Song of Solomon

Jacob Lister


In the novel Song of Solomon (1977), a Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison refutes the argument that money provides freedom. Morison does this through creating contrast between the haves and the have-nots, Milkman and Guitar, as well as by introducing metaphorical element of the peacock and the hindrance of flight resulting from its "jewelry." By juxtaposing the results of having wealth and being poor, Morison creates a dichotomy opposite to what is expected in order to support her claim that money serves as a shackle rather than an uninhibited transport to independence. Morrison crafts this message for all those looking to advance their level of happiness through gaining wealth but laces it with cynicism and ironic tones with hopes of accenting the absurdity of their notion that money can buy a liberated and satisfying life.

Chapter 9

In the novel Song of Solomon (1977), a Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison stresses the immature nature of vanity as well on its limiting affect of the progression into adulthood. Morrison conveys this notion of being stuck in childhood through the lack of identity possessed by those focusing primarily on what others think (Corinthian described as a "doll-baby") and Milkman's complete dependence on others (getting out of jail). By satirizing these childlike elements, she draws attention to the inability to mold a distinctive identity while solely utilizing the perspective of a foreign party in hopes of sponsoring greater self-confidence and a decrease in the concentration on other people's judgments. Morrison addresses these situations with a highly critical tone, only highlighting the negatives of conducting oneself like a teen-ager by constantly attaching negative qualities like fear and naivety to it such juvenile behavior.

Chapter 11

In the novel Song of Solomon (1977), Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison displays the dramatic changes in Milkman's character from self-concerned and immature to empathetic and confident after his "baptism" when Guitar "left him room to gasp, to take another... living breath, not a dying one"(279), allowing his old self to die and giving his new character room to flourish. Morrison achieves this transformation by starting chapter 11 with Milkman's bar fight where he attempts to assert his dominance while hiding his imperfections and ending it with Milkman exposing his flaws to his elderly hunting companions by flat-out admitting that he was "scared to death" and by literally exposing himself to Sweet (280). By using this dramatic transformation, Morrison sets up a baseline for the reader to use as a comparison in order to create an easily noticeable dichotomy between the behavior of the original and "reborn" Milkmen. Morrison's contrasting tone developed throughout the chapter furthers the idea of metamorphosis and supports the possibility of change to all those who are reading and unhappy with the behavior of someone around them.

Chapter 15

In the novel Song of Solomon (1977), Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison reveals the vital connection between a person's life and their name because "unless it is noted down and remembered, it will die when he/she does"(329). Morrison illuminates this connection through Pilate's last moments (she gave up her name and lost her life) which further asserts that "names bore witness" to the events of a person's life, and without a name, events become irrelevant because recording them proves impossible. By using physical manifestation of names (Pilate's earring) and names that relate to the behavior of the characters (Sing, Sweet, and the whole dead family), Morrison provides multiple pathways through which to connect the characters' senses of self to their name in order to create an elevated importance in the names of each character. Anybody lacking a sense of self can take sollice in Morrison's message that who we are is contained in our names, and her didactic tone gives weight to the lesson she is attempting to teach her readers.