Song of Solomon Précis

Jennifer Yu

The Song of Songs

Toni Morrison, an exceptional writer brings the fictional masterpiece Song of Solomon (1997) to a close through a stunning ending that leaves an impact on the reader by putting Milkman and what he has 'learned' to the test. While the previous Milkman we knew neither made an effort to help or care about anyone other than himself (Morrison 214-16), nor accept responsibility for his actions (such as Hagar's insanity/heartbroken actions resulting from his cold-hearted rejection (99)), Morrison puts Milkman's newly found character to the test with several actions and events, the most important events being his taking of the burden known as Hagar's death (331-34) as well as the death of Pilate (335-37). Morrison does so in order to emphasize Milkman's penchant for accepting his actions and the shame/burden he must carry with him, as well as to show how the title of the book "Song of Solomon" has come to represent the idea that one's story will live on through the mouths of others whether through childish games or through heart wrenching songs like "Sugarman/Sugargirl/Solomon fly away", and even through a Biblical allusion to Moses when he and the Israelites took their "father's" (Joseph"s) bones down from Egypt to his resting place . Overall, Morrison's tone of full redemption/catharsis allows the reader to fully realize the change in Milkman's disposition and leave wondering if Milkman will continue to act this way in his final act of living against Guitar's "love for us", as well as the hope that this story will continue as Pilate's identity did after her death through the power of flight (336).


The Search for Self-Identity

Toni Morrison, an exceptional writer who authored the fictional masterpiece Song of Solomon (1997), creates a masterpiece that asserts the difficulties behind an individuals's journey of self discovery through the life of several characters such as Pilate. Pilate's experiences from birth such as her missing navel (Morrison 143) and her drifter-status drifting from state to state (145) as an outcast of proper society (141) ultimately all add up and become the sum of her identity in her earring box (167). Up until the backstory of Pilate, the novel has revolved around the story of Milkman and his search for his identity and where he belongs; whether in the strict society of reality with his father Macon Dead II, with Guitar and The Days (159), or somewhere in between the the two sides of the spectrum: Pilate's story is an example for Milkman to parallel with his own much like how Leslie Silko's Ceremony emphasizes the repetition of the past in the form of new characters, Morrison's develops the growth of Milkman through the bildungsroman-like back story of Pilate and her search for identity.

All Grown Up

Toni Morrison, an exceptional writer who authored the fictional masterpiece Song of Solomon (1997), displays Milkman's self-growth since the beginning of the novel by forcing him [Milkman] into completely foreign situations. Up until this chapter, it is easy for us as the reader to summarize his life(style) as one of privilege- a lifestyle from which he receives a rude awakening when he is pulled over by the police and searched and treated as a common criminal (Morrison 203), as if he were any other common "black" criminal. By having Milkman undergo this experience, Morrison accomplishes the awakening of his self-identity as a "black person" (a fact that he mostly ignored due to his father's numerous "connections" that allowed the Dead family to live on a separate tier from the rest of their neighbors) and erases his vanity through the "evening out" of his limping leg that affected his walk with an air like that of a peacock's strut that "made him seem more important than he was". Through the inclusion of these events, Morrison is point-blank informing the reader that this is a climactic point in the book due to Milkman's beginning of redemption for his previous lifestyle as well as the beginning of his path from being a "D(d)ead" man to a live one.

"Sunrise, Sunset"

Toni Morrison, an exceptional writer who authored the fictional masterpiece Song of Solomon (1997), continues the display of Milkman's self-growth since the beginning of the novel through his experiences in Shalimar as well as his "rebirth". Milkman begins the chapter as an outcast in the town of Shalimar due to his "Northern snobbery", his disregard for the names of both himself and the townspeople (Morrison 266-267) (creating a division along wealth status which leads to a brawl showing his childlike manners of handling matters), his repentance of his "deserving" actions towards people such as his mother and sisters (276): which all culminates in the hunting party's "crucifixion" of the bobcat (280-83) symbolizing the crucifixion of his worldly ideals of the old Macon Dead the III and becoming Macon "Alive". Ultimately, Morrison has Milkman undergo his near-death experience (279-80) in order to allow the reader to neatly place a marker on a timeline that marks the rebirth of Milkman's personality -from a vain spoiled child dressed in a three-piece suit, to a man in military fatigue (271) who understands the wrongs of his actions of self-entitlement (276). Overall, Morrison inks a wonderful chapter that allows the reader to take a step back, and fully see the full growth of Milkman from the beginning of the novel to the present where he has grown up from the vain, spoiled child, to a man beginning to feel remorse for his actions.