Song of Solomon

by: Toni Morrison

Important Quotations Explained

5
O Solomon don’t leave me here
Cotton balls to choke me
O Solomon don’t leave me here
Buckra’s arms to yoke me
Solomon done fly, Solomon done gone
Solomon cut across the sky, Solomon gone home.

Milkman hears Shalimar children singing these lyrics, a part of Solomon’s song, in Chapter 12. The song connects Milkman to his family’s past and provides him with crucial stories about his grandfather, Jake, and his great-grandparents, Solomon and Ryna.

Solomon’s song implies that when men free themselves from oppression they often leave women behind. “O Solomon don’t leave me here” describes Ryna’s descent into desperation and madness as Solomon prepares for his flight. Although Solomon escapes slavery, his flight leaves Ryna to take care of their children while working in the cotton fields. The theme of male liberation coming at the expense of female oppression is reflected in Milkman’s relationship with Hagar, and recurs throughout Morrison’s novel.

Even though Solomon’s flight dooms Ryna to abandonment and his children to orphanhood, the song suggests that his flight is still a magnificent achievement. Solomon’s song ends with a description of Solomon’s flight rather than with a description of Ryna’s deprivation. This ending shows the ultimate triumph of liberation. As a result, when Milkman learns that the song is actually about his family, he is not saddened, but inspired. Though tainted by the pain of abandonment, Solomon’s flight is an important part of Milkman’s heritage. In learning about Solomon’s story, Milkman learns pieces of his own, allowing him, finally, to fly free—literally and figuratively.