Song of Solomon Additional Summary

Toni Morrison


(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Song of Solomon is the account of Milkman Dead’s physical and spiritual journey to maturity. The quest for his Aunt Pilate’s gold leads him to his ancestral home in Virginia and the far more significant wealth of his personal and family history. Milkman’s journey is paralleled by Pilate’s long search for her father’s body and the meaning of his ghostly words. The novel turns on the conflict between two estranged households: that of Milkman’s parents, who embody materialism, and that of his aunt, who represents family.

The novel begins on February 18, 1931 (Morrison’s birthdate), with the disastrous flight of a man from the roof of “No Mercy” Hospital, triggering the labor of Milkman’s mother...

(The entire section is 752 words.)


(Society and Self, Critical Representations in Literature)

Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison’s third novel, received the 1978 National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. In her first work to feature a male protagonist, she established the rich narrative voice for which she has become famous. Macon “Milkman” Dead, grandson of a slave, evolves from a self-centered youth to a man of compassion and understanding. He completes this transition as he searches for his family origins, thus exemplifying Morrison’s belief in the importance of ancestors.

Originally, Milkman desires to know as little as possible about his family. Torn by the ongoing conflict between his parents, he sets out to find his inheritance, which he believes to be gold in the possession of his...

(The entire section is 413 words.)


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

Milkman Dead, so called because his lonely mother, Ruth Foster Dead, nursed him until he was six years old, grows up hating his family. His mother clings to her faded glory as the only daughter of Detroit’s first black doctor. His father, Macon Dead, is a ruthless landlord who built a successful realty business by exploiting his black tenants in Southside (the black section of the city, also called the Blood Bank for its frequent eruptions of violence) and who abused his wife.

At age twelve, Milkman meets Guitar Bains. Guitar introduces him to Milkman’s father’s sister, Pilate, whom Milkman knows his father hates. Pilate supports herself, her illegitimate daughter Reba, and Reba’s illegitimate daughter Hagar by...

(The entire section is 871 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Song of Solomon, for which Morrison won the National Book Critics Circle Award, is an enormously complex novel which, at the same time, is her most absolutely clear work; it may be her most popular book.

From the first lines of the book, the novel concerns itself with the idea of black men flying, an image it gets from black folktales which said that in the days of slavery, every now and then a slave would remember how to fly and would fly back to Africa. The main character of the novel, Macon Dead III (who picks up the name Milkman because his mother, Ruth Foster Dead, nurses him until he is past the age at which a child is usually weaned), is born the day after a black life insurance agent, Robert Smith,...

(The entire section is 1021 words.)


(Novels for Students)

Part I
Song of Solomon begins with the flight of Robert Smith, an insurance agent, from the roof of Mercy Hospital. Smith...

(The entire section is 1787 words.)