows the reader to pick up on significant events and allows her clues of the number four to further help foreshadow Milkman's journey.

Chapter Fifteen Precis

Toni Morrison, author of the Nobel Prize winning novel, Song of Solomon (1977), uses her fifteenth and final chapter to illustrate how Milkman has officially sprouted his wings. The very beginning of the chapter shows Milkman being restless and unable to be tamed, much like a bird (or byrd if you will), in how he refuses to take a bath ("Don't give me no itty bitty teeny tiny tub" p 327) but rather needs something more vast like the "sea" (or the sky); following Milkman's return to Michigan, he goes to see Pilate where he has a bottle smashed over his head and while unconscious is tied up in the cellar, however, Milkman does not worry or allow these ropes to hold him back but rather calls out to his pilot of an aunt to help literally set him free from the ropes and metaphorically set him free from her anger towards him (Pilate continues to be a symbol of forgiveness); Milkman continues to spread his wings as the chapter continues, and his final Revelation is found while Pilate (his spiritual pilot) lay dying in his arms and he realizes that "without ever leaving the ground, she could fly," which is followed by him taking his final "flight" as a leap off of Solomon's Leap where he undoubtedly shows his true wings. Morrison uses Milkman's new found freedom to symbolize the wings he has now sprouted, he can now, like Pilate, fly without ever leaving the ground. The hopeful tone in which Morrison writes this final chapter helps to illustrate what the reader has been hoping for all along: Milkman to take flight; his success in finally dropping "the shit that weighs him down" has resulted in his marvelous freedom and his final "flight."