CliffsNotes Song Of Solomon

Overview

Song of Solomon explores the quest for cultural identity through an African American folktale about enslaved Africans who escape slavery by fleeing back to Africa. The novel tells the story of Macon "Milkman" Dead, a young man alienated from himself and estranged from his family, his community, and his historical and cultural roots. Author Toni Morrison, long renowned for her detailed imagery, visual language, and "righting" of black history, guides the protagonist along a 30-year journey that enables him to ...

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Overview

Song of Solomon explores the quest for cultural identity through an African American folktale about enslaved Africans who escape slavery by fleeing back to Africa. The novel tells the story of Macon "Milkman" Dead, a young man alienated from himself and estranged from his family, his community, and his historical and cultural roots. Author Toni Morrison, long renowned for her detailed imagery, visual language, and "righting" of black history, guides the protagonist along a 30-year journey that enables him to reconnect with his past and realize his self-worth.

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Editorial Reviews

Reynolds Price
The [novel's] purpose seems to be communication of painfully discovered and powerfully held convictions about the possibility of transcendence within human life . . . .The end is unresolved. Does Milkman survive[?] . . . .Few Americans . . .can say more than she has in this wise and spacious novel.
The New York Times
Margo Jefferson
The ordinary spars with the extraordinary in Morrison's books. What would be a classically tragic sensibility, with its implacable move toward crisis and the extremes of pity and horror, is altered and illuminated by a thousand smaller, natural occurrences and circumstances.
Ms. Magazine
Sacred Fire
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison's lyrical third novel, begins with an arresting scene -- a man on a roof threatening to jump, a woman standing on the ground, singing, and another woman entering labor. The child born of that labor is Macon "Milkman" Dead III; Song of Solomon is the epic story of his life-time journey toward an understanding of his own identity and ancestry. Milkman is born burdened with the materialistic values of his father and the weight of a racist society; over the course of his odyssey he reconnects to his deeper family values and history, rids himself of the burden of his father's expectations and society's limitations, and literally learns to fly.

When the novel opens, Milkman is clearly a man with little or no concern for others. Like his father, he is driven only by his immediate sensual needs; he is spoiled and self-centered and pursues money and sexual gratification at all costs. The novel centers around his search for a lost bag of gold that was allegedly taken from a man involved in his grandfather's murder and then abandoned by his Aunt Pilate. The search for gold takes Milkman and his friend Guitar, a young black militant, to Shalimar, a town named for his great-grandfather Solomon, who according to local legend escaped slavery by taking flight back to Africa on the wind. On his journey, under the influence of his Aunt Pilate, a strong, fearless, natural woman whose values are the opposite of Milkman's father's, Milkman begins to come to terms with his family history, his role as a man, and the possibilities of his life apart from a cycle of physical lust and satisfaction.

In telling the story of Milkman's quest to discover the hidden history of the Deads, Morrison expertly weaves together elements of myth, magic, and folklore. She grapples with fundamental issues of class and race, ancestry and identity, while never losing sight of Milkman's compelling story. The language in Song of Solomon, Morrison's only novel with a male protagonist, is earthy and poetic, the characters eccentric, and the detail vivid and convincing. The result is a novel that is at once emotionally intense, provocative, and inspiring in its description of how one man rediscovered the latent power within him.

Song of Solomon is considered to be Toni Morrison's masterpiece and is in the top echelon of literary works produced by any American writer. It is also her breakthrough novel in both critical and commercial success: It was the first African American novel since Native Son to be a main selection of the Book of the Month club and it won the prestigious National Book Critics Circle Award among others. The book received a second life, and best-seller status, twenty years after its initial publication when talk show host Oprah Winfrey announced it as a selection for her on-air book club.

Reynolds Price
"Toni Morrison s fisrt two books - The Bluest Eye with the purity of its terrors and Sula with its dense poetry and the depth of its probing into a small circle of lives - were strong novels. Yet, firm as they both were in achievement and promise, they didn't fully forecast her new book, Song Of Solomon.... ...Toni Morrison has earned attention and praise. Few Americans know, and can say, more than she has in this wise and spacious novel."- Books of the Century, The New York Times, September, 1977
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780764585074
  • Publisher: Wiley, John & Sons, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/1999
  • Series: Cliffs Notes Series
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 85
  • Product dimensions: 5.26 (w) x 8.24 (h) x 0.25 (d)

Table of Contents

Life and Background of the Author.

Introduction to the Novel.

A Brief Synopsis.

List of Characters.

Critical Commentaries.

Genealogy.

Character Analyses.

Critical Essays.

Review Questions and Essay Topics.

Selected Bibliography.

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