Compare and contrast Pilate and Ruth. How does each of them treat Milkman? How does belonging to different economic classes affect their relationship with each other?
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These two seemingly different women are bound together by their shared love for Milkman. Pilate and Ruth raise Milkman together. Their concern for Milkman is more important than any boundaries caused by their different social and economic classes. Although Ruth does not befriend any women on the Southside and Pilate never goes to Not Doctor Street, the two women are at ease and open with each other. Through their deep bond, Morrison shows us that a shared love is more important in bringing people together than any superficial markers of status.
Compare and contrast Macon Jr.’s and Milkman’s quests for gold. How does searching for gold alter their personalities?
Although both men seek money, they approach their quests differently. For Macon Jr., gold becomes an end in itself. However, Milkman’s quest for financial riches becomes a journey to uncover his family history. Having seen his father die while defending his land, Macon Jr. develops an unhealthy attachment to material things. For example, when Macon Jr. sees gold nuggets in Hunter’s Cave after murdering an old white man, his humanity begins to disappear. He neither regrets killing the white man nor pays attention to his father’s ghost, who is trying to speak to him. Although he never recovers the gold he sees in Hunter’s Cave, Macon Jr. spends his life trying to find the wealth he believes he has lost. He severs the relationship with his sister, Pilate, and damages the relationship with his immediate family, revealing that he does not own his gold. Instead, his gold owns him.
Initially Milkman is just as captivated by gold as his father, Macon Jr. However, Milkman does not seek gold for its own sake. For Milkman, gold is a tool, an instrument that can win him independence from his parents. Because Milkman never becomes as attached to the image of gold as Macon Jr., he is able to let go of his search for gold when his efforts fail. The quest for gold enriches Milkman because it puts him on the path of personal discovery.
What is the relationship between whites and blacks in Song of Solomon? What does the novel reveal about Morrison’s attitude toward race problems?
Despite the whites’ catastrophic presence, Morrison warns that hatred and revenge are not useful responses to racism. Guitar’s lust for vengeance eventually causes him to attempt to murder Milkman, a black man just like him. While Morrison understands Guitar’s desire for justice in an oppressive white society, she shows that his anger is detrimental to his cause. By focusing on those who hate him rather than on himself, Guitar achieves nothing. Milkman, on the other hand, realizes his individual potential and liberates himself from his personal limitations.