Song of Solomon - Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s novel Song of Solomon deals with the African-American world of the early 1960’s. Milkman Dead is the first black baby to be born in Mercy Hospital. Pampered by the women in his family and his father, a slum landlord who thinks only of his wealth, he leaves home at 32 to find a buried treasure believed to belong to his grandfather. Instead, he finds himself immersed in a quest for self-discovery as he uncovers the secrets of his family history.

The story touches on several themes, the central one being racism and how it’s damage can continue to affect generations to come. The inequality existing between men and women is also a major theme. Wild and unusual behaviour in men is considered almost heroic while the same behaviour in women is seen as weak and abnormal.

The characters are well portrayed although I found Guitar too alienated from reality to be likeable—perhaps to present racism as being denatured no matter what side it sits on. I found the ending a little too quick and perhaps unfair, but that also could have something to do with the gratuitous violence associated with the main theme.