Born in 1931, Toni Morrison has seen much change in this country. After years of working as an editor, Toni Morrison published her first book in 1970 entitled The Bluest Eye. In 1993, Morrison won the Nobel Prize in Literature. She was the first African American to win this prize. Her literary writing transcended all barriers making her one of the best authors in our times.
You can find out more about Toni Morrison here.
The Bluest Eye
Song of Solomon
Playing in the Dark
A Dancing Mind
God Help the Child
Where are they now?:
After many endeavors, including working as a professor, Morrison continues to speak out against various injustices in our society and continuously making appearances. She is one of the speakers for this year’s New York Festival in October.
Rating: 4 Stars
Title: The Song of Solomon
Author: Toni Morrison
I have been a huge fan of Toni Morrison since first reading her work in Graduate school. All of her work holds deeper meanings within the line. Looking at the characters you begin to understand their various plights, no matter what it may be, no matter what your background is. The reader will always leave with a deeper understanding of, in the case of many of her books, the black community in the past and currently.
What truly stood out to me about Song of Solomon was that this was not so much of a story about the oppression of blacks from the outer world, but what occurs within their own communities between them. Of course, many of the thoughts and negative feelings can often be traced back to the poor self image many blacks held because of their plights and what they were told by mainstream society. The Song of Solomon highlights the various aspects in the black community. We see the struggle of their women, men, and the jealousy that can run rampant for either money and or lighter skin.
The story follows Macon Dead, taken place before the Civil Rights Movement. A young man brought up in a wealthy black community. His mother came from prestige and his father built his wealth from the land he continuously bought and rented. People both feared and hated his father. Not living in the poor part of the neighborhood, people often made fun of Macon and his two sisters. This was the first showing of jealousy within the black community. It was, and sometimes now, still hard for those who have less to hold negative feelings towards those who have “made it”. In a world that told them they were no good, it often left them wondering why weren’t they worthy of prestige and wealth.
On the outside they may have had it made, but Macon was raised in a house lacking love and affection. This led him to continuously visit with his Aunt, Pilate, in the poorer part of town, the part he was forbidden to visit. Here he found love and affection with Pilate, her daughter, Ruth, and her granddaughter, Hagar. These three women, along with Macon’s mother and sisters, highlighted the struggles of the black women. Macon’s sisters, light skin and beautiful, believed their beauty would save them. As light skin women they were to be the most desirable, but they found that like so many other issues, in the black community they were unable to achieve anything because they were black women. They either did not marry, which left them open to ridicule, or if they did marry they were subjected to serving the men in their lives. With not much in the way of careers, they found themselves stuck in situations with little solutions.
Macon took advantage of his status and often remained ignorant of the occurrences in the black community. He saw himself as untouchable. While his father and Pilate often tried to tell him about the history of his people, Macon chose to ignore it. It is not until he has to take a trip for his father that he begins to uncover the secrets of his family. It is at the end of this trip and the completion of the quest that Macon’s life comes to an end. Throughout the books entirety there are a number attempts on Macon’s life, but he continuously is able to thwart their plans. I think what is very interesting is that his death is not successful until he goes back to his family roots and connects with where his family originated.
I think what everyone can take from this story is know where you come from. Macon continuously tried to ignore his family’s history and what they went through and their struggles. This only left him out of tune with his family and continuously searching for what he was missing. It was not until he got in touch with his history that he truly seemed happy and elated with his life and himself. I think that everyone should be in touch with their history. It is always easier to appreciate what you have if you know where it all came from and all started.