Free Study Guide for Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison|
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SONG OF SOLOMON: FREE PLOT SUMMARY / CHAPTER ANALYSIS
Macon and Milkman were discussing the event of the robbery. Milkman and Guitar had been stopped by police as they drove away. They were taken to the police station and thatís where they found out the bag contained not gold but bones and rocks. Macon had come to the jail and bribed the officers to release the two. They insisted, however, that Pilate come to verify the story. Milkman was shocked and ashamed when Pilate came into the jailhouse looking like a little, frail, muddle-headed old woman. She had behaved in a way that made the officers laugh at her and think her powerless. Milkman had noticed Guitar looking at Pilate with complete hatred as they dropped her off at her house.
On the way home, Pilate sat in the front seat and told Macon the story of how she went back for the bones. She said she had waited a day and a half to come to the entrance of the cave and then she found he was gone. So she left also and didnít come back for three years. She came back because her father had appeared to her and told her she couldnít just leave a body. She told Macon she agreed with that idea. She believes that when a person takes another personís life, she is responsible for it. It weighs on her unless she does right by the dead person. She had decided long since that it was better the carry the bones around with her than to leave them behind, because she would be carrying the memory of taking the manís life anyway. She told the police, however, that it was her lynched husbandís bones and that she had never been able to afford to bury him.
Milkman stayed drunk for a couple of days and then went looking for Guitar. When he got to Guitarís place, he saw Guitar outside the door guarding it. Then he saw the other of the Seven Days get into an old buick, the same car he had seen Corinthians riding in when she was being dropped off in front of the house. He had smiled at her for having a clandestine affair at her age, but when he saw that she must be having an affair with one of the Seven Days, he decided it was dangerous for her.
When Milkman came home one night slightly drunk, Magdelena called him
to come to her room. He was impatient to go to bed, but went with her
reluctantly. She told him to look out the window at a maple tree outside.
Itís dying and she wants him to see how important that fact is. She tells
him she planted that maple tree years ago on the Sunday that he urinated
on her. She tells him the story of the Sunday drive when she had been
chosen to take him up the hill on the roadside to urinate. She had picked
flowers and when she got to him, he had urinated on her. She had hated
him for that and wished him dead, but she had also planted the flowers
in the yard. They hadnít lived, but the maple tree had sprouted there
and grew. Now it was dying. Magdelena says he had been urinating on the
three women of the house as long as he has been alive and she will not
stand for it any more. She says he has never noticed all they do for him
or his own privilege which comes from no other merit than the fact that
he has a penis. She tells him she knows it was he who told Macon that
Corinthians was seeing Porter. Now Corinthians has been forced to quit
her job and is not allowed to leave the house. Magdelena tells Milkman
he "has pissed [his] last in this house." Milkman leaves her
room thinking to himself that she has given him good advice.
Book one ends with Magdelena telling Milkman that he has been treating the
women in the house like they were servants to him all his life. She has
found out that Milkman told Macon that Corinthians has been having an
affair with Porter. Macon has forced Corinthians to quit her job and remain
at home. Magdelena tells Milkman to leave them alone and he walks away
thinking he should take her advice. Even though Toni Morrison writes this
novel with a male protagonist, she employs the points of view of women
to uncover Milkmanís male privilege. Milkman has lived his life at home
being treated like a prince, never recognizing the work it took on the
part of his mother and sisters to enable that life or the fact that he
only got that life by virtue of his gender, not his merit. Magdelena has
been a very minor character up until this point in the novel. She has
been almost wholly silent. Here, Morrison brings her out to give Milkman
the truth of his life. This technique of bringing a previously silent
character to life at a strategic point in the life of the protagonist
is Morrisonís own invention. The force of Magdelenaís words arises as
much from her previous silence as her present eloquence.
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. 09 May 2017