Song of Solomon Precis

Kristan Parish

Pilate's Father as a Christ Figure

In her fiction novel Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison establishes Macon Dead I as a Christ figure, implying that older African-American generations deserve great honor and even reverence for what they endured through slavery. Macon Dead I's death reflects Christ's death on the cross by being in contact with wood and then being "shot up five feet in the air" (140), roughly the height of the cross; his burial reflects that of Christ's burial by being covered by rocks as Christ's tomb was covered by a stone, and his resurrection and reappearance after death reflects Christ's by being three days after his death. Toni Morrison establishes this relationship between Christ and Macon Dead I in order to heighten the importance of the older generations as she analyzes the African-American experience across different age groups. Morrison's audience consists of black and white alike, using a matter-of-fact tone that seeks simply to reveal the black world through the eyes of its inhabitants.

Corrie Dead as Hester Prynne

In her novel Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison, the only living winner of the nobel prize, implies that First Corinthians Dead transforms as Hester Prynne does in The Scarlet Letter. Corinthians hates her "hobby" of making rose petals and comes back to Porter because "he was the only thing that could protect her from a smothering death of dry roses" (199), similar to the way Hester Prynne symbolically removes her scarlet letter when meeting Arther Dimmesdale in the woods; she gives up some purity, as she had been "pure all these years" (198), in the same way Hester becomes vulnerable with Dimmesdale in the woods; she also parallels Hester in the way she wears her hair down, deciding "she wouldn't [collect] her hair into a ball at her nape now for anything in the world" (202). Morrison paints this comparison in order to emphasize the fact that Corinthians Dead has truly transformed into Corrie Dead, as she notes, she is "no longer afraid to mount the porch steps" (202). Morrison's audience, men and women alike, receive this message of the transformation of romance and even sex through the formal, reverent tone with which Morrison describes this encounter.

Milkman Reborn

Toni Morrison, well-acclaimed author and speaker, takes Milkman, her protagonist in Song of Solomon (1977), to the base of a sweet gum tree where he is killed and resurrected. Guitar's attack on him seems to bring Milkman a taste of death "[he] saw a burst of many-colored lights dancing before his eyes... He knew he had just drawn the last sweet air left for him in the world," and his resurrection as he took a new breath of life ("a living one... not a dying one"), is seen as he honestly laughs with the hunters after killing the bobcat (connecting with people), he no longer walks with a limp, and he enters into a mutual, loving relationship with Sweet, a definite change in the way he treats women. Morrison establishes Milkman's rebirth in order to suggest that no matter how corrupt someone is, he or she can always have a change in character, as does Milkman. She addresses a wide audience (everyone), proposing the idea of a second chance at life through a hopeful tone.

Pilate is not Dead

Toni Morrison, in her novel Song of Solomon (1977) has Pilate die at the hands of Guitar but implies, through her drawn parallels between Pilate and other "dead" characters, that she is not dead. Pilate's unexpected death certainly echoes her epic words from chapter 5 that "people die when they want to and if they want to," (140), providing the possibility that she could be living on outside of the physical death of her body as her father did; Pilate's earring with her name inside it (336), allowing her name to continue to live on; finally, she was not buried, as Milkman took his own flight before having a chance to do so, again providing the possibility that she could be following her father, even after death. Morrison establishes these parallels and possibilities in order to make a statement about what flight is: being free in unfree situation, as Pilate has been shown to do all her life; who's to say she hasn't survived when she has been killed? Toni Morrison offers this message to her audience through a gentle tone, suggesting that her readers, too, can fly.