Free Study Guide for Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison|
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SONG OF SOLOMON: FREE BOOK REPORT / BOOK REVIEW NOTES
Milkman finally hears the story of his grandparentsí origins. It is
a story of a magic departure, Africans who refused to remain slaves, but
flew back to Africa. The story is poignant for its connection to the history
of many slaves and their descendants. So many times families were broken
apart when slave holders sold members off to other plantations. Here,
the family is broken apart, but the agent of this break isnít the white
slave holder, but the African man himself who refused to stay in slavery.
Milkman got back to Sweetís house that day in high spirits. He told Sweet he wanted to swim. She took him to a gulch and he swam exuberantly singing the song of the flying Africans. Sweet asked him if he belonged to "that tribe of niggers." He said he did and that his great-grandfather had flown off like a black eagle. She asked him who did he leave behind.
Milkman got back home soon after that. He couldnít wait to tell everyone all that he had found out. He went first to Pilateís house. When he walked in the door and held his arms out to her, she knocked him out by smashing a bottle over his head. When he woke up, he was in the cellar. As he lay there thinking, he realized Hagar must be dead. He knew Pilate must have put him in the cellar with something of Hagarís. He began to call out to Pilate telling her she had been carrying her own fatherís bones around all those years and that her father had been calling his wifeís name, not telling Pilate to sing. She came into the cellar and he told her the whole story. She handed him a box full of Hagarís hair.
He went home and told his father all the stories he had heard. He greeted
his mother and found out that Corinthians had moved out and was living
with Porter in a small house. He and Pilate drove down to Shalimar soon
afterwards. Pilate was happy. When they arrived, Pilate fit right into
the community. On the second night, he and Pilate walked out to Solomonís
leap and buried the bones. Pilate ripped the earring out of her ear and
buried it on the grave. Just as Pilate stood up from the grave, she was
shot in the back of the head. As she lay there dying, she asked Milkman
to sing for her. He sings "Sugargirl donít leave me." Two birds
circle overhead. One of them swoops down and picks up the earring out
of the grave and flies away with it. When she dies, he stands up and calls
to Guitar. He asks Guitar if he wants his life. Guitar smiles and puts
his rifle down. Milkman leaps down to him calling "You need it? Here."
He knows now "what Shalimar knew: if you surrendered to the air,
you could ride it."
The final chapter brings all the elements of the theme together: Guitarís
idea that everyone wants a Black manís life, Pilateís song turned around
and made into a song for her, the burial of Pilate and Maconís father,
Pilateís earring bearing her name being carried up into the sky by a bird
like her grandfather flew into the sky when he left his family behind
in order to return to Africa, the final struggle of a reconciliation between
Guitar and Milkman, and with it, Milkmanís own final letting go of all
possessions and all ties to the earth.
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. 09 May 2017