All the Précis.

Song of Solomon Précis Collection

Pilate the Sage (Chapter 6)

In chapter 6 of the novel Song of Solomon (1977), award-winning author Toni Morrison emphasizes Pilate's role as an all-knowing voice of reason that "you certainly had to take...seriously," making her presence embody an ultimate return to sanity. Morrison sets the groundwork for Pilate's resoluteness in logic and sound state of mind by juxtaposing her clearness in mentality ("equilibrium") with Ruth's and Hagar's relentless romantic fixations ("the absence of control") on Milkman, thus establishing a dichotomy of mindsets to build upon with consequent dialogue. Amid Ruth and Hagar's quarrel over whom Milkman belongs to, Morrison utilizes Pilate's entrance as a cease-fire with the statement "Now she held up her hand...and silenced Hagar's whines" (138); this establishes a piece of even ground for the women, in order to justify that their concerns are similar--"But it looks to me like you ought to be able to understand her"--and in turn, lead them to sensibility, so that they progress beyond their obsessions and regain their senses. In this way, Morrison allows the reader to reflect on the usefulness of Pilate's grounded mindset, despite her soul being in flight, using a pragmatic tone to form a description of her extensive wisdom--"the other had read only a geography book, but had been from one end of the country to the other" (139); consequently, Pilate becomes almost omnipotent, being the bearer of utmost rationale or the force that brings a person back to earth when he or she is too lost in fantasy.

How Corinthians Found Herself (Chapter 9)

Within chapter 9 of the novel Song of Solomon (1977), renown author Toni Morrison effectively features Corinthians's journey to forming her identity that allows her to undergo a moral metamorphosis, challenging the circumstances that "unfit her for eighty percent of the useful work of the world" (189) and made her a walking Dead. Morrison highlights this transformation in Corinthians's previously subservient character at the beginning of the chapter, where Corinthians realizes the difficulties in which "she lacked drive [ambition and motivation]" (188) (addressing her relative immobility in life), and carries out her transformation utilizing three key events that progressively cause her to stray from stagnancy and move on her own accord--to establish herself. With the initial event of Corinthians finding a job at Miss Graham's residence, Morrison plants the seeds of her eventual rebirth--occupation with meaning (purpose)--creating a gateway to the world outside of Macon Dead's residence in order to provide her with a central, missing aspect of her life, "what she never had in her own [home]: responsibility" (190), which consequently exposes her to Henry Porter--the source of both the second event, the instigation of Corinthians's first actual romance for ages (gaining her identity as a woman), and the third event, her first act of literal, fearless mobility, where "Corinthians ran toward it [Porter's car] faster than she had ever run in her life" (197), finally submitting to her own individualistic desires instead of her father's. In facilitating Corithians's progression to independence, Morrison allows the audience to see Corinthians as a dynamic character, who realizes the importance of action and change in one's personal development, unlike most members of her family, using an assured (and almost relieved) tone to emphasize her newfound sense of confidence--"she now felt a self-esteem that was quite new" (201)--which ultimately allows her to, even just for a moment, break free from her Dead existence to act individually and live.

Milkman of the Jungle (Chapter 11)

During chapter 11 of the novel Song of Solomon (1977), the author Toni Morrison captures Milkman's escape from the Dead through his time spent in Shalimar hunting that " [made] himself exhilarated by simply walking the earth [living]" (281). Morrison features Milkman's revival by juxtaposing his original, condescending character (that he portrays when entering Shalimar)--"He [Milkman] was telling them [the men at Solomon's shop] that they weren't men" (266)--with the almost-spiritual rejuvenation that he experiences by hunting with the older Shalimar men, following a series of events within the hunt. By introducing Milkman to the humble town of Shalimar, Morrison immediately creates a contrast between Milkman's upper-class mentality with the hard-working mindsets of the men in Shalimar (a mark of immaturity for Milkman), in order to give Milkman a culture-shock (his realization of his condescension)--"Maybe the glow of hero worship (twice removed) that had bathed him in Danville had also blinded him" (276)--as well as a chance to rid himself of his materialistic biases (clothes, views, etc) through the hunt; this ultimately allows Milkman to progress further towards gaining dignity, as he ventures deeper into the hunting ground as an individual, eventually resting under a gum tree--"he felt the sweet gum's surface roots cradling him like the rough but maternal hands of a grandfather" (279)--where his own roots begin to form and connect his soul to the earth (where he begins to sprout and truly live). To emphasize Milkman's evident rebirth, Morrison allows the audience to realize his shift in character through his newfound connection with the natural realm--"his legs were stalks, tree trunks, a part of his body that extended down...into the rock and soil, and were comfortable there" (281)--which deviates from his usual city-edge, pompous "swagger," and using a relaxed and focused tone, Morrison shows the calmness in Milkman's mentality as he, for the first time, finds unity with his surroundings, able to breathe--able to live.

Takeoff (Chapter 15)

In the final chapter (Chapter 15) of the novel Song of Solomon (1977), Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison completes Milkman's journey to manhood (maturity), through his return to Solomon's Leap that ultimately makes him answer the question of human relationships--"Would you save my life? or would you take it?" (331)--prompting him to act and take flight. Morrison begins the final stretch of Milkman's maturation through his meeting with Pilate upon his return, where he comes face to face with the realization of the "body" he left behind (Hagar), allowing him, for the first time, to address his evident mistake in creating another dead "Dead"--"He had hurt her [Hagar], left her, and now she was dead" (332)--and empathize with Pilate's self-punishment of keeping a dead man's bones--"When he went home that evening...he returned with a box of Hagar's hair" (334)--facilitating the rest of his maturation by highlighting his new sense of responsibility and respect for others, which he shows by assisting Pilate with burying her father's bones. By allowing Milkman and Pilate to work side-by-side for the burial (whereas Milkman looked up to her as a child), Morrison emphasizes the idea that Milkman has now reached clarity and resoluteness in moral mentality (like Pilate's "equilibrium" state of mind), in order to introduce a dreamlike essence of peace and consequent fulfillment of character--"Ginger, a spicy sugared ginger smell, enveloped them" (335)--where as Pilate buries her name and is killed by Guitar (her guidance no longer needed at the end of Milkman's journey), Milkman solidifies his own ("Here I am!") and prepares to face and kill Guitar as an individual--"Without wiping away the tears, taking a deep breath, or even bending his knees--he leaped"--soaring in the absence of burdensome hesitation and indecisiveness. Ending his life of inaction, Morrison emphasizes Milkman's state of flight through the pinnacle of his realizations--"If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it" (337)--using a hopeful tone to allow the audience to feel Milkman's relative weightlessness in breaking free from the pre-planned routes of life laid out for him, choosing his own fate and method of existence as a man flourishing his inborn wings.