Free Study Guide for Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison|
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SONG OF SOLOMON: FREE BOOK SUMMARY / CHAPTER NOTES
Guitar reveals that his day is Sunday. He says before the members of the Seven Days kill someone, they say "Your day has come." They try to kill the person in the same manner the African American was killed. Guitar says Robert Smith was a member of the Seven Days. It became too much for him so he killed himself. Porter is also a member. It had started getting to him for a while there, but then he got some rest and now heís okay. Members of the Seven Days canít marry or have children.
Milkman canít understand why they donít find the actual perpetrators
instead of killing innocent European Americans in retaliation. He uses
the Jews as an example, pointing out the legal procedures the Jews go
through when they hunt down and find Nazi war criminals. Guitar points
out the African Americans are poor and therefore donít have "the
money, the state, the country to finance [their] justice." Milkman
thinks Guitar sounds like Malcolm X. Guitar says he is not interested
in Malcolm Xís organization. Unlike Malcolm X, who renamed himself as
a means of distancing himself from the name the slave holder gave his
ancestor, Guitar says he owns the fact that his slave time past is part
of his heritage, part of who he is. He says, "slave names donít bother
me; but slave status does." Milkman wonders what is to stop members
of the Seven Days from killing African Americans. Guitar says they donít
kill African Americans. Milkman points out that Guitarís logic is flawed.
Instead of saying, "I would never kill you," he can only say
"We donít off Negroes." Milkman wonders if there are many young
men among the Seven Days, since young men have a habit of changing the
Here, the beginning of the novel in the suicide of Robert Smith, the insurance sales person, is explained. Robert Smith was a member of the Seven Days. He is thus connected to Guitar Bains, Milkmanís friend who seems to be becoming Milkmanís rival. According the Guitar, the philosophy behind the Seven Days is a rational one: seven men take responsibility for one day of the week. When an African American is killed by European Americans, one of the Seven Days kills a European American.
Guitarís philosophy has some elements in common with that of the Nation of Islam, which has asserted a kind of race theory that people of European descent are evil and unnatural. Guitar uses a race theory which is structurally much like the race theories developed by people of European heritage for the last two hundred years in regard to people of African heritage.
The very notion of "race" is only that old. It was developed as ideological support for European imperialism. As European nations claimed the land, people, and resources of other lands, European ideologues created a theory of race as a rationalization for that appropriation. They asserted that there were separate "races" of people and named them, initially at least, Caucasoid, Negroid, and Mongoloid. These categories quickly proved inadequate and other "race" categories were developed. In developing the notion of "race," Europeans developed a convenient theory to support their appropriation of other lands, a necessary theory since they based their morality in large part on a prohibition against stealing or murdering. If conquered people were qualitatively different--and inferior--from European people, European people didnít have to operate with them according to the same rules which applied to themselves.
When Guitar takes up a race theory about the evil and unnaturalness of whites,
he is using the same kind of strategy of thought used by his oppressors.
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. 09 May 2017