AP Literature Précis

"Song of Solomon" -Toni Morrison

Chapter 8- The Peacock Symbolizes a Sense of Pride (or the Ego).

Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Literature Nobel Prize, utilizes the "white peacock poised on the roof" (178) in her coming-of-age novel Song of Solomon (1977) as a major symbol of pride and vanity- or the ego. Morrison makes this evident through the fact that the bird appears out of nowhere (the zoo doesn't seem to have any), by mentioning the bird only when the conversation turns toward Macon's vanity or Milkman's ego (it doesn't even seem to be there when they talk about other things), and through the way that Guitar corners and circles the bird (similar to the way he corners Milkman's ego and brings it out). The peacock is brought into Milkman's world in order to visually represent his father's oppressive ego and then the birth of his own ego- or the awakening of his own desires; in fact, right after Milkman realizes his own desires, "far down the road...the peacock spread its tail"(184). Morrison establishes a new relationship with her readers through Milkman's self-awakening by describing the bird as a "pure whit" (179) "waking dream" (178) having a "tail full of jewelry" (178)- implying that this new brilliant self that Milkman has acquired is his own ego, and not his father's.

Chapter 9- Greedy Minds: Oppression Causes Violence

In her coming-of-age novel Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Literature Nobel Prize, states that someone's constant oppression of others will kill things and make people "[want] to kill you" (213). Morrison makes this evident through the use of urinating on someone/something as a sign of possession (see Porter's drunken rage and Macon's greed), the death of the plants out of season after Milkman peed on them (see the flowers and the sapling), and Lena's rage toward young Milkman after he accidentally pees on her (she actually moves to premeditated murder). This assertion of dominance, especially over women, is acknowledged in order to make Milkman "the line [Lena] will step across" (214), and to show that Lena even tried to kill him "once or twice" (213). Morrison establishes a new view of Milkman with her readers through Lena's tone of rebellion and anger by bringing up how the oppressed women in the Dead household see him; a very disgusting prominent figure who has surely "pissed [his] last in this house" (216).

Chapter 11- The Bobcat

In her coming-of-age novel Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Literature Nobel Prize, uses the bobcat with "glistening night eyes" (280) as a symbol of Guitar and Milkman's friendship. This is developed through the association with Guitar (golden eyes and a manipulative nature), the fact that the animal is killed just after Guitar tries to kill Milkman (Milkman realizes his "friend" has actually attempted to murder him), and through Milkman's "[plunging] both hands into the rib cage" (282) to get the heart of the beast and the preceding interplay of Guitar's words and the dissection of the cat (a heart being a constant symbol of love and life). Morrison uses this symbol of the friendship between the two young men in order to show the final killing and gutting of the animal as Milkman finally figuring out Guitar and his relationship to him. Those readers who are followers (rather than leaders) in their day-to-day lives receive Morrison's words with a tone of a call to action- to realize that if they are following in the footsteps of a very mislead and confused friend (Milkman went North to find the gold for Guitar and his father), then they should take a look at themselves and eliminate that acquaintance.

Chapter 15- Baptism Below the Ridge

In her coming-of-age novel Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison, winner of the 1993 Literature Nobel Prize, changes Milkman to a more action-oriented individual through his baptism "below the ridge" (327). This is developed through the clear Baptism symbolism (Milkman even Baptizes Sweet), his huge amount of energy in the water (he's splashing around and diving about even though he's not physically spry), and his immediate need to go and tell what he's learned (he actually has trouble deciding who he wants to talk to first). Morrison uses this "Baptism" to give Milkman a focus on action in order to get him back home to Pilate and- afterwards- to the death of Pilate (and himself). Morrison's fast-paced tone and Milkman's "quick return" (335) pull the readers-especially those who might be less generous in their decisions- into Milkman's final action-packed steps back to Pilate and then to Solomon's Leap with her in order to build up to Milkman's great flight that was "as fleet and bright as a lodestar" (337).
Be a man - mulan
I thought this video was very reminiscent of Milkman's call to action (also, I like Disney).