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Song of Solomon

Toni Morrison

Chapters 8–9

Chapters 6–7

Chapters 8–9, page 2

page 1 of 3

Summary: Chapter 8

Guitar lies in his bed, figuring out how to bomb a white church and kill four little white girls in order to avenge the Birmingham church bombing, in which four little black girls perished. Guitar’s plans hit a dead end because he does not have enough money to purchase explosives. Milkman then arrives and tells Guitar about the treasure Pilate is supposedly hoarding in the green tarp. The two friends fantasize about how to get the loot, devise ways to get it out of Pilate’s house, and relish all the possibilities the money will bring.

During Milkman and Guitar’s conversation, a mysterious white peacock leaps off a building and struts around the street in front of them. Guitar and Milkman attempt to catch the peacock, but then lose themselves in fantasies about the gold. Guitar briefly thinks that he could use the money to help out his grandmother and siblings but then recalls that he needs the money for his Seven Days mission. Meanwhile, Milkman realizes that having a large sum of money would liberate him by making him independent from his father. The following night, Guitar and Milkman steal into Pilate’s house and cut down the green bundle. On their way out, Guitar thinks he sees a figure of a man standing right behind Milkman. As the pair leaves Pilate’s place, Reba, who is awake, wonders what the robbers might want with the bundle.

Summary: Chapter 9

The narrator tells us that First Corinthians is secretly working as a maid for Michael-Mary Graham, the state poet laureate. Although First Corinthians graduated from Bryn Mawr and has been to France, no man of her social class is interested in marrying her because she is too “accustomed to middle-class life.” Though her parents think she is working as Graham’s secretary, First Corinthians has taken the job as a maid in order to get out of Macon Jr.’s house and feel independent.

On her bus rides home from work, First Corinthians is courted by an elderly black man, who we later learn is Henry Porter. Porter works as a yardman and is a Southside tenant of Macon Jr.’s, and he and First Corinthians begin to date in secret. He eventually confronts her and asks her if she is ashamed to be dating him. First Corinthians says that she is not. But after she realizes that she is in love with Porter and that he might leave her forever because she is not a “doll-baby,” she admits that she has not been fair to Porter. They go to his place and make love.

When First Corinthians returns home to Not Doctor Street, she overhears a loud argument between Macon Jr. and Milkman. During the argument it comes out that while driving with the tarp bundle in their car after the robbery, Guitar and Milkman were pulled over by a cop, searched, and taken to the police station. The bundle, as it turns out, is not filled with gold but with rocks and a human skeleton. Both Macon Jr. and Pilate come to the station to bail them out. Pilate plays the act of an ignorant old woman, and tells a story about how the bones belonged to her dead husband, Mr. Solomon. The cops believe Pilate’s story, return the bundle to her, and let the two men go. Milkman recalls that on the ride back from the station, Pilate told Macon Jr. that she never took the gold, but instead came back to the cave three years after she and Macon Jr. parted to collect the bones of the dead white man. Pilate claimed that Macon Dead I ordered her to come back because she could not “fly on off and leave a body.”

While they are sitting in the den of their house in the middle of the night, Macon Jr. yells at Milkman, asking him why he took along Guitar, “that Southside nigger.” Milkman refuses to respond to his father’s provocations and is instead shocked by the fact that the cops stopped him without a good reason. Milkman calls his father crazy, but Macon Jr. says that if Pilate did not take the gold then it must still be in the cave, and that someone should retrieve it.

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Correction

by GrammarJunkie18, August 16, 2014

In your character analysis of Ruth Dead, you wrote that "Ruth relies on Pilate for financial support." I'm not sure what you meant to say - maybe "Ruth relies on Pilate for emotional support" or "Pilate relies on Ruth for financial support." Either way, please correct. Thanks.

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