Janice O’Brien Pages 331-332

Lit Seminar Song of Solomon

Theme: Milkman’s confusion trying to figure out what is going on (why he is in the basement, why Pilate knocked him over the head), and ultimately the way in which he treats her death shows his maturity. Literary Feature 1. Irony Quote “Milkman opened his arms wide so he could hold all of her in a warm embrace. ‘Come here, sweetheart,’ he said grinning. She came and broke a wet green bottle over his head.” Effect Milkman is been expecting Pilate to be glad to see him, as she was always before. He has taken her kindness and welcomes for granted. Now that he is finally appreciative of all that she has done for him, she breaks a bottle over his head, knocking him out. This ironic ending to the paragraph creates confusion in Milkman’s mind, even though the reader already knows that Hagar is dead and the reason Pilate is being so mean is because Milkman is responsible for her granddaughter’s death. Katharine Hepburn was a famous movie actress, by alluding to her the author is writing in the context of Katharine Hepburn’s era. Also, Katharine was known for having a gorgeous voice. By saying that witches could sound like her the author is emphasizing the confusion that Milkman feels. The best friend trying to strangle him is a reference to Guitar’s attempt to choke him in the woods, a juxtaposition of the words “friend” and “strangle” furthers the emphasis on Milkman’s confusion. By leading the reader through a train of thought, a series of rhetorical questions, through which Milkman comes to the realization that Hagar is dead, the author shows Milkman’s confusion leading to the answer to his confusion. Repetition of the phrase “left her” emphasizes the guilt Milkman feels for having treated Hagar in the selfish

2. Allusion (to popular culture)

“Witches could sound like Katharine Hepburn and your best friend could try to strangle you.”

3. Rhetorical Question

4. Repetition

“What did Pilate knock him out for? About the theft of her sack of bones?...Where was she? Had she run off? Was she sick or...Hagar was dead.” “He had hurt her, left her, and now she was dead-he was certain of

it. He had left her.” 5. Rhyme “While he had dreamt of flying, Hagar was dying.”

way that he did. He is taking responsibility for her death and accepting it. The words “flying” and “dying” rhyme, which emphasizes the guilt Milkman feels for having treated her so badly. He had been free, completely careless, hence “flying” while she had been suffering because of his indifference, which led to her death.

Questions: Was it necessary for Pilate to knock him out in such a violent manner (breaking a bottle over his head)? Would it have been ineffective for her to simply tell him that Hagar was dead? Is Milkman truly remorseful? He seems to treat her death with indifference. He does go through a period of guilt, but it is extremely short lived. Has he truly grown as a character?