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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
Transcript of Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison
SOLOMON'S LEAP We live in a society in which the fathers soared and the mothers told stories so that the children would know their names" . This book provides a clear expression of Morrison's belief that "understanding self and past is always a project of community" through Milkman Dead's extraordinary journey of awakening. One critic has suggested that Morrison's "apprehension of the possible loss of the orature and cultural history" of African Americans provides the impetus for much of her work . The preservation and continuance of these vital traditions are only possible through the "magic of memory," which "exists as a communal property of friends, of family, of a people. . . .[and] is the basis for constructing relationships with the other who also remembers." (http://spiny.com/naomi/thesis/) Milkman Dead's childhood realization that he cannot fly serves to set him apart from other people; in a way, he even detaches himself from his own life. Milkman's loss of "interest in himself" does not constitute selflessness, for he becomes astoundingly selfish, but rather indicates a lack of real involvement in life and an ignorance of his true personal and racial identity. It is only "when an individual . . . can establish a specific connection with his people's origins [that] he becomes rooted" (129). Milkman wants to fly, but his wish for flight is a selfish escapism that can never give him true freedom. Milkman is "struggling toward an acceptance of the fact that an active commitment to others is paradoxically the best of all possible means for fulfilling oneself and one's personal freedom" (136). Until he completes an odyssey of discovery and realizes this absolute paradox -- that a person must be rooted in order to fly -- Milkman must remain flat-footed on the ground. (CITED: http://spiny.com/naomi/thesis/) Milkman (Macon Dead, Jr.) Milkman allays the ferocity of Pilate's anger by revealing his recent discoveries, which finally explain the true origin of the bag of bones Pilate has carried with her for decades. After their father's death, Pilate's brother Macon attacked a white man in panicky self-defense and left the body in a cave. Years later, Pilate dreams of her father, who tells her: "You just can't fly on off and leave a body" (Morrison 147). Pilate interprets this admonition as a command to return to Pennsylvania to collect the skeleton of the white man, and does so, placing the bones in a sack which she hangs from the rafters of her house. Now Milkman informs her that the bones are actually her father's, and Pilate realizes that she must bury her father's remains in Shalimar where he was born. "Peace circled" Pilate on the ensuing trip to Shalimar, and Milkman "felt it too" (334). Climbing to Solomon's Leap, the rocky site of their ancestor's legendary flight, Pilate and Milkman find enough earth for a burial: "Pilate squatted down and opened the sack while Milkman dug. A deep sigh escaped from the sack, and the wind turned chill . . . . Pilate laid the bones carefully into the small grave" (335). Instead of a rock or cross, Pilate "reached up and yanked her earring from her ear, splitting the lobe" (335) and placed the snuffbox atop her father's grave. Then, as Pilate stood up, "it seemed to Milkman that he heard the shot after she fell" (335). (http://spiny.com/naomi/thesis/) PILATE Hagar is Pilate’s granddaughter and Reba’s daughter, who has a pretty bed with pretty sheets and who, since she was a little girl, has hated dirt and disorganization. This makes her an unsolvable puzzle to her mother and grandmother. She is given everything she ever wants, so when Milkman, her cousin and lover of almost fourteen years, dumps her, she goes mad. It’s a madness the likes of which we really haven’t seen since Ophelia lost her Hamlet, since Ryna lost her Solomon. (http://www.shmoop.com/song-of-solomon/hagar-dead.html) African Ghost African Ghost occurred throughout the book to constantly guide Milkman to his true gold - his ancestry. Represented the past sticking with you throughout your life's journey Born to Pilate of a man on the island colony off the coast of Virginia, Reba is a lucky woman. She always wins things, such that people from far and wide come to her to ask for her help choosing lotto numbers. She has a tendency to give opulent gifts to her boyfriends, of which there are many, with the exception of her diamond ring. After winning this ring for being the 500,000th customer to walk through the Sears doors, Reba wears it around her neck. She only gives it up when Hagar, her only child, demands money for new clothes and new makeup. We don’t see Reba after Hagar’s death, and we wonder who will take care of her at the end of the novel when both Pilate and Milkman die and disappear. Reba Dead The multiple generations of the Dead Family overtime. The evolution of the family played a major role in the Song of Solomon to enhance Milkman's character and appreciate his family and self-worth. This picture represents how Milkman received his name with him being breast fed by his mother until he was 4 years old When Milkman realizes that Pilate is dead, he sings "louder and louder as though sheer volume would wake her. He woke only the birds, who shuddered off into the air" and one of the birds "dived into the new grave and scooped something shiny in its beak before it flew away" (336). As Pilate's name-earring soars away, Milkman suddenly knows "why he loved her so. Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly" (336).
Now Milkman stands up to face the murderous love of Guitar Bains, ready to give everything for love, replete with the hard-won knowledge that a truly connected love is not bondage but freedom. Duplicating the flying leap of his famed ancestor, without "wiping away the tears, taking a deep breath, or even bending his knees" (Morrison 337), Milkman launches himself into the cold night air:
As fleet and bright as a lodestar, he wheeled toward Guitar and it did not matter which of them would give up his ghost in the killing arms of his brother. For now he knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it. (337) This picture represents the theme of love Hagar and Milkman had for the 14 years even though they were cousins Solomon is the father of 21 children and the husband to Ryna. He is the legend at the heart of novel, for he flew away to Africa, leaving his children behind. There is a rock in the Blue Ridge Mountains named for him: Solomon’s Leap, and this is the rock upon which Pilate dies, Solomon’s son, Jake, is buried, and from which Milkman jumps. Four generations of the family tree are united on this rock. Solomon is renowned by some for his ability to fly, and he is scoffed at by others for leaving a wife and a gigantic family behind. Solomon SONG of SOLOMON
by Toni Morrison