Friday, July 24, 2009

Song of Solomon Summary

Back by popular demand is our series of summaries of great books. Today's book is Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison:

The main character, Macon "Milkman" Dead III, derives his nickname from the fact that he was breastfed for far too long. A passing neighbor happens to see him through the window being breastfed by his mother. He is so tall by now his feet are "touching the floor" (one of his legs is a half inch shorter than the other). He quickly gains a reputation for being a "Mommy's boy" - this is in direct contrast to his best friend, Guitar.

Milkman has two sisters, "First Corinthians" and "Magdelene called Lena". The daughters of the family are named by putting a pin in the Bible; the males are named after their father. The name Macon Dead was the result of an administrative error when Milkman's grandfather had to register subsequent the end of slavery.

Milkman's mother (Ruth) is the Doctor's daughter; she tends to make her husband feel inadequate, and it is clear she idolized her father. After her father dies, her husband claims to have found her in bed with the dead body, sucking his fingers. Ruth later tells Milkman that she was kneeling at her father's bedside kissing the only part of him that remained unaffected by the illness from which he died. Macon is often violent and aggressive towards her out of frustration when she acts helpless, because he has worked hard to get to where he is, whereas Ruth has always been "daddy's little girl." However, on one occasion, Milkman punches his father after he strikes their mother.

In contrast, Macon Dead Jr.'s sister, Pilate, is seen as nurturing—an Earth Mother type of character. Born without a navel, she is somewhat of a mystical character. It is strongly implied that she is Divine—a female Christ (her name is ironic). Macon has not spoken to his sister for years and did not think highly of her. She, like Macon, has had to fend for herself from an early age, but she has dealt with her past in a different way. She has one daughter, Reba, and a granddaughter named Hagar. Hagar falls desperately in love with Milkman, and is unable to cope with his rejection. Guitar, Milkman's erstwhile best friend, tries to kill Milkman more than once after incorrectly suspecting he has of cheated him out of hidden gold.

The novel ends on a poignant and ambiguous note: after resolving to confront Guitar, Milkman finally learns to fly.

This summary was taken from Wikipedia.

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