Song of Solomon Precis

Maddie Murphy

Traditional Gender Roles in Chapter 5

In chapter 5 of her novel Song of Solomon(1977), Toni Morrison conveys traditional gender roles through Hagar and Ruth who rely heavily on men, and when the men they depend on become endangered they turn to violence. Morrison demonstrates this dependence when Hagar "could not get his love (and the possibility that he did not think of her at all was intolerable), so she settled for his fear"(Morrison 128) by continuously plotting to murder Milkman, and Ruth by "putting some greenish-gray grassy-looking stuff in his food"(125) just so her husband would not leave and "will tear [Hagar's] throat out"(136) if she even attempts to hurt her son. This is extreme violence that both women are driven to by trying to keep Milkman for themselves illustrates how powerless before and dependent on men they are, which Morrison contrasts with Pilate who personifies contemporary gender roles and urges them to not tie their happiness and worth to a man. Morrison's passionate tone when describing Hagar and Ruth's emotions towards Milkman as they argue over him further conveys that both women depend on men for their survival.

Chapter 11 Precis

Milkman's Resurrection

In chapter 11 of her acclaimed novel Song of Solomon (1977), Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison conveys the protagonist, Milkman Dead, as a dynamic character who undergoes a resurrection from "dead" to alive in this bildungsroman chapter. Milkman stumbles into Shalimar unfamiliar with how to fit in, and Morrison uses foreshadowing when Mr.Solomon announces that a man delivered a message for Milkman that "your day is here"(262) along with him contemplating all his mistakes in life to forebode this change of heart. Guitar starts to strangle him, Milkman's life flashes before his eyes and choses action over inaction as he takes "a living breath this time, not a dying one"(279) and saves himself which is the first change in character. Morrison utilizes a respectful tone to describe Milkman's actions towards Sweet and his "good-humored humor, quite unlike the laughter the trip begun with"(281) with his new friends further demonstrates his transformation after being "scared to death"(280) and resurrecting into new life.

Chapter 15 Precis

Flight

In chapter 15 of the bildungsroman novel Song of Solomon(1977), Toni Morrison utilizes the motif of flight to embody the fulfillment of life that each character achieves in varying ways from the birds taking Pilate's earring as they fly away symbolizing her soul moving on to Milkman himself taking flight after finding his true identity. Morrison focuses the entire novel on Milkman "dream[ing] of flight"(332) but he had never actually taken flight because he was being held down by the obstacles of life, but just as Solomon "just took off"(328) and "left everybody down"(328) Milkman begins to understand that flight simply means living free of all of the struggles that weigh you down. Milkman also gains a greater appreciation for Pilate when he comes to the realization that "without ever leaving the ground, she could fly"(336) due to her ability to live life unrestrained in an unfree world. Milkman's whimsical tone when speaking to Sweet about his great-grandfather's flight makes Sweet worry that he might be drunk because of the new lightness and happiness of his attitude.