Song of Solomon

Appreciation, Escape, and Resurrection

In literature, what does it mean for somebody to fly? Ovid's Metamorphoses, chronicles of Greco-Roman mythology dating over 2000 years ago, depicts the failure of flight through the fates of Icarus and Phaeton, victims of hubris. Written by Toni Morrison and published in 1977, Song of Solomon opens and ends with the image of attempted flight. An array of paradoxical connotations emerges from this image such as triumph and failure, heroism and cowardice, and life and death. One can justify those dichotomies as a direct result to Morrison's decision to leave the reasoning behind Robert Smith and Milkman's leap into the air open to interpretation. Although it is unclear as to why Smith and Milkman attempt to fly, the readers discover the deterrent of flight through Milkman and Guitar's observation and interlocution about the grounded, ostentatious peacock. The conclusion is "the shit weighs you down" (179). To realize what it means to fly in this novel, this "shit" must be defined, as well. In Song of Solomon, images of flight reflect elements of past, present, and future: appreciation of one's origin, escape from societal domestication, and resurrection of the human spirit.

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