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Essay on Control in Song of Solomon

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Fight for Control in Song of Solomon

 
  The idea of complete independence and indifference to the surrounding world, symbolized by flying, stands as a prominent concept throughout Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon. However, the main character Milkman feels that this freedom lies beyond his reach; he cannot escape the demands of his family and feel fulfilled at the same time. As Milkman's best friend Guitar says through the novel, "Everybody wants a black man's life," a statement Milkman easily relates to while seeking escape from his sheltered life at home. Although none of the characters in the story successfully take control of Milkman's life and future, many make aggressive attempts to do so including his best friend Guitar who, ironically, sympathizes with Milkman's situation, his frustrated cousin Hagar, and most markedly his father, Macon Dead.

 

Guitar Bains, Milkman's best friend since childhood, serves as Milkman's only outlet to life outside his secluded and reserved family. Guitar introduces Milkman to Pilate, Reba, and Hagar, as well as to normal townspeople such as those that meet in the barber shop, and the weekend party-goers Milkman and Guitar fraternize with regularly. However, despite their close friendship, the opportunity to gain a large amount of gold severs all their friendly ties. Guitar, suspecting Milkman took all the gold for himself, allows his greed and anger to dictate his actions and sets out on a manhunt, ready to take Milkman down wherever and whenever he could in order to retrieve the hoarded riches. Guitar's first few sniper attempts to execute Milkman did fail; however, the ending of the novel leaves the reader with the imminent death of either Milkman or Guitar. Ironic that t...


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... lives of the Dead family members; Milkman, unable to live any longer in an environment composed of animosity, drives him to leave his home and search for "his people." Serendipitously, although no single individual gains control of either Milkman's living or dead life, Milkman's need to escape from his collective family and surroundings unwittingly captures him and the life he so fervently aims to keep from the control of others.

 

Works Cited:

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Penguin Books, 1987.

Schultz, Elizabeth. "African and Afro-American Roots in Contemporary Afro-American Literature: The Difficult Search for Family Origins." Studies in American Fiction 8.2 (1980): 126-145.

Story, Ralph. "An Excursion into the Black World: The 'Seven Days' in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon." Black American Literature Forum 23.1 (1989): 149-158.


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