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Morrison – S o S. Wednesday Quiz 1. Who is Winnie Ruth Judd? 2. What doesn’t Guitar like about the way Milkman lives? 3. Where does Ruth go in the middle.

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Presentation on theme: "Morrison – S o S. Wednesday Quiz 1. Who is Winnie Ruth Judd? 2. What doesn’t Guitar like about the way Milkman lives? 3. Where does Ruth go in the middle."— Presentation transcript:

1 Morrison – S o S

2 Wednesday Quiz 1. Who is Winnie Ruth Judd? 2. What doesn’t Guitar like about the way Milkman lives? 3. Where does Ruth go in the middle of the night? 4. Hagar can’t have Milkman’s love, so she settles for his __________. 5. Why was Ruth kissing her father’s hands after he died? 6. What two things do Ruth and Pilate have in common? 7. What’s Pilate’s favorite subject? 8. Describe the secret society Guitar belongs to. --extra credit – Why did Mr. Smith fly himself off of the cupola of the hospital?

3 Friday’s Quiz 1. Why doesn’t Pilate want to take the gold she and Macon find in the cave? 2. What does Milkman see on the roof of the headquarters for Nelson Buick. 3. What is an amanuensis? 4. Why don’t the men want to marry Corinthians and Lena? 5. What covers the walls in Porter’s room? Why? 6. What story does Pilate tell to get the bones back? 7. What is the ethnic heritage of Macon Dead I’s wife? –Xtra credit – what is her name? 8. How and why does Elizabeth Butler die?

4 Song of Solomon’s Reception Book of the Month Club selection in 1977 – the first by a black writer since Richard Wright’s Native Son, in 1940. More than a half a million copies were in print only one year after its publication. It put her on the map for most literary critics.

5 Myth Once all Africans could fly like birds; but owing to their many transgressions, their wings were taken away. There remained, here and there, in the sea islands and out-of- the-way places in the low country, some who had been overlooked, and had retained the power of flight, though they looked like other men. (Hughes and Bontemps 62) (Next Slide – p. 21-23 of casebook)

6 Flying --------

7 Morrison on Flying... Let me give you an example: the flying myth in Song of Solomon. If it means Icarus to some readers, fine; I want to take credit for that. But my meaning is specific: it is about black people who could fly. That was always part of the folklore of my life; flying was one of our gifts. I don't care how silly it may seem. It is everywhere -- people used to talk about it, it's in the spirituals and gospels. Perhaps it was wishful thinking -- escape, death, and all that. But suppose it wasn't. What might it mean? I tried to find out in Song of Solomon. (LeClair 122)

8 Flying ======= From Knowledge Notes Flight: The novel opens with an almost surreal flight sequence that sets the tone of the entire novel: a suicide occasioned by an attempt to fly. The idea of flight as symbolic of death and freedom permeates the rest of the novel. Flight is the hallmark of Milkman's internal and external struggles; it not only represents his childhood desire to be free but the African-American community's magical past as well. Before slavery and domination, blacks lived freely and in harmony with the divine, supernatural rhythms of life - a condition set forth in the myth Morrison appropriates. Milkman is ingrained with a strong desire to connect with himself and the world according to this spiritual past. Unfortunately, Milkman is born amongst a people who have forgotten that they can fly, and he is consequently catapulted into a journey of self-discovery and identification.

9 Flying.... From Spark Notes Flight as a Means of Escape The epigraph to Song of Solomon—“The fathers may soar / And the children may know their names”—is the first reference to one of the novel’s most important themes. While flight can be an escape from constricting circumstances, it also scars those who are left behind. Solomon’s flight allowed him to leave slavery in the Virginia cotton fields, but it also meant abandoning his wife, Ryna, with twenty-one children. While Milkman’s flight from Michigan frees him from the dead environment of Not Doctor Street, his flight is also selfish because it causes Hagar to die of heartbreak. The novel’s epigraph attempts to break the connection between flight and abandonment. Because Pilate, as Milkman notes, is able to fly without ever lifting her feet off the ground, she has mastered flight, managing to be free of subjugation without leaving anyone behind.

10 Sugarman done fly away... O Sugarman don't leave me here Cotton balls to choke me O Sugarman don't leave me here Buckra's arms to yoke me.... Sugarman done fly away Sugarman done gone Sugarman cut across the sky Sugarman gone home.

11 Flying ))))))((((((( Spark Notes, some more Morrison’s extensive use of flying as a literal and not just metaphorical event pushes Song of Solomon toward the genre of magical realism. The novel’s characters accept human flight as natural. For instance, the observers of Robert Smith’s flight encourage him rather than rush to prevent his leap, implying that they do not see his flight as a suicide attempt. Instead, the onlookers behave as though Smith’s flight might be possible. Furthermore, the residents of Shalimar, Virginia, do not think that Solomon’s flight is a myth; they believe that the flight actually occurred. Morrison’s novel belongs to the genre of magical realism because in it human flight is both possible and natural. For the long period of time during which Milkman doubts the possibility of human flight, he remains abnormal in the eyes of his community. Only when he begins to believe in the reality of flight does he cease to feel alienated.

12 Flying >>> From an online review Almost the entire plot is based on Milkman’s quest for flight. The quest has many similarities to the paradise cycle, in that his quest is looking for flight and finally flies on his own at the end of his quest. But, before Milkman could fly, he had to first mature and become independent. This was a long process that started from his birth until just before his flight.

13 Find some references to flight Find places in the novel where Morrison plays with flight/flying. Find images of things that fly. Find places where flight is implied. For example: p. 179 –“Can’t nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” Guitar to Milkman about the peacock. And p. 199, 201 –First Corinthians on the hood of the car. And her “feathery” kisses on Porter’s throat.

14 Morrison and Oral Narratives Morrison wants to claim connection to the oral story tellers of her African past – those pre-literate mythmakers who helped her slave ancestors survive. Some of the conventions of oral transmission are the following: –Reliance on history in the form of common tribal or racial knowledge –Appeal to the ear –Use of similes –Frequent catalogues –Emphasis on the ceremonial aspect of life –Reverence for names Can you find examples of these in Song of Solomon?

15 Song of Solomon and Capitalism Macon Dead II –Self-made man, in terms of the American Dream, rugged individualism (55) –Has stuff, believes in stuff, finds pleasure in stuff –Patriarch of nuclear family –Objectification of people to achieve success (Mrs. Bains, his wife) –Linear concept of time, tries to move forward and abandon the past Pilate –Like, Macon II, self-made, but with a difference (149) –Has nothing, needs nothing, creates comfort with out stuff –Matriarch of nuclear family, but open to others outside –Always responsive to the needs of other, empathetic, leaves them with their subjectivity (150) –Circular concept of time, understands the need to incorporate past/present Macon Dead III –How does he fit in? What happens to him in terms these categories? –How is his flight or “lighting out for the territories” different from Huck Finn’s?

16 Milkman’s Teachers/Lessons 1. Macon Dead 2. Guitar Bains (How are he and Milkman doppelgangers or inverse doubles?) Break out for the territories 3. Fred Garnett 2. Reverend Cooper Baptism 3. Possum Hunt 4. Sweet

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