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Free Study Guide for Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

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The novel is told by an un-named third-person limited-omniscient narrator with a male point of view. The story moves freely between time periods and thoughts of different characters.


Fiction, bildungsroman, and adventure.


1) Examine the issue of naming in the novel. How does it connect to African American history and how does Morrison deal with that history?

2) Analyze the characters of the older generation of African-American women in the novel, especially Ruth Foster and Pilate, but also taking into account Mrs. Baines. What function do they serve in establishing the novelís themes?

3) Trace the course of the relationship between Guitar Baines and Milkman Dead from its beginnings to its ending. How can this relationship be read as emblematic of African-American history?

4) Map the town in Michigan where Milkman grows up--the distinctions between Milkmanís neighborhood on Not Doctor Street and Southside and Honore Island.

5) Trace Milkmanís search for family origins in his connections with the people in the south whom he encounters.

6) Examine the issue of internalized racism in a character analysis of Hagar Dead. Concentrate especially on her last scene when she searches through town for the right cosmetics and clothing to attract Milkman.

7) Examine the issue of death in the novel. How is it regarded by various characters?

8) Analyze the descriptions of Lincolnís Heaven. How does the farm and what happens to it connect with the history of the Reconstruction period?

9) Trace Milkmanís change over the course of the novel from self-involvement to other-focused. What prompts this change?

10) Trace Pilateís progress from the time she was left in the cave by her brother to the time meets him again in Michigan.

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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison: Free BookNotes Summary

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