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Next Step, and then Chapters 5-9
Now is the time to respond to one of your classmates' blogs. Try to respond to someone who has not yet received a response. This is due by July 9 at midnight. Do not just agree with your classmate. Feel free to argue, or to expand upon their thoughts.
If you haven't done so yet, please read the very brief version of "The People Could Fly" on the link provided. The story begins with an image of flight, and this motif remains an important thread throughout the story. Keep track of the times this comes up as you read. Comment on it now if you like. Choose an element from the Foster book and address it in your comments. It may be the significance of Milkman's limp, or Hagar's mental instability, or it may be the biblical references, or evidence of intertextuality. Then discuss how you can tell (because I know you can tell) that this is going to be a quest story. What elements can you already identify?
Also, let me say that your blog posts are insightful and interesting. I have enjoyed reading them all. I will also note that not everyone has posted and/or commented.The deadlines are firm. Computer problems are no excuse. If you know you are going to be away from a computer the day of a deadline, do your work before. Before blogging about the next four chapters, please read the very brief links to the left about Emmett Till and the Birmingham Church Bombings which killed four little girls in 1963. It will give you insight into the Civil Rights Movement, the setting of this novel, and the political standpoint from which Morrison writes. Chapters 5-9 reveal much information from several different points of view. The plot, as they say, thickens. Everyone is in agreement that this is the story of Milkman's quest. For what is he searching? What does he learn from his mother, Pilate, and his father? What's in that green sack? Why in the world is Milkman's leg growing? Blog posts due by midnight July 15. Responses due by midnight July 19.
Be thorough, thoughtful, and truthful. Do not submit any minimalist writing. My comments to you will be in all caps once I post.
Chapters 5-9 blog post due July 15--response to a classmate due July 19.
Chapters 10-15 due July 24--response to a classmate due July 31.
Remember to print out a copy of your blogposts and responses, as well as the response to you by a classmate, to hand in to me on the first day of school along with your other summer reading assignments.
Article posted July 6, 2012 at 10:42 AM •
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Response to Nick B.
I also have done some research on the biblical connection with the name Solomon but I did not connect it in that way, and I am glad you were able to let me become aware of that certain connection. Also, I did like the depth that was brought with First Corinthians and Magdalene. It was nice to get some feed back from other characters on Milkman's actions.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 10:41 PM by
I know this has nothing to do with the response either, but I have to agree with your liking on this book. It’s sculpted so well.
I also noticed all of the symbolism in this section, I normally do if you can’t tell. I thought it was very significant when Pilate called her “husband” Mr. Solomon and I was trying to think of what it could mean. Your response to that part brought light and clarity to my ideas which really helped. I’m curious to see what Milkman will do now that his eyes are opened fully.
I could have written that last note myself. Morrison’s writing style is amazing and full of meaning.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM by
(chapters 5 through 9)
I agree with you that chapters 5 through 9 definitely go into more depth within Milkman’s quest. I enjoyed seeing how you made a prediction that he is in search for his parent’s mysterious past. The setting that the book is in seems to be big on “it’s a small world.” I am curious how Milkman focuses more on his mother’s side of the story than his father’s story. A lot of the troubles seems to come from Pilate’s part of life. I don’t understand why her mischief was so focused on. Milkman kind of impressed me when I looked back at the beginning of the book ad realized also how much he has matured during his quest. There is a big difference trying to reach the end of a quest when you are immature and mature. Being mature helps you out.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 10:06 PM by
I think that the love story between Corinthians and Porter was, partially at least, to put the final nail in Milkman's coffin. His telling Macon of the romance is what triggered the speech with Magdalene that you agree with so wholeheartedly.
I also agree with Magdalene's speech, but I think that it is just further reason for Milkman to leave. If Corinthian's romance is indeed the last nail in Milkman's coffin, as I said, then Magdalene's speech is his chance for rebirth. He finally realizes how reliant he is on other people, but if he does not use this information to better himself, what use would it be? If he stayed around the same people, then he would continue what he had been doing for his whole life. So he almost needs to leave, in order to get the reality check he needs so badly.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 09:04 PM by
Your analysis has clarified something for me--perhaps while Milkman may not represent Solomon, he could represent a biblical character with Pilate representing her namesake. A lot of novels use biblical elements to foreshadow, symbolize, or further develop the plot. I feel that Milkman is young and selfish, so thus he will be looking out for himself. After all, he wasn't born into a happy, conventional family despite their wealth. I suspect Milkman will have a growth of character within the next section to better himself. While it's hard to like Macon Dead II, somehow, I don't blame him for the treatment of Ruth.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 07:13 PM by
To Nicole T
I did not notice the color blue as a theme at all and I am so glad I read your response because now, as I continue reading, the color shows up and I notice the deeper meaning. However, I was confused as to why Morrison added in the bit with Corinthians. Now that you mention that she came to be her own person it makes a little more sense.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 06:19 PM by
I agree with your predictions about Pilate. When Milkman and Guitar went to steal Pilate's gold, got caught, and were taken in by the police, Pilate claimed to not know who Milkman and his father were; I figured she was trying to save Milkman. If so, do you think Guitar represents the Devil, Judas, or simply the society who disliked Jesus? But then again, Guitar is the seventh day, Sunday, in the Seven Days, which is considered the holiest day. What does this mean for Guitar's character? Maybe there is still hope he will change himself, see the wrong of his decisions.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 03:57 PM by
I knew that the name Solomon would hold some biblical allusion and symbolism, however I never took the time to look it up. You connected so many points in your response to Milkman's connection to Solomon alone. And I as well am glad that Milkman's sisters have finally been more involved with the plot of the novel. In the beginning they were pushed to the sidelines and I did not think they were going to be so significant until this section.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 03:40 PM by
I personally disagree with you on the fact that Hager has completely lost it to a certain point. I believe she has not mentally insane, just she is in love with someone and will do anything to avoid loosing Milkman. I see the conversation with Hager and Milkman’s mother as a perfect example of this. Just like a mother loves and will protect her child no matter what, Hager will love and see to it that she will have Milkman no matter what. Even if he is dead.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 01:53 PM by
I really liked the connection you made with the Milkman and his leg. The fact that his leg grew and you pointed out the experience that came with it is really good. Also the fact according Guitar being afraid of Milkman, I think it is because he is starting to see Milkman as an equal, or even more than that.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 01:46 PM by
I like that you saw the peacock incident as defining Guitar and Milkman as being opposites. I saw it more as both being greedy, and it was interesting to look at it your way. I think Lena's lecture to Milkman will cause him to grow more cinsiderate of the people around him now that someone has shown him his ways.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 10:10 AM by
I agree that the Deads do everything for the sake of benefitting themselves, but I'd even take that statement as far as to say that everyone on the novel with the exception of Pilate does that. I agree that she is the only one in her right mind, but a right mind has a different meaning in the novel than in reality. In the tough times of this novel, the tension often leads to heartache and tragedy. The mind is lost and the body takes over. To your comparison to Pilate and Pontius Pilate, I see your point, but I feel that Pilate is a far stronger and more willing person than Pontius Pilate. Pilate genuinely wants to help, but Pontius Pilate just didn't want Jesus's blood on his hands.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 08:54 AM by
While I agree with you that most of the Dead family is selfish and only after their own gain, I do not believe it is only restricted to that family. Guitar, for example, is very close-minded and refuses to see the world from another person's perspective.
Also, in my opinion, Milkman is showing signs of slow but definite character development. While originally he was much more selfish and arrogant, much of that aspect of his personality is beginning to dwindle. I suspect that over the rest of the book, he will change even more, as he finally steps out of his father's shadow.
Comment Posted on July 19, 2012 at 08:03 AM by
I completely agree. As the plot continues to unfold, the level of intensity continues to rises. It doesn't take genius to realize that Hagar is nuts. I mean who would want to try and kill someone their madly in love with (or should I say insanely in love with). Their relationship seems to act as a symbol of much males were completely dominant during this time. As far as the setting of the novel i think that as Milkman continues to change just as the setting does. And the settting are connected just as the characters are one way or another. Reading about the racial cruelty towards blacks makes me realize how far we have come in society.
Comment Posted on July 18, 2012 at 10:23 PM by
I also saw Pilate as having supernatural powers. The night Milkman was arrested, he claimed that Pilate shrunk in height the night she entered the police station. Then, outside in the car he noticed that she seemed to be back to her normal height. This proves that Pilate is different from others in her surroundings. I also see Milkman's deformity as a way to prove he is special and a hero in this story. As Foster pointed out, heroes will have a specific attribute that makes them different from the others in the novel.
Comment Posted on July 18, 2012 at 08:11 PM by
Samantha, you have an abundance of questions with your response. I had the same confusion with the interjections, but had some help with a second look at this novel. This is a matter of my own opinion, but I think Corinthians relationship was just the opening of a can of worms into the plot (a necessary rising action, if you will), leading into the fight between Magdalene (called Lena) and Milkman, since Milkman ratted Corinthians out. Magdalene obviously has that bond sisters typically have once they're past their fighting stage, and Morrison was wise to include it. I also believe Corinthians lengthy spotlight in this novel also had something too do with the fact that Morrison cannot tell a short story. All her flashbacks and side stories seem to be set up that way. But I like how you brought up the connection between the title and Pilate's explanation in the car. I found that touching also.
Comment Posted on July 17, 2012 at 09:43 PM by
The mental abnormality is key in this story because it is what is used as a base for prejudice. Just like society persecuted Pilate for her having an abnormality, and overall unique presence, others are so criticized through the perception of others. Most of the characters in the story have come under this scrutiny, so far, except for Milkman, until the end of the section. Being segregated against is what might push Milkman to obtain the goal of his quest. The Seven Days also interested me; it alludes to the seven days that it took God to make the earth, where as here they are destroying life. It was crucial for the author to include the different view points because we, as readers, need to have better formed ideas about the characters as a whole and as individuals, rather than just them as percieved by others. The part with Porter and Corinthians did seem a bit out of place, nonetheless it was significant. Here we get a look at her personal life as well as her relation to the Seven Days. I also believe the author uses sex, to signify a time of thriving, through out the book. Juxtaposition is used to compare the sex lives of Corinthians and of her mother's lack of one, and therefore representing her mothers stagnant state.
Comment Posted on July 17, 2012 at 01:19 PM by
Hagar has completely lost her mind! I feel like every time her name comes about, there is a problem. I totally agree with you on the plot confusion. I assume Morrison uses this as a technique to touch base with every character. I like the fact that everyone is related in some way. This makes the plot more understanding because it is all coming together. I agree that the racial problem becomes bigger. I am glad I was able to get a good background before I endured the madness.
Comment Posted on July 16, 2012 at 01:05 PM by
Chapters 5 through 9
Not only being the fact that these specific chapters are considered the middle of the book or the plot, but things start to become intense: striking someone with a butcher knife in their collar bone. I feel like it is very obviously to everyone that Hagar’s mind is completely lost. I would never even have thoughts about stabbing someone in my life. I somewhat dislike how the book changes from one little setting to another. It goes from Milkman, Hagar, and Guitar to Ruth, Pilate, and Reba. But I am also amazed at how Morison made the settings seem to switch but that he connected them all within each other. It’s a small world in this novel because everyone seems to be related to one another. The racial aggression becomes a bigger problem in this section of the book. I personally cannot get over how the white people treated blacks in this time period, only because of the color of their skin.
Comment Posted on July 15, 2012 at 10:42 PM by
These next few chapters of Song of Solomon went by pretty quickly or me. I have noticed a trend as I read, though. Many of the Dead family members seem to be out for their own self-fulfillment. Macon Dead II is a greedy soul, looking for nothing more than money and will even ruin his son’s reputation to get it. Milkman does not even care what happens to other people, just so he can be as opposite too his father as he can (he realizes even slapping Macon II in Ruth’s defense was more for himself than anyone), Corinthians goes to bed with a murderer from the slums, which is against her fathers wishes, and of course Hagar is the crazy ex girlfriend out too kill Milkman. Ruth even shares similar feelings with Hagar (minus the blood-lust for Milkman, of course). Pilate seems too be the only one halfway sane, and she crossed several states with her baby, Reba. Pilate also seems to be related to the story of
Pontius Pilate, which I took time too read up on. She tries too save Milkman, the way Pilate tried too save Jesus, but Pontius Pilate was unsuccessful. Will Pilate Dead end up the same way? Is she saving Milkman? I also see a relation between her and the story of the flying Africans, which, according to How to Read Literature Like a Professor, is what this book is based on. She reminds me of Toby. Maybe she is like the always-teaching Toby and will save Milkman? Both of these hypotheses are similar, but with an unclear ending, so I am excited to read on.
Comment Posted on July 15, 2012 at 09:35 PM by
Milkman is searching for his inheritence which is Pilate's gold. Milkman discovers the origin of his name when learns that up until he was a well passed a young child he was still being breast feed by his mother until somenone caught him and he became known as milkman. As Milkman is about to go out and find himself his father informs him about the green bag hanging from Pilate's ceiling whis si supposedly solid gold and convinces Milkman to steal it. Milkman then convinces Guitar to help him steal the bag and Guitar agrees because he needs the money to complete a very trck murder. But the question arises in my head when Milkman reveals his fear of Guitar, Guitar says he also afraid of Milkman. What reason does Guitar has to fear Milkman? When the two complete the task of stealing the green bag they discover that it is just a pile of bones. Milkman's leg grows because his leg symbolizes his knowledge and maturity. As his knowledge of the pass grows and he becomes more of a man whether he finds the gold or not.
Comment Posted on July 15, 2012 at 09:27 PM by
In this section Milkman learns from his mother that Macon Jr. caused Ruth's father's death and worst of all he tried to kill Milkman while he was in the womb. Also Ruth was not naked while she was kissing, not sucking, her father's fingers. Her father was the only one who accepted her for who she is and cared for her, like Milkman later does. She has an abundance of love and devotion for both of them. Milkman is her one triumph. His father reveals to him why Pilate is a snake in his eyes, because he thinks she took the gold and left him which in actuality she stayed with the dead white man and did not steal from him. I came upon elements of magic realism with Pilate's almost inhuman nature, she is like a mythical creature. Her lack of no naval and other people's reaction to it brought me to these thoughts. Her staying in the cave with the white man's body shows her supernatural ways. Her character is still growing on me. She also says she sees her father when everyone knows him to be dead, but she believes some people can live forever if they wanted to do so. I have noticed two themes that I think flow through out: the abandonment of woman and the negative affects of racism. Ruth's father's life was cheated by the hand of her own husband and Hagar is left broken by Milkman. Guitar is a clear view of the destruction of racism. it causes him to uproot from his humanity. Milkman analyzes himself and realizes his leg has grown and at that same moment he realizes he has gone against his conscience, meaning the leg symbolizes his relieving of the strife brought on by himself and by those around him; balancing himself physically and mentally. The character's names are Biblical allusions themselves. The characters are shaped by not only their individual personalities but also by the history of the Biblical name, emphasizing each character's meaning to the story. Language is personal and deeply rooted. After I read "The People Could Fly" I took it as Milkman realizing he has wings when he learns about his family history, which was passed through songs when older generations were illiterate. He does not have to be held down by the burdens his family and others afflict on him. Milkman's quest is to find his identity, his desires, and what he wants to do with his life. I came across more symbols in this section such as the color white, singing, the peacock, and the green bag. The color white is violence and wrongdoing, like the white bull that causes Freddie's mother to die. Singing is a way of healing and spirituality, it is also a guide. The peacock is the spread of evil and greed and the corruption of wealth. The green bag seems to mean something different for each character that deals with it. To Macon Jr. it his his greed and love for money. To Guitar it is his way to fulfill his goals through violence. To Milkman it is his way to escape and to be independent. To Pilate it is her father's bones that she lost.
Comment Posted on July 15, 2012 at 09:10 PM by
In my first response, I mentioned ho much I was enjoying this novel. My delight with it has only increased with this new section. I know that this information is irrelevant to my response itself, but I just felt like I had to iterate the fact that this book is quickly climbing to nearer and nearer to my list of favorite books.
Anyway, I thought that this section was extremely filled with symbolism. Seeing the title referred to Pilate, calling her "husband" Mr. Solomon, I immediately knew something was up. However, I am afraid that I am not quite as up to snuff with my biblical allusions as I should be, and did not know much about Solomon, only that he was a king and the son of David. So I did some research, and it seems that Milkman is actually quite the analogy of his Solomon fellow, not so surprisingly, considering the title of the book. Solomon took the reign of king from his father, much as Milkman does in his own family. And for his many sins, Solomon is punished by the Lord, much like Magdalene's lashing out at Milkman at the end of this section. Though these are sins that Milkman does not even realize he has committed, it is finally revealed to him how much he stepped on his family throughout the course of his life. Now, perhaps the biggest question is what he will do with this information.
Also, on a side note, I enjoyed finally getting to know Milkman's sisters better. In the entire first section they were barely mentioned, but now we get a look into First Corinthians' desires and hopes, as well as her love life. We also got to see Magdalene's emotions towards Milkman and in general, which before were barely displayed, if at all. And it seems as though the first time the reader is really introduced to Milkman's sisters, is the first time he is really introduced to himself.
Comment Posted on July 15, 2012 at 08:55 PM by
Milkman learns from his father, after hitting him to try and defend his mother, that Macon Jr. and Ruth's father had many conflicts. Milkman learns that his father only wanted Ruth's father's money and Ruth all to himself. Milkman also learns that Macon Jr. found Ruth laying naked next to her father on his death bed, sucking his fingers. Milkman also learns from his mother that she was not laying naked next to her father but was kneeling next to the bed and not sucking on his fingers but kissing. Milkman, at this point, has lost his original perception of his mother and father because of this information, and this information also gives him even more of a reason to take his quest to find his own identity. I became aware of a connection between Ruth's father and Milkman through this also. Ruth has utter devotion to her father for he was the only to care and love her truly, Ruth has also strong love and connection with her son, Milkman. Macon Jr. took away her father and tried to take Milkman from her. When I realized this the question, how does Ruth really see Macon Jr. in her life?
Milkman's quest is to find his identity, to make his own decisions and become his own person, he feels as if he is a dumping place for the people that surround him and he wants to escape, this is when it became apparent to me that the green bag played a big part in his quest. I focused mainly on the color of the bag and how the bag is described. The green bag is compared to an Easter egg, Easter is a start of a new beginning. Milkman can find his new beginning, a new life of his own by acquiring the green bag.
Milkman becomes aware that his leg has grown when analyzing himself in the mirror he was not just looking at the physical appearance of himself but he was also analyzing himself spiritually and morally. Milkman is overwhelmed with shame when his conscious becomes apparent to him and he has a change of spirit and feels the wrong he has done. This made it clear to me that when changing his spirit and becoming aware of his morals his leg grows. The too short leg symbolizes the constant burden of all the conflicts people that surround him bare onto Milkman, and when morally analyzing himself thus releasing those burdens it causes the leg to grow.
Comment Posted on July 15, 2012 at 08:14 PM by
Chapters 5-9 go more in depth with Milkman’s quest. I believe he is searching for the truth behind his parent’s mysterious past. Early on, he informs us of his mother’s side of the story. It was surprising to hear that she claims Macon killed her father. Also, Macon’s story was very interesting. The story regarding the death of the white man and the gold was a twist in the plot. When Pilate revealed her past, I was not very shocked. I assumed something went on with her past to cause so much mischief in the family. The green sack is something Pilate carries with a possession from Lincoln’s Heaven. Later I learned it was a pile of bones. Then, the green sack opened many doors to the plot connecting with the gold. While reading, I assumed Milkman’s leg is growing because he is growing, physically and mentally. Milkman is still in a quest, but not so immaturely. The articles that I read beforehand helped me understand this part of the plot much better.
Comment Posted on July 15, 2012 at 06:18 PM by
In chapters five through nine, I noticed an abundance of anger and, in chapter five especially, mental abnormality. I found the situation between Hagar and Milkman ironic because, as it is explained in chapter five, Macon, a Dead, wanted to kill Milkman before birth and Pilate saved him. Now Hagar, also a Dead, wants Milkman killed as an adult. I also noticed that the relationship between Milkman and Guitar has grown. They have gone from the best of friends who never disagree to two mature adults who playfully argue when they disagree. I liked the point in the story when Guitar's doe story is brought up again when Milkman is following his mother. I caught that refrence as if it were labeled as ironic. I dislike that Milkman is constantly ragging on his family for being abnormal. Because each member of his family has something odd about him or herself, Milkman seems to looks down on them as an embarrassment. I think the Seven Days group has some meaning to it's name because seven is the holy number, one number away from six which is the devils number. I enjoyed how passionate Guitar got about his race when talking to Milkman about Seven Days. I dislike that Milkman feels he has to leave his hometown because he believes everyone is using him in some way. I may understand what he feels, but I do not agree with the decision he made to leave. A question I have is why does the story change point of view at some points? I noticed it when Pilate's life story was explained and again when Macon and Pilate's childhood was described. I do not understand what the point of Corinthians' interjection was. Why was her story with Porter put into the novel? I understand what went on, I understand that she grew up in that moment, but why did it have to be there? It did not surprise me when Milkman described Pilate's changing of character at the police station. I noticed again the many bird references. I enjoyed how the title of the story came back into play when Pilate explained herself to Macon in the car. Solomon is either the dead man's name or her father's name and her father continuously told her to keep singing. Finally, Magdalene was completely and totally right in her speech to Milkman. I completely believe in her speech. Milkman needs to have a reality check.
Comment Posted on July 14, 2012 at 04:45 PM by
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