Song of Solomon Précis
Novel by Toni Morrison
In the twisted yet satisfying novel, Song of Solomon (1977), by the eccentric Toni Morrison, Morrison challenges the events of the 1950’s as well as the mindset of the time with characters who express individual characteristics to bring forth a hidden meaning behind those who are seemingly natural at their own stylistic behavior (Milkman, Pilate, Ruth, Macon II). Morrison also brings forth a bizarre twang to the normal life, eating away at the conventional conduct as the story progresses, making each characters’ eventful lives change at a whim, such as the “prophets” Railroad and Hospital Tommy, Milkman’s stunted leg, Dr. Foster’s death which crystallizes a psychotic alteration in Ruth’s brain, and Milkman’s walk against the current, putting a pretentious air around him; these developments are crucial to the quester as it brings change to their lives and perhaps changes their fate through free will. In order to attain these character developments, Morrison has very deliberate names for each character, each symbolic of the bible or related to the story in a way that brings out their raison d’être and completes their purpose of being a character in the book. As a result of the obvious yet eccentric names that Morrison assigns her characters, she can bring abnormal behavior into her book without much criticizing, allowing her words to appear as a masterpiece and a work of art rather than a book with distorted thoughts.
In the critically acclaimed novel, Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison implements juxtaposing ideas causing deception to alter the reality that we believed was predetermined for Milkman. The first appearance of this deception is seen with his mother’s confession regarding her love for her father as well as for Milkman, her story directly combatting Macon Jr’s causes a disruption in the “garbage pail” (Morrison 120) mindset that we see Milkman represent himself as; he begins to actually think for himself about the real reason as to why his mother’s love is unusual. Moreover, Guitar’s opposing views and sagacious ideology pins Milkman’s brain with synapses that Macon III tries desperately to stop, yet fails to do so and as a result, pushes Milkman to become less passive about the controversial occurrences surrounding him. To achieve this bewildering character development, Morrison utilizes the eccentric element that she established previously in the novel and sculpts each one into electric shocks that power Milkman’s monochromatic view of the world and pushes him to become a man of thought and knowledge. Morrison’s careful word selection brings a simple looking conversation to hold a bigger meaning under it most notably in the conversation between Guitar and Milkman where we see common items in a house: cigarettes, alcohol and eggs become scissors that cut into the thick layer of passive thought that we see in Milkman.
In the critically acclaimed novel, Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison extracts the element of greed from both Guitar and Milkman, causing them to hurt close friends in order to achieve their goals. As a result of the Birmingham Church bombing, Guitar is sworn to eliminate four white girls in order to balance the ratio; he must utilize the “gold” from Pilate’s home in order to obtain the funds necessary to carry out his task. Milkman already has the precognition of greed from his father’s side and as a result, only requires the “gold” to attain luxuries such as boats, airplanes, and the like. Morrison pushes the two characters’ relationship and ideals, no matter how contrasting they are, in order to pull them towards the same conclusion and employ selfish desires to pump their bond. To give us a paradigm of Guitar and Milkman’s actions, Morrison exploits the peacock’s symbolism, comparing the ostentatious bird to perhaps a foreshadowing of the result of their actions.
In the critically acclaimed novel, Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison suggests a metamorphosis with First Corinthians Dead, in that she reveals her desires to separate herself from her family and become independent. From the beginning of the chapter, we see that Corinthians questions herself: why, with her high education, is she continuing to scrub floors and wear a silly uniform when her bilingual abilities as well as literacy could take her to a greater workplace and environment? Moreover, her restrictions with having a significant other and making love breaks free as she bolts for her lover after furiously denying her. Morrison’s ability to link each conflict with each other is selectively initiated in order to achieve the effect of having a seamless story with each character--in this case, Corinthians--going through a change, leaving no character static. The desperation that she pulls from Corinthians is noted in her internal conflict with changing her career as well as her decision to sleep with Porter forces the well mannered, educated woman to sprawl herself over the hood of a car and give us the sense of her anguish.
In the critically acclaimed novel, Song of Solomon (1977), Toni Morrison implies the standard “quest” archetype and takes Milkman through an adventure to a foreign world in order to obtain a material luxury, but instead comes across intellectual fuel that burgeons his growth more so than the object he intended to retrieve. The first piece to the “quest” puzzle comes with Milkman’s very one-sided argument with Lena; she lays down the foundation to his independency by casting him aside after hurting his own family through passive actions and it is revealed in the conversation of the location of the gold between Guitar and Milkman with Milkman so intently wanting to travel and search alone in a new land that is foreign to him, but well known to his “people” as described by Reverend Cooper who greets Milkman with extraneous joy. After being directed a few times, Milkman stumbles upon the overgrown, nature-infested house that houses Circe, the old lady who took care of Milkman’s father and aunt; while there, Milkman expected to get instructions to the cave and be on his way, but Circe gives him information that he never would have expected: the secret behind the bones in Pilate’s bag and the real name of Macon Dead I; additionally, the story progresses with an evolution with Milkman’s possessions starting with the destruction of his expensive suit, watch, and finally the lack of gold in the cave--the original objective of the “quest” that Milkman goes on--pulling on the reins of his pompous and extravagant lifestyle. Morrison definitely makes the “quest” archetype apparent while restricting Milkman’s lavish habits in order to achieve the dynamic character that we need to see from Milkman like preparing a pasta dish slowly with a collection of exotic spices and quality pasta crafted by hand. To achieve this purpose, Morrison implements a slightly more confident tone in Milkman’s tiny range of expressions and relieves his fear of talking to strangers and finding his own path to the destination accompanied by directions given by strangers.
In the national bestseller Song of Solomon (1977), Nobel Prize winner, Toni Morrison argues that Milkman’s near death experience results in his almost death and following resurrection as a new man. In the woods, while Milkman is struggling to keep up with the hunt (due to his journey towards imminent self discovery), Guitar attempts to murder him asphyxiation; however, his futile endeavor results in Milkman’s resurrection; “his legs were stalks, tree trunks, a part of his body that extended down down down into the rock and soil, and were comfortable there--on the earth and on the place where he walked. And he did not limp.” (Morrison 281). Morrison emphasizes Milkman’s strength after the event in order to parallel his strength with that of Pilate-- who is often described as standing like a tree, and also to contrast it with his initial weakness. Morrison’s tone following Guitar”s assassination attempt is (strangely) exhilarated which further reflects Milkman’s rebirth.