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 Discussion of Song of Solomon
(Students' names are used with permission)

FROM: Instructor TO: Class

At the end of the book, Milkman learns what Solomon knew, "if you surrendered to the air, you could ride it" (337).

Milkman learns lots of other things, too. What has he learned? Why did Morrison end the book as she did?

FROM: Stacey Boltz TO: Group 1

While Morrison tied together many of the mysteries presented throughout the novel, the ending is still quite ambiguous. Milkman does however, get his childhood wish of just being able to fly away. Why does Milkman get his wish when so many other characters continued to suffer? Is he worthy of such a great feat?

FROM: Jason DeHaven TO: Group 1

I think that Morrison ended the book as she did because it did not matter who died, and it would have taken away from the larger picture she was trying to convey. Milkman had learned of his heritage, and the reasons that his relatives behaved the way the did. He began to want to know what his parents had went through, so he could see them as the people they truly were. Before, he had wondered in disgust why everyone kept telling him about their lives. At the end, he believed the secrets of his people was the answer to the emptiness he had always felt.

FROM: Mandy Derr TO: Group 1

Hello Group. In this book Milkman does learn a lot about life and death, after being around Guitar. Milkman is faced with his own death, almost, but he luckily is able to fly away. I think Morrison ended the book in this way to let the reader come up with his/her own conclusion. Morrison started off the book with Mr. Smith, to tried to fly away to get away from his problems. He failed at his attempt, while Milkman was able to fly away.

FROM: Tom Trovato TO: Group 1

what's up guys

I think that Milkman finally learns why he loves Pilate. In fact, I think he learns how to love in general. Here is a young man who is babied basically all his life; even his nickname revolves around his childhood. This young man learns when he is younger about physical love.

When he gets older all he wants is physical love. In the end even though I am not sure how he learns, but he learns to love everything, i.e. he can find a good in everything.

FROM: Stacey Boltz TO: Group 1

good point Jason. Milkman was annoyed by discussions centering upon his "people" early in the book. By the end however, it is the mystery of his people that drives him. Morrison illustrates the importance of the past determining one's future in her novel.

FROM: Mandy Derr TO: Group 1

I agree with Stacey, and wonder what made Milkman so worthy of getting his wish. Was it because he learned about his own heritage that he deserved this special gift?

FROM: Tom Trovato TO: Group 1

Mandy, I agree with the fact that Mr. Smith failed at his attempt to fly because he did not resolve his problems. Milkman however, solved the mystery of his heritage and was able to fly because he was content.

FROM: Jason DeHaven TO: Group 1

I struggled with the ending, trying to decide whether Milkman actually flew or not. I thought maybe surrendering to the air was just a reference to being at one with nature, and that he had learned to do so, just as the hunters had when they were talking to trees, dogs, and the ground. I probably just rationalized this theory because I was often frustrated by the unrealistic nature of certain events throughout the book, and, for me, those things I deem impossible hurt my impression of the story despite the excellent plot.

FROM: Sue Wenz TO: Group 1

Milkman does learn a lot, especially near the end of the book. One thing that struck me was how he made distinctions among the men in the different towns he had visited. At first he was overwhelmed with hospitality, but later when he visits Shalimar he experiences some initial hostility. "They looked at his skin and saw it was as black as theirs, but they knew he had the heart of the white men who came to pick them up in the trucks when they needed anonymous, faceless laborers." (266) Later in the reading, we see Milkman question his own values and even his life. "Apparently he thought he deserved only to be loved - from a distance, though - and given what he wanted." (277) I think this is the first time that Milkman makes some sort of evaluation on his life, and he actually wants to go home and share what history he has learned.

FROM: Amy Hunt TO: Group 1

I think that Morrison ends the book in this way because she wants to keep the reader thinking. Mandy makes a good comparison between Mr. Smith and Milkman when Morrison compares the two and their chances at flying. Mr. Smith was just trying to cop out whereas Milkman was actually serving a purpose by flying away.

FROM: Tom Trovato TO: Group 1

I agree with Jason. I not sure if Milkman really flew or was he just so content and "high on life" that he was basically at one with the air and its currents. It had been one long strange trip.

FROM: Stacey Boltz TO: Group 1

Why do we feel compassion for Milkman? Is he that great of a man? He never helped anyone in his life (except the old white man in Danville), not even his own mother or Pilate (whom he claims to love). He is a greedy, self absorbed manipulator who in his callousness drove Hagar to her death. How does Morrison still make her readers feel sympathetic towards this complex "protagonist"?

FROM: Jason DeHaven TO: Group 1

Tom made an excellent point about Milkman finally learns to love. It's interesting how Milkman never truly cherished his life or had anyone to love and really care about, and when he finally does love someone, she is killed. Not only that, but as his life is finally getting pieced together and have meaning, his day might have come, and to the hands of the person who always criticized him for not being serious about anything.

FROM: Sue Wenz TO: Group 1

Jason - I had trouble with the ending as well. At first I thought that Milkman's "flying" had not actually occurred and that he had taken his life almost to prove his innocence to Guitar. But when I remembered all of the supernatural occurrences in the book, it definitely seems possible to have Milkman be able to fly (and it also manages to bring the entire story together)

FROM: Instructor TO: Group 1

Stacey wrote.

' How does Morrison still make her readers feel sympathetic towards this complex "protagonist"?'

One reading of the last paragraph of the book, by the way, is that Guitar *had* already killed Milkman, and that the "flying" was Milkman's soul leaving his body.

In any case, Milkman isn't a completely favorable protagonist. We saw Oskar Schindler change--what does Milkman still need to resolve (presuming he is not dead?).

FROM: Mandy Derr TO: Group 1

When first reading the ending, I was a little skeptical on whether Milkman really did fly. However, seeing the other supernatural things that happened in this book, I believe Milkman really did fly away. As Joe just said, though, the thought did come into my mind that it was his soul traveling up to heaven after Milkman shot him. If that was the case, what would it mean? Would it mean that knowing about the mysteries of one's past doesn't do a thing for a person?

FROM: Amy Hunt TO: Group 1

Jason makes an interesting observation about the unbelievableness of the ending. It does kind of seem irrational for us to think that a man could actually fly away and maybe it takes a little bit away from the ending for some. But I don't really think that it does because Morrison has woven such a good story that the reader almost feels compelled to believe that he actually flies.

FROM: Tom Trovato TO: Group 1

Good question, stacey. I feel that in comparison to Milkman, in today's society there are many people who are manipulative and people still praise them. for example those who try to "beat the system." Some who are on welfare are really able to get a job and they just collect because it is easier for them not to work. Those who don't pay their taxes are little Milkmans because they are praised with the extra money they saved cheating the system. However, I think that Milkman is repenting by chasing down his heritage, and therefore, we feel compasssion for him.

FROM: Jason DeHaven TO: Group 1

Reading the last paragraph again, it said he didn't even bend his knees when he began his flight into the, and unless you're standing at the edge of a skyscraper, it's kind of hard to fly through the air without bending your knees. Maybe he could fly, maybe he was dead. Do you think it matters to Morrison what the reader thinks?

FROM: Mandy Derr TO: Group 1

Stacey makes a good point. Why do we feel compassion for Milkman? He is not that more special then Mr. Smith, is he? We have seen Milkman evolve and change in the book, but does he deserve our compassion?

FROM: Mandy Derr TO: Group 1

Everyone seems to be making such a huge deal about chasing down one's heritage. Does it really alter your life in the way it altered Milkman's?

FROM: Sue Wenz TO: Group 1

Hey Stacey - I felt the same way - why feel compassion for a man who feels that he deserves love and should be given what he wanted. He says that he doesn't deserve his "family's dependence, hatred, or whatever. That he didn't even 'deserve' to hear all the misery and mutual accusations his parents unloaded on him. Nor did he 'deserve' Hagar's vengeance." (276) What did he deserve - only good luck and fortune?

FROM: Tom Trovato TO: Group 1

I think Jason we should just let our imaginations run, and not logically figure out if it is physically possible if Milkman could fly. I hope you think I am snapping, though. I think really that Milkman wasn't flying, but he had they urge and the will to fly. He was so happy about finally overcoming a struggle and all he wanted to do was get away from the human life and fly.

FROM: Tom Trovato TO: Group 1

Mandy I think that when you have nothing, and you make something out of it, and you work so hard to cherish it and resolve it, it can alter you life significantly.

FROM: Amy Hunt TO: Group 1

In response to Jason' question, I don't think that it really much matters to Morrison what the reader thinks about what she writes; it's more an issue of her trying to make sure that the reader understands the point of this story.

FROM: Sue Wenz TO: Group 1

I guess that Milkman's quest in finding out his heritage actually stemmed from his search for the gold. He didn't really become interested in his heritage until it held some sort of significance for him. Yet when he found out his history, it held importance to him (and to his family) and eventually led to his saving himself and being able to fly.

FROM: Jason DeHaven TO: Group 1

I think Milkman deserves our compassion because he has a good heart, he never intended to hurt anyone. He felt guilty and pity for Hagar, but he could not live with a woman who was so obsessed with him. His laid back manner was probably the results of his father's serious attitude towards life and the harm his father's name caused him as a child trying to play with the other children. He wanted to enjoy life because he saw fault in the way his father lived his life.

FROM: Stacey Boltz TO: Group 1

Besides the obvious reference to flight, What's up with da peacock? Why did Morrison mention him again in the latter pages we read. One possible theory:

At the beginning, Guitar mentioned that the peacock was male since it had all the plumage which prevented it from flying. If ya compare Milkman to the peacock, you can say that Milkman has shed his "feathers" (that were just there for show) as he made connections to his past.

Therefore, he gained the ability to fly. I still think that Morrison gave Milkman this right prematurely.

FROM: Tom Trovato TO: Group 1

Sue I don't think whether what one deserves, but what they make of themselves.

FROM: Mandy Derr TO: Group 1

Jason, I don't think Morrison cares what the reader thinks. Different people will view it in different ways, and that is probably what she wants. As Tom said, the little Milkman of today might view it as Milkman flying away, while others would not. What is the difference whether he fly away or died? If he died, Guitar just committed another murder. If he flew away, Milkman will never see Guitar again most likely, and will go about his life.

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