The Irrelevance Of Death In Song Of Solomon By Toni Morrison

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Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison explores the toxic relationship within a family living on “Not Doctor Street” in Michigan during the early 1950’s and 60’s prior to the Civil Rights Act and end the of segregation. Even though they were no longer slaves, they were treated as if they were not a meaningful part of society. Blacks worked in low paying jobs and lived in all- black neighborhoods. Throughout the novel, there is a theme of the irrelevance of black lives. The very name “Dead” was given to the first Macon Dead (Milkman’s grandfather). Toni Morrison uses the names of the characters to illustrate how unimportant blacks are perceived to be. For example, the last name “Dead” came about from a drunk Union officer who misinterpreted Milkman’s …show more content…
For many close or loving families, death is a fundamental part of life. Death is mourned and taken into consideration because the person one loves could be alive and well one second or dead and gone forever, the next. The Dead family, however, wish death upon the lives of others and do not mourn. This family is not emotionally connected or loving to one another. This is due to the past with slavery, as many families were separated and several people were abused or killed on a daily basis for the smallest of things. Death was so common that it was the norm. This is where the connection between life and death was not looked into the way it is looked into among normal relationships. As Dehn Kubitschek says in a critical comparison of Toni Morrison “slavery also prevents the Africans from developing tenable American identities”. This mistreatment of blacks continued after slavery was abolished. An example of this is the killing of Macon’s father over the land he owned as a free man. Reverend Cooper explains to Milkman how his grandfather’s land was taken away: “They had a mighty fine place… Some white folks own it now... That’s why they shot him” (Morrison 230). Another example would be the young black northerner who visited Mississippi and was “stomped to death… [for] whistling at some white woman” (Morrison …show more content…
Black lives did not matter. This ties in with the events occurring in today’s society such as the “Black Lives Matter” movement. It is reported blacks experience acts of violence towards them and several other injustices. African Americans have the leading incarceration rate. This is due to racial profiling as seen in the novel when Milkman and Guitar were pulled over by the police officers after stealing the green bag of “gold” from Pilate’s house. Milkman’s father believes the two men would have not been pulled over had it not been for Guitar being in the car with Milkman. He believes this because Guitar is from the South Side or Blood Bank as they called it, which is the more rough area of Detroit. Statistics show that every twenty eight hours an African American, man, female, or child, is murdered by law enforcement. Statistics also show that black women have 6 times the incarceration rate as white women and sixty percent of African American girls are sexually assaulted before the age of eighteen. The Song of Solomon shows the capacity of people to be cruel and devalue the lives of others. Morrison does not plainly let the reader know what the book is about, but instead “Morrison allows the reader to figure out the meaning for themselves” (Huffer). The author reveals how the history of slavery and the intolerance some white people had even after slavery

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