This is the chapter summary of first of two parts of Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon. I’m doing the WEM project assignments for this book.
Not long after Mr. Smith, an insurance agent, flew from hospital roof, Ruth Foster gave birth to her baby boy. Years after that, Macon Dead, her husband, hated her and was always hard to his family; while Ruth took pleasure from breastfeeding her (now) teenage boy, that the boy got ‘Milkman’ as his nickname. Macon rented houses to poor colored families, and he was heartless in dealing with them.
Macon had an eccentric sister, Pilate, whom he loved but was ashamed of her undignified qualities and of her being a wine maker. He warned his son not to visit Pilate—whom he called ‘snake’—but Milkman was fascinated by his aunt and his female cousins when he—despite of his father’s ban—visited them. In a father-son much more tender dialog, Macon told his history; how his illiterate father has struggled and even died to keep the land he owned.
Now Milkman apprenticed in his father’s business; one night he defended his mother who was beaten by Macon, by punching him back. Later that night Macon told him how he suspected Ruth for having incest with her father. Reflecting this new story, Milkman recollected how Ruth had breastfed him when he was no longer a baby, and this troubled him very much and thought his father ought not to tell him a truth that he could do nothing of now. Meanwhile, there was a murder in town, and a possibility that the police might blame a Negro.
Milkman wanted to dump his girlfriend Hagar, Pilate’s daughter, out of bore. He was now in the search of life meaning, and lately his friend Guitar seemed more thoughtful and more serious. One day Freddie the janitor told him that something strange had been boiling on below the surface, that something might happen, and that Guitar might hide a Negro friend who had possibly committed the murder in town.
Ruth told Milkman that his father has actually killed her father the Doctor; and almost killed him (Milkman) out of jealousy of having her for his own, if Pilate did not interfere. For months after his break-up letter to Hagar, the girl stalked and attempted to kill him, but just couldn’t. Pilate told her history, how after her dad been killed, she and Macon wandered around before they separated, how she’d been ‘cut-off’ from everyone just because she was different, that now she lived by herself but attentive to others who need help.
Guitar finally told Milkman his secret. He’s been joining a society called ‘Seven Days’, whose mission is to kill a random white, everytime a Negro has been killed by whites authority. Their aim is to get even with white people, so that they won’t be diminished like the Indians. Milkman was shocked and opposed it, but to no avail.
Macon told Milkman how he and Pilate, after their dad died, stayed in a cave inside a wood. A white man scared him, so Macon stabbed him dead, and found gold nuggets in a green tarpaulin bag. Pilate opposed his plan to steal the gold; but Macon did not find Pilate and the gold when he came back to the cave the next day. Now he was assure that the green bag hanging in Pilate’s house was the gold; and asked Milkman to steal it.
Milkman cooperated with Guitar to steal the sack of gold from Pilate’s house. When planning it, they saw a white peacock was opening its tail wide upon the used cars place’s rooftop. They sneaked into Pilate’s house on the scheduled night and succeeded in bringing the sack out, without realizing that Pilate was actually seeing them silently.
Corinthians, the elder sister of Milkman, had a love relationship with a man named Henry Porter; later on Milkman recognized him as one of the Seven Days member; and because of that she must break it. Meanwhile, the sack’s content, which they thought was gold, turned out to be a white man’s skeletons, the man whom Macon killed. Pilate helped releasing Milkman and Guitar from jail; but Macon believed the gold was still in the cave, and told Milkman to get it.