Racism In Toni Morrison's Song Of Solomon

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Could you imagine two people with extremely dissimilar opinions on how to solve a problem being best friends? Macon "Milkman" Dead III and Guitar Bains of Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon had the same priorities in life, but as they grew older, they became very different people. What truly sets them apart from each other are their clashing views on how to deal with racism. Morrison demonstrates this rift between them by comparing Milkman to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Guitar to Malcolm X.
Milkman and Guitar once shared similar interests, but as they age, all they have in common is their love for each other. While in school, they often skipped class to hang out together, and later discovered their appreciation for partying, drinking,
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Both men grew up in poverty: we see in the beginning of the book Guitar's grandma trying to get an extension on her rent from Milkman's father, and Malcolm X's family didn't have money either. After Malcolm X's father died, his life insurance ruled his death a suicide and did not give his family the insurance money. On the other hand, Malcolm X's mother was convinced that her husband had been killed by white people. Guitar's father's death is analogous to her version of the story. He was sliced in half in a sawmill owned by a white man, an incident for which it isn't clear who is to blame, and the owner only gave Guitar's family 40 dollars. Growing up, Guitar becomes involved in politics and joins the Seven Days, a vigilante justice group that kills whites in retaliation for the murders of black people. Malcolm X once said, "We are nonviolent with people who are nonviolent with us." The unspoken reverse side of this statement is Guitar's philosophy, as he is violent with people who are violent with them. Malcolm X believed that all white people are the devil, and so does Guitar, who says that "There are no innocent white people, because every one of them is a potential n****r-killer, if not an actual one" (115). Both of them are convinced that the only way blacks can achieve equal status with whites is by retaliation; matching their actions and defending themselves from the actions of whites "by any means necessary." Through …show more content…
Martin Luther King Jr. is subtler. Both men grew up in wealthy families and were named after their fathers. They also each have, unlike Guitar and Malcolm X, a family with two parents and siblings who stay together throughout their entire childhoods. However, Milkman is very naive and oblivious to what's happening around him until he is well into adulthood, while Dr. King became involved in racial politics at a young age. Dr. King believed in the law and the government, and that the best way to achieve equality for the black people was by using nonviolent tactics to protest the government's wrongdoings, and getting those laws changed. He disapproved of Malcolm X's confrontational philosophy. Similarly, Milkman does not approve of Guitar's actions as one of the Seven Days. When he first heard about the them killing innocent whites, Milkman asks, "Why don't you just hunt down the ones who did the killing? Why kill innocent people? Why not just those who did it? [...] If they are as bad, as unnatural, as you say, why do you want to be like them? Don't you want to be better than they are? I can't see how it helps anybody" (155, 157). Dr. King did not believe that violence helped anyone, as it angered the white people and made the black people look no better. He once said that "Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that." When Pilate dies at

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