Précis for Song of Solomon

Brandon Holt

Chapter 5-8: Magic Realism

In the novel Song of Solomon (1993), critically acclaimed author Tony Morrison employs the symbolic use of magic realism in her character's experiences. Morrison concocts this theme through the inclusion of flower bulbs that "were smothering [Ruth], taking her breath with their soft jagged lips" (Morrison 105), of the ghost of "a woman comin down the road", which then turned into a "bull" (Morrison 110), and of "a white peacock poised on the roof of a long low building" (Morrison 178). Through the insertion of various mystical and seemingly extraordinary events into the plot, Morrison is able to employ symbolic meaning behind each event (white oppression, Ruth's relationship with men) and highlight her messages to the audience in a more significant manner. Morrison's eerie and surreal tone when describing the paranormal ghosts and nightmarish sightings deepens the symbolic effect of the magic realism employed.

Chapter 9: First Corinthians Dead

In chapter 9 of the novel Song of Solomon(1977), critically acclaimed author Tony Morrison characterizes and transforms First Corinthians Dead in a way that symbolizes a flight from burden and depression. Morrison communicates this idea through the depiction of Corinthians waking up “to find herself a forty-two year old maker of rose petals” - which are artificial and symbolize the absence of love - suffering from a “severe depression” (Morrison 189), the struggle to take flight and search for work, a “shock” to find that her liberal education left her “unfit for eighty percent of the useful work of the world” (Morrison 189), and the ironic liberation in finding the job as a maid under the poet, Michael-Mary Graham, because there “she had what she never had in her [home]: responsibility” (Morrison 190). Such a characterization not only allows Morrison to deepen the work’s motif of flight, but also to show how freedom can be attained in unusual ways, even under constraint. Morrrison’s sarcastic tone when speaking of Corinthians’ awkward transition to the work world, and her delighted and peaceful tone when describing her maidship under the poet enriches the profoundness of Corinthians’ attempt at flight from oppression and a symbolic resurrection from death.

Chapter 11: The Burgeoning Milkman

In the 11th chapter of the novel Song of Solomon (1977), critically acclaimed author Tony Morrison depicts Milkman's hotheaded burst towards manhood, maturity, and understanding. Morrison establishes this headstrong evolution through asserting that Milkman's "morale had soared" (Morrison 260), due to a new found responsibility and freedom - "[Milkman] was his own director- relieving himself when he wanted to" (Morrison 260), then leading to Milkman's involvement in a broken bottle/knife fight and "a need for a woman" (Morrison 265), and finally Milkman's overconfidence, leading him to claim he had "the best shot there is" (Morrison 269) "in spite of the fact that he had never handled a firearm in his life" (Morrison 270-271). Morrison leads Milkman's steps toward maturity as a cocky boy coming to his own through a whirlwind of violence and dominance, left only to realize his own "ignorance and vanity" (Morrison 276), which allows Morrison to set up Milkman's growth into a more mature and understanding man, with a renewed hope for life after a near death experience- a mighty task for a character who was already Dead. Morrison's employment of dirty dialogue, then a shift to a more peaceful and vivacious tone (especially at Sweet's house) allows Morrison to communicate Milkman's new outlook and mindset.

Chapter 15: Milkman's New Life Crisis

In the 15th chapter of the novel Song of Solomon (1977), critically acclaimed author Tony Morrison depicts the reincarnated Milkman reliving his childhood for the first time, as a necessary component to the completion of his revival, so that he may return home a complete man. Morrison emphasizes this through her insertion of childish diction, as Milkman shouts, "I want to swim! I'm dirty and I want waaaaater!" (Morrison 326), of assertive and impactful simple sentences, such as "I can play now. It's my game now." (Morrison 327), and of childish behavior, as "Milkman pulled her close and kissed her mouth, ending the kiss with a determined effort to pull her under the water" (Morrison 328). By employing such a concept, Morrison allows for a more complete transformation of Milkman in the sense that he had already been baptized, reborn, and now must experience a brief summation of his lost childhood, so that Milkman's lost past can be spliced into his new form; a form that can "cut across the sky" and go home, just like Solomon. By employing a carefree tone - as seen in Milkman's authoritative "fuck 'em" (Morrison 327) to the water moccasins - Morrison allows the reader to infer a brief and serene moment of childish simplicity, where a man learns what it means to be a child.