In Morrison’s Song of Solomon, Ruth Foster Dead bears the first black child in Mercy Hospital, Milkman Dead. He is much loved by his mother and aunt, Pilate. His sisters, Magdalene and Corinthians, care for him in his early days as well. He is also highly adored by his mistress and cousin, Hagar. However, he responds to their kind-heartedness differently. He closely resembles his father by being a merciless, cynical landlord in pursuit of becoming wealthy, Macon Dead II.
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To a good extent, Morrison’s novel is a feminist novel and portrays feminism as defined by Bell Hooks. Traditionally, male strength was made complete by the voice of women. Pilate, for example, shows the tradition inheriting culture. She inherited the bag with her father’s bones, considered to enclose gold. Again, she is born without navel and embodies the tradition of their whole family. Morrison, in some way, depicts women as having a great desire to control their environment. She writes interestingly, about Milkman as well as Pilate, his aunt.
The wife and daughter of Macon Dead live unhappy, choked lives. They are fated to a live of womanhood without passion. Ruth is very close to her father narrowly and she nurses her son for long enough to be in kindergarten. This may be attributed to the desire for some physical contact from her husband. She is also a symbol of terror since women who are such symbols are the wealth of their husbands.
Solomon, Milkman’s ancestor, abandons his wife Ryna. At this time, Rynas’ suffering is considered as irrational, he is regarded as a hero for escaping slavery. The town emphasizes on Solomon’s triumph over Ryna’s misery though she was left behind with 21 children. The residents of Shalimar named the picturesque mountain after Solomon, while they have given Ryna’s name to a frightening gulch. This by great extent shows the great responsibility women carry. Women take care of the community and their families, while men’s responsibility is upon themselves only.
Pilate is portrayed as the spiritual mother to Milkman and she also gives him protection from his enraged father. She is introduced in a flattering manner in the novel: “Pilate did not stink, nor was she filthy, she was simply ragged” (Morrison 38). She was ever straight forward in a conversation. According to Milkman, she is a woman with neither social position nor property, but she seems wiser than her father. Pilate transmits her wisdom and knowledge to Milkman and initiates her relatives, as well as the reader of the African-American culture.
Such a classification has its strength on the effect that it brings out matters as they really are and helps the reader to go through the novel bearing in mind that there is sexism depicted. This sets the readers’ mind to understand sexism as portrayed in the society and community in the novel. However, it may put off some readers, especially those considered as female oppressors. It may not also be clear whether the women were really fighting for liberty of maybe it was a character of one or a few of them.
Moreover, this book helps the male readers learn for they would have more than women. Using a male protagonist, therefore, brings out their life clearly and their daily undertakings, portraying how they treat women and what happens behind their backs, when women are hurt. Some readers, however, would reject the novel because they would think it is biased. The book’s content was challenged as to be banned in schools in the U.S since 1993. However, it was reinstated in some schools including Franklin High School in Indianapolis, and was listed as Barack Obama’s favorite book in the list “40 favorite books of famous people”