Song of Solomon

Precis Writing

Flight as a means of escape

Toni Morrison, author of Song of Solomon (1977), and the only remaining winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, writes in her bildungsroman novel a story of gaining the ability to fly. In the epigraph, Morrison extends an important revelation only made apparent once the reader has completed the novel-"The fathers may soar / And the children may know their names." Morrison utilizes this line to embody Milkman's new understanding of the effects of one's actions on others, a new byproduct of his learning to fly. This line is presented in a somber tone which recalls both African American myth and the condition of human flightlessness.

Milkman as the Peacock

In her historical fiction novel Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison utilizes an albino peacock that symbolizes the character of Milkman Dead in his greed and pride. Milkman and Guitar encounter this peacock while hanging around a used car lot, where they admire its "tail full of jewelry," a symbol of the "gold" they are attempting to steal (178). Morrison has Milkman associates the peacock with "unrestrained joy at anything that could fly," a feeling that Morrison describes in order to connect Milkman's feelings about flying with his greed and desire for the gold (178). Morrison gives the audience a little foreshadowing with the peacock in the Buick lot, referring to the later hunting of the bobcat.

Hagar as the Peacock

Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison's embodiment of the peacock as Hagar reveals her utmost desire to purify herself and to be "white" for Milkman, as the only girl he could ever like has "lemon-colored skin." Hagar is entirely persuaded that Milkman is interested purely in white women, a fact which Morrison displays through the pure whiteness of the albino peacock, which struts around fanning out its large "tail full of jewelry" (178).

Guitar as the Bobcat

In Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison uses subtle imagery to symbolize Guitar as a predator. Through her comparisons of Guitar and the bobcat, Morrison points out that they have the same yellow eyes, and a similar predatory instinct, driving them both towards their deaths at the hands of Milkman. Morrison establishes this likeness to allow Milkman to symbolically tear his heart right out of the bobcat's dead body. Her resigned tone and use of Guitar's past dialogue empower Morrison to portray Milkman's pulling away from Guitar.