Timmy Ma


11th Honors Lit and Comp

5 May 2016

Song of Solomon Vocabulary List

1. Entrails (noun) – internal organs collectively. “Entrails the butcher might be giving
away” (Morrison 4).

2. Bereft (adj.) - deprived of or lacking something, especially a nonmaterial asset. “To have
to live without that single gift saddened him and left his imagination so bereft that he
appeared dull even to the women who did not hate his mother” (Morrison 9)

3. Suffuse (verb) - Gradually spread through or over. “The quiet that suffused the doctor’s
house then, broken only by the murmur of the women eating sunshine cake, was only
that: quiet” (Morrison 10)

4. Guileless (adj.) - Devoid of guile; innocent and without deception. “So Ruth rose up and
out of her guileless inefficiency to claim her bit of balm right after the preparation of
dinner and just before the return of her husband from his office” (Morrison 13).

5. Unkempt (adj.) - (especially of a person) having an untidy or disheveled appearance.
“Now she was odd, murky, and worst of all, unkempt” (Morrison 20).

6. Sabbatical (noun) - A period of paid leave granted to a college teacher for study or travel,
traditionally every seventh year. “Is he on sabbatical too?” (Morrison 58).

7. Sacrament (noun) - A religious ceremony or act of the Christian Church that is regarded
as an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual divine grace, in particular. ““Well,
the sacraments of the Church are reserved for—” Just then old Mrs. Djvorak interrupted
him” (Morrison 65).

Foreshadowing. Song of Solomon Literary Device List 1. 4. taking away her breath with their soft jagged lips” (Morrison 105).“They were smothering her. 6. . Allusion (name Hagar) – “Her powerful contralto. 2. 3. who must be about ten or eleven now. Symbol (artificial roses) – “His sisters made roses in the afternoon.“Song of Solomon” (Morrison title). and strung the entire contraption through her left earlobe” (Morrison 19). pulled him like a carpet tack under the influence of a magnet” (Morrison 29). folded it up into a tiny knot and put it in a little brass box. Hagar. until the baby girl turned twelve and took it out. and the soft voice of the girl. lifeless roses that lay in peck baskets for months until the specialty buyer at Gerhardt’s sent Freddie the janitor over to tell the girls that they could use another gross” (Morrison 10). Allusion (Song of Songs) . 5. It was as though she were a cauldron issuing spinning gold” (Morrison 13). Personification. Symbol (gold) – “She had the distinct impression that his lips were pulling from her a thread of light.“O Sugarman done fly away / Sugarman done gone / Sugarman cut across the sky / Sugarman gone home…. Reba’s piercing soprano in counterpoint.” (Morrison 6). Symbol (the earring) – “And it did stay there. 7. Bright.

both spiritually and emotionally. Song of Solomon. and how it distinguishes him from other children his age. who is strong-willed. When he was called Macon Dead III he was emotionally “Dead”. Pilate is a powerful character. Hagar. She selflessly devotes herself to others. Throughout her life. Pilate is the only strong woman in the novel and does not need a man to be complete like the other women. never looking ahead “almost as though there were no future to be had"(Morrison 35). When Reba’s man had hit her. A one-sentence description of her marriage illustrates this repression: “[She] began her days stunned into stillness by her husband’s contempt and ended them wholly animated by it” (Morrison 11). Milkman is a person who has little to no emotions. She never develops into a strongly independent person. forcing him to promise that “he …won’t never…put a hand on her” (Morrison 95). Such negative attention is better than no attention at . to him she was just a tool to be used when needed. his aunt Pilate Dead and his mother Ruth Foster Dead. Although the narrator rarely focuses on Pilate’s feelings and thoughts. Ruth is a subdued. including Reba. all she needs is for her family to be happy. he couldn’t take his responsibilities to become an adult. frail. He was stuck in the past. Throughout the book so far. and Ruth. Then when he was called the name Milkman it poked at his inability to be on his own. upper-class woman. Milkman is a central character in the novel and his multiple names represent different aspects of his character. her presence is felt everywhere in the novel. For example his relationship with Hagar demonstrated that he didn’t care about her. Pilate can be one of the protagonists of Song of Solomon because she is the novel’s moral guide. are Milkman Dead. she stifles her self-expression and relies on men for a sense of worth. Toulmin #1 Characters The three main characters in the novel. he does not care about others. This quote points out his focus on the past. Pilate took a knife and almost killed him. Unlike Pilate. Milkman’s mother.

all. For these reasons alone. . these three characters should be considered among the most important in the novel. Ruth represents the unliberated woman whose own goals are dictated by a sexist society. her husband’s coldness gives Ruth a sadly distorted sense of purpose and self-worth.

and historically apt identity that is rooted in a narrative that provides . Morrison uses the velvet roses as a symbol to call attention to the uninteresting and melancholy lives of the Dead sisters who craft the roses in order to stay positive about the fact that they are forced to live a restricting lifestyle. Pilate’s life is lived in defiance of traditional definitions of womanhood. This pervasive but superficial connection demonstrates that a person’s name is but one element in the definition of his or her identity. Recognizing her name’s significance. It grew along with the pestering life she is trapped in. Lena and Corinthians create artificial flowers to cope with their inferior status in society. anytime when “she unfolded the white linen […] she would look once more at the large water mark” (Morrison 11). This quest for a personally. of how alive the house was before Macon Jr. Pilate “folded it up into a tiny knot and put it in a little brass box. culturally. moved in. Song of Solomon. Her birth from a dead mother and her maturation without a navel reinforces her metaphysical and psychological independence. and she relies heavily on these symbols to express inner-meaning. she gave up on the joys of life and became oblivious to happiness. thus. In this way the name remains attached to her person only by a thin band of gold. It was a permanent reminder to Ruth of the past. Another symbol in the novel is the watermark which is symbolic of the darkness and death that eats away at the Dead household. thus she incorporates them often to remind the readers of their significance. the “bright. When Ruth’s spirit was crushed by Macon Jr. Toulmin #2 Symbols Some of Morrison’s main symbols are simple objects.. Throughout the novel. The watermark is reminiscent of an unpleasant event that she will never get rid of. and strung the entire contraption through her left earlobe” (Morrison 19). lifeless roses” symbolize their false appearance of satisfaction due to their social class and family situation (Morrison 10). Pilate’s earring is a symbol of significance of her identity.

It takes a good author to explain the elements of his or her work. the watermark and the earrings. but it takes a great author to write abstractly and leave the reader thinking about what it all meant.context and meaning is central to Song of Solomon and is the primary quest of Pilate’s nephew. Milkman. Through aspects of important objects such as the artificial roses. Undoubtedly Morrison has mastered the ability to effectively use symbols in her writing. . she has found a way to insert symbolic meaning into even the smallest amount of words.

Pilate lacks a documented. expressing herself through song and through wise. This tangible reminder of personal history gives her strength. First. Morrison uses writing to explore the relationship between women and voice. both literally and figuratively because she has a strong personal identity separate from the numbing pressures of both men and society in general. Pilate’s song is her own. song is a rich and vital theme in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. allowing the main characters’ significance to stand out as they . direct speech. She can sing. one woman maintains hers all along. she always wears her name “in a little brass box. As a result. to guide the characters in the novel. the silenced voice often seeks self-destructive or otherwise hurtful forms of expression. The act of flying reveals the disposition and motives of the characters. so. societally recognized history. Toulmin #3 Themes As the title of the book suggests. Morrison believes flight is the ultimate liberation and conveys so in her role of Pilate. It is the ability to escape life’s issues and crises. Like most African-Americans of her era. and strung the entire contraption through her left earlobe” (Morrison 19). Pilate keeps her own literal and figurative voice for two reasons. Flight is an important theme in the novel as a means of escape. The power of flight ties a post slavery culture together with the obsession of the old culture. Most of the women in her novel have smothered their own identities. Pilate is set apart from the other women in the novel because she maintains a distinctive identity all along. she has a sense of personal identity that does not depend on men or society for validation. Most importantly. Though some women are able to regain their voices as the novel progresses. by depending on men for a sense of self. she is completely free from the confinements of society. their voices. Milkman describes Pilate as the only character who can fly without having to lift her feet off the ground. only allowing the truly blissful to have the gift. she chronicles her own instead. a powerful woman who flies.

For example. and we are given access to the black community. People witness America’s inability to see beyond race. systematically. People are exposed to a society divided along racial lines. even Lena realized that “there are no colored people who can afford to have two houses" (Morrison 33).develop throughout the story while revolving around African American folk lore. and economically perpetuated. Readers see a troubled universe in Song of Solomon. In addition to the idea of songs and flight. and how racism is both socially. watching the effects of slavery and racism over four generations of American history. . touching and affecting every character’s life in significant ways. Morrison also presents the idea of race. where racism and inequality run rampant.