The Story of the Song of Solomon

All human relationships come down to it. Would you save my life? Or Would you take it?

Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is set in a time in America, when even though slavery was abolished, the coloured people led a life far from being free or fair. They didn’t get justice like the whites did, nor were they treated equally, still barred from entering certain places or buying property. What was theirs was being taken from them by the whites just because the latter didn’t believe that the former deserved it, especially and only because of their colour.

At such times was born Macon Dead, the protagonist of this story who lives a rather privileged life being the grandson of the only Doctor in their clan and son of a wealthy real estate businessman. The book is about Macon’s life, of his lack of empathy towards ‘coloured people problems’ because he hasn’t had to face any, his disinterest towards his own history or the relevance of it in his life, his inability to understand why the people around him – his father, his mother, his sisters, his aunt, his lover or his best friend – are the way they are, always angry within, always seeking some form of justice. He isn’t stupid. He is just your regular unsympathetic observer.

Macon on ‘Deserving’

And then the change happens.

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The Story of a Beloved

A masterpiece. Oh it is a masterpiece!

Toni Morrison in Beloved tells us the story of a slave family during the times when slavery was being abolished; when they’ve lived such a life and didn’t know how to live otherwise or are still living in the aftermath of what they went through. A time, when legally slavery was done with, but society still had a long way to go in terms of realigning ideologies.

Subtle realities hit you in the passing. Brutal realities. Things that happened to them, choices they had to make, blatant hypocrisy they had to accept as normal, everything hits you. When one of the characters talks of freedom as

“To get to a place where you could love anything you chose – not to need permission for desire. That was freedom”

You begin to realise how deprived they were.

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