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“Song of Solomon” by Toni Morrison

Song of Solomon is a novel written by Toni Morrison in 1977 and belongs to African American literature. Although this text is one of the writer’s first works, the book brought Morrison great fame. The story of a young African American Macon Dead has raised many questions about black people’s position in society, which treats them with negativity and a tremendous amount of prejudice. Besides, the author weaves into the description of everyday life elements of Native Americans and even Islam. All of this is done by Morrison with one purpose – to describe the search for African American identity in US society. This essay aims to analyze the novel’s central conflict, the author’s questions, and search for answers to them in the text of the work itself.

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To understand the book’s context, it should be noted that the author herself is also African American. Consequently, for Morrison, the Song of Solomon has a special meaning, as it allows through literature to reveal the conflicts through which the representatives of her people have to go. It is also necessary to consider the historical context of the release of this novel, namely 1977. This time for America was associated with a lot of racism and conflict towards African Americans. Thus, the book faced many problems and prohibitions, especially after 1993, when Morrison won the Nobel Prize for Literature. Nevertheless, despite all the limitations, the author diligently tried to convey the realities of a black person’s life in a white society to the general public. Besides, personal self-identification and the search for answers to questions about one’s existence are added to the racial conflict.

This topic is the main one for many works; however, in Morrison’s, it is directly related to the racial dilemma of a person who lives in an aggressively opposed society. The events described take place between the 1930s and 1960s, adding even more detail to the picture of racial inequality (Morrison). Elements of confrontation between black and white are found throughout the text. Still, they most clearly expressed the organization The Seven Days, purposefully taking revenge on white people to retaliate for racial humiliation. A member of this organization appears at the beginning of the novel, symbolically marking Macon’s birth with his flight attempt and death. The second significant character is Guitar, the main antagonist, opposing Macon in everything and being its opposite. Guitar is motivated to resist white oppression actively, while the main character is indifferent to this struggle. His only goal in the early stages of life is to separate from his own family, from his dominant mother.

Throughout the book, Macon goes through the path of development and rejection of egoism, symbolically shown in the last episode of the protagonist’s “flight.” At the beginning of his journey, he is indifferent to almost everything, from his own family to the community where he lives. His only goal is to find family treasures with which the character can hope to gain independence. However, in the process of searching and receiving more and more information about the family heritage, the hero begins to wonder who he is. In this journey, a critical turning point is the “Song of Solomon” heard from local children. This seemingly insignificant event makes Macon start piecing together the family history. As a result, this leads the protagonist to realize his heritage and discover real freedom.

Thus, in his work, Morrison raises several vital topics related to African American culture. The author describes in detail the life of black people in the middle of the 20th century and the difficulties they had to face. In every possible way, aggressively minded society hindered the full self-realization of black people and the preservation of heritage. However, using Macon’s example, Morrison shows that true freedom and self-awareness can be achieved even in such conditions, no matter how hard the environmental pressure is.

Work Cited

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. Random House, 2014.

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