Racism in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon

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In Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, racism is a prevalent theme that is explored through the lives of various characters. Set during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s, the novel highlights the racial tensions of the time. Many of the characters are descendants of slaves and are struggling to escape their family’s past. However, they end up enslaving themselves, unable to break free from the mental and emotional chains that bind them. The contrast between Pilate’s homemade quilt and Ruth’s expensive clothing highlights the characters’ attitudes towards their culture and race. Macon Dead’s desire for wealth and power, which includes owning people, is a stark reversal of his own family’s past. Milkman and Guitar’s families also fail to escape the captivity of racism. Overall, the novel portrays the destructive impact of racism on individuals and families, and the difficulty of breaking free from its hold.

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Racism is the theme that spread throughout Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon in many different ways. For the matter of fact that the book is taken place in the 1950s and 1960s, it’s the heart of the Civil Right movements, and its racial tension is thick because it’s the center of the Civil Rights Movement. In the “Song of Solomon”, by Toni Morrison, we see that the story move along with the time.

Milkman’s grandfather Solomon had flew away from his life due to slavery. Guitar’s grandfather died because of his white employers. It seem like all the characters in “Song of Solomon” is trying to flee the grip of their own family past as slaves, but the true is that they are enslaving themselves. In chapter 1 we see that “The singing woman… had wrapped herself up in an old quilt instead of a winter coat. Her head cocked to one side, her eyes fixed on Mr.

Robert Smith, she sang in a powerful contralto”, this describes Pilate singing about Sugarman before Robert Smith fly off the roof of the Mercy Hospital, in comparison, Ruth Foster was wearing expensive cloths and Pilate wore the old quilt, which show that Pilate is proud of her culture because it’s an homemade item in African-American households, Pilates is proud to of being an African-American woman, and Ruth is disguising herself with expensive cloth and try to be white upper middle class.

Furthermore, Macon dead talked to Milkman about how he wanted to be free, he wanted to have money, and a lot of it so he can own people, ironically is the complete reversal of his own family past, he became tangled with his own thoughts and trap himself in the position where he is enslaved to his own job. Milkman and Guitar’s families tried to be free and they both failed to escape that captivity.

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Racism in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. (2016, Nov 19). Retrieved from


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