When slaves were brought to America they were taken from all they had known and forced to live in a land of dark irony that, while promising life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, provided them with only misery. In a situation such as the one in which the slaves found themselves, many people would rely on their religion to help them survive. But would slaves be able to find spiritual comfort within the parameters of a religion that had been passed on to them from the slaveholders? In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, African-Americans struggle to find a spirituality that is responsive to their needs and that encompasses their experiences in a way that the religion of the dominant culture does not.
Song of Solomon deals with the African-American struggle to find a spirituality not defined by a religion of the dominant culture. From the beginning of the novel, Morrison alludes to Christianity with the names she chooses-Hagar, First Corinthians, Magdalene, and Ruth for example. However, the two main allusions Morrison draws on are the name "Pilate" and the name of the biblical book Song of Solomon.
In the narrative in which Pilate is named, Pilate's father, who can't read, lets the Bible fall open and points to a set of lines that look agreeable to him. It just so happens that the word spelled out by those lines is "Pilate," the name of the Roman who turns Jesus over to be crucified. The midwife attending at Pilate's birth asks the father if he really wants to name the child after the person who killed Jesus, and the father replies, "I asked Jesus to save me my wife," and he continues, "I asked him all night long" (19). Yet his wife wasn't saved, and Pilate's father feels...
... middle of paper ...
...sition of meanings shows both majority and minority readers that African-American spiritual experience, while touched by majority experience, does not have to be formed by it.
Song of Solomon deals with the struggle of African-Americans to find a spiritual avenue that is responsive to their needs and reflective of their experience. The text helps people to examine differing ideas, learn about different experiences, and become sensitive to various needs. If we are able to learn something from Song of Solomon, really learn something, perhaps life, liberty and happiness will finally find us.
Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Toni Morrison. New York: Chelsea House Publishing, 1990.
Middleton, David. Toni Morrison's Fiction: Contemporary Criticism. New York: Garland, 1997.
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Plume, 1987.
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Defying the Myths of the African American Woman in Song of Solomon Throughout slavery, myths were created that tainted the image of the African American woman. These myths promote the misconceptions that African American women are promiscuous and are virtually useless. These myths caused these women to be degraded in the eyes of others as well as themselves. In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon womanhood is defined in ways that have destroyed these myths. Womanhood is defined according to one's sexuality, spirituality, beauty, identity, relationships, and motherhood.... [tags: Song Solomon essays]
826 words (2.4 pages)
- Flight in Song of Solomon, Native Son, A Worn Path, Sad Sweet Story of Sugar Lips Shinehot, and Portable Promised, and Land First Eagle Story Since the beginning of time all human beings have had a fascination with human flight. Watching a bird soar through the air, one cannot help but desire the same capabilities. Imagine the point of view of the bird that flies high above the trees, among the mountains, over the ocean, and high in the air, far away from the clamor of everyday life on the ground.... [tags: Song Solomon Essays]
5691 words (16.3 pages)
- Although religion does not exist as a central theme in Toni Morrison’s work, it does set premise for a richly intertwined web of symbolism. Morrison’s novels focus on the lives of characters acting in the present day or recent past. For African Americans, events of the past are a crucial facet of culture as they seek to remember their history, the most influential of these events reaching far back into the years of slavery. Historians argue that for incoming slaves, Christianity offered a religious ground for the displaced individual, a soil in which to replant the symbols of their native spirituality.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
2403 words (6.9 pages)
- Inclusive Spirituality in the Works of Linda Brent, Toni Morrison, and Sapphire - Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl, Song of Solomon, and Push What would it be like to be torn from your home and sent so far away you could never return. And what would it be like to have your history stripped from you, your name discarded, and your own religion replaced with one that had few, if any, ties to your previous life. When slaves were brought to America they were taken from all they had known and forced to live in a land of dark irony that, while promising life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, provided them with only misery.... [tags: compare and contrast essay examples]
2308 words (6.6 pages)
- Search for Personal Freedom Song of Solomon Personal freedom is the ability to ignore societal and familial influences to find the true sense of self. Individuals are truly liberated when they are physically, mentally, and spiritually free. The search for personal freedom is exemplified in Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. The main protagonist, Milkman achieves personal freedom through attainment of knowledge, by confronting his family, and by overcoming the prejudices of society. Knowledge is a primary factor in the attainment of personal freedom.... [tags: Song Solomon essays]
1618 words (4.6 pages)
- Searching for Identity in Song of Solomon Abstract: Whether Africans really fly or just escape a monumental burden, perhaps only through death, is a decision Toni Morrison has apparently left to her readers. Never the less, no matter what you believe, within Song of Solomon, the suggestion is, that in order to "fly" you must go back to the beginning, back to your roots. You must learn the "art" from the old messages. O Sugarman done fly away Sugarman done gone Sugarman cut across the sky Sugarman gone home...... [tags: Song Solomon essays]
2134 words (6.1 pages)
- Typically minority groups are thought of in the context of race; however, a minority group can also consist of gender and class. The struggles facing a minority group complicate further when these different facets of minority categories are combined into what is sometimes called a double minority. Throughout their writing, African American women have exposed how being a double minority changes the conditions of being a minority. In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, the African American female characters demonstrate the impact of having a double minority status.... [tags: Song of Solomon Essays]
829 words (2.4 pages)
- The Importance of Flight in Song of Solomon Flight is a major theme in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon. “Flight echoes throughout the story as a reward, as a hoped-for skill, as an escape, and as proof of intrinsic worth; however, by the end this is not so clear a proposition”(Lubiano 96). Song of Solomon ends with ‘flight’ but in such a way that the act allows for multiple interpretations: suicide; "real" flight and then a wheeling attack on his "brother"; or "real" flight and then some kind of encounter with the (possibly) killing arms of his brother.... [tags: Song Solomon essays]
990 words (2.8 pages)
- The Importance of Names in Song of Solomon Abstract: In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, names have great implication. Language is extremely personal and deeply rooted in culture. Names are an integral part of language, and they help to establish identity, define personality, and show ownership through formal and informal usage. " 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; / Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. / What's Montague. it is nor hand, nor foot, / Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part / Belonging to a man. O, be some other name.... [tags: Song Solomon essays]
1481 words (4.2 pages)
- Literacy in Song of Solomon Through literacy will come emancipation. But emancipation comes in many forms, as does literacy. The various aspects of academic literacy are rather obvious in relation to emancipation, especially when one is confronted with exclusion from membership in the dominant culture. Most, but not all, of Toni Morrison's characters in Song of Solomon appear to have attained at least a modicum of literacy. But what part does literacy play in the advancement of the individual, and to what lengths will one go to achieve it.... [tags: Song Solomon essays]
918 words (2.6 pages)
- Important Symbols in The Glass Menagerie
- Illusion vs. Reality in Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie
- Three Important Symbols in The Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams
- Essay on the Use of Symbols, Tensions, and Irony in The Glass Menagerie
- Essay on the Symbolism of the Menagerie in The Glass Menagerie
- Essay on The Glass Menagerie and the Life of Tennessee Williams