In Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, the relationships between whites and blacks are a main theme. Throughout the whole novel Morrison adds her own opinions toward the race problems that the characters of Not Doctor Street experience. Poverty is another big issue in the novel and many of the main characters struggle financially. Money becomes a means of escape for many of the characters, especially Milkman and Guitar. For both men their quests for gold leaves them empty handed, but their personalities changed. Milkman’s quest was to be independent, especially since he was still living with his parents. Milkman however, was not poor. His family was considered one of the most financially comfortable black families in town. He was the spoiled son and it was galling but easy to work for his father, easy to be waited on hand and foot by his mother and sisters, far easier than striking out on his own. So his idea of freedom was not really one of working to support himself, but simply having easy money given to him, and not having to give anything to anyone in return. It was his father Macon Jr. who informed Milkman of the possibility of Pilate having millions of dollars in gold wrapped in a green tarp that was suspended from her ceiling. The hidden gold was in Milkman’s opinion his only ticket out of Not Doctor Street, his way of having his own possessions, being free from his parents lending hand. For Guitar it was a way to escape and fund his Seven Days mission.
Though gold was the initial desire, Milkman was able to forget about his quest for money, because his quest for his family history eventually brought him more wealth and happiness than the gold ever would have. When Milkman gives up in his search for gold, he puts himself on a path to discovering his own self, who Milkman was apart from his family. This discovery is what allows him to “fly” or fall from the cliff at the end of the novel. Guitar however was not able to forget the gold; he believes Milkman has betrayed him so he sets off to follow and to murder his best friend. Poverty led many people like Guitar to join the Seven Days, a racial group that avenges injustices committed against African-Americans by murdering innocent whites. Why if racism and injustice towards blacks rather than economic injustice motivated the group, are all of its member’s poor?
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...is past, as well as the mistakes of the people in his community. Milkman fights the oppression much like his great grandfather does by rising above it, and by soaring over his own oppression. Since he used a non-violent stance I felt this could represent Martin Luther King Jr. who helped African Americans to rise above oppression as well. Although he doesn’t bring a change of masses, Milkman himself has changed, and through time he can show others how to ride the wind. Milkman helps to show that flying does not have to be seen as a physical action, but as an ability an individual has to make a life away from oppression, in a world that oppresses many. An individual flying in the novel is seen as a victory over all the obstacles one has to hurdle in life. It’s the character of the individual that determines whether or not you surrender to the wind and fly, or if you stay on the Earth wondering why things never change.
LeClair, Thomas. "The Language Must Not Sweat: A Conversation with Toni Morrison." Taylor-Guthrie 119-128.
Rushdy, Ashraf H.A. "'Rememory': Primal Scenes and Constructions in Toni Morrison's Novels." Contemporary Literature 31.3 (1990): 300-323.
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