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Please explain the concept of slavery in Tony Morriosn's Song of Solomon?Actually, I...

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gangawat | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted April 11, 2011 at 3:37 PM via web

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Please explain the concept of slavery in Tony Morriosn's Song of Solomon?

Actually, I would like to ask that how Tony Morrison used the concept of slavery in her Song of Solomon and is there any influence of biblical concept of slavery on it? Please answer in a great detail.

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alundberg | High School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted April 21, 2011 at 12:48 AM (Answer #1)

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I think one of the interesting things about this is the ideas surrounding slavery.  Characters in this novel are enslaved both literally by chains (Macon the first was a freed slave and then there is the pervasive story of the flying Africans who escaped slavery by growing wings and flying home) and figuratively by the past and their desires.  Milkman is enslaved by his name and his constant need to look into the past.  This is seen when he looks backward as they take their Sunday drives, as he walks against the stream of people who are all going the opposite direction, and in his refusal to look at his present and future (think about when he covers his eyes as Hagar tries to kill him).  Macon II is enslaved by his hatred and his desire for Pilate's "gold".  Even Guitar, in a sense, is enslaved by his personal need to balance the scales by killing white people for their crimes against black people.  The women, especially Hagar and Ruth and Reba, are enslaved by their need to be wanted by the men in their lives.  Hagar is enslaved by her monthly urges to kill Milkman, Reba by her desires to have a man in her life, and Ruth by her need to have physical contact/relations with Macon and her father.  Biblically you can look at the names of the women (all the Dead names are chosen randomly from the Bible).  Perhaps the most significant name would be Hagar's.  Hagar was the handmaid of Abraham's wife, Sarah.  She was given to Abraham as a "stand in" for Sarah and she had a child, Ishmael, with him.  Sarah became angry with her after time and demanded that Abraham not include Ishmael in the inheritance.  Abraham then freed Hagar and Ishmael and sent them out into the desert.  Unfortunately for Hagar in Morrison's novel, Hagar is unable to rise above her situation and save herself from her own despair once Milkman metaphorically sets her free.  Hope this helps.

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