Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon Summary and Analysis of Chapters 8 & 9


Guitar has to undertake a serious mission of bombing four white girls, in order to avenge four black girls that were bombed out of a church on a past Sunday. He realizes that he will need money to buy explosives, and his plans reach a dead end. Milkman arrives, and tells Guitar about his plan to steal the sack of gold from Pilate. In good humor once he learns of the potential money-making scheme, Guitar makes suggestions on how to rob Pilate's house. Both friends appear to be in great spirits as they fantasize about the possibilities so much money will bring.

While Guitar and Milkman saunter down Route Six they spot a white peacock on a roof of a low building. As they approach the building, the peacock flies down to strut in front of them. Guitar and Milkman attempt momentarily to catch the peacock before they once again start daydreaming about what they would do and buy with the money.

Though Milkman wants to steal the gold to get away from his family, he begins to have second doubts about robbing Pilate. Guitar, on the other hand, becomes insistent in going ahead with stealing the gold. Milkman, slightly dazed by Guitar's tone, does not think anything through but simply says he will pick Guitar up at one-thirty the following night.

The next night, both men enter Pilate's home through a window, cut the cord of the sack with a knife, and grab what they believe is the gold. As they are leaving, Milkman thinks he saw a silhouette of a man standing behind Guitar, but then decides it was the moonlight playing tricks on him. On the other side of the house, a woman stands at the window wondering what the thieves wanted the bag for.

In Chapter Nine, First Corinthians begins to secretly work as a maid, and tells her mother that she is an amanuensis to Michael-Mary Graham, the State Poet Laureate. After coming to the realization that she was a forty-two year old maker of rose petals, Corinthians suffers a great depression. She finally decides to find a job and be independent, but realizes that she has no useful skills even though she is well-traveled and a college graduate.

One day on her way to work, a man sits down next to her on the bus, and does so many times in the course of the next few weeks. Corinthians at first makes her disdain shown, but then, unexpectedly, she begins to be intrigued by this confident, elderly man. She soon falls in love with him. We find out that he is Henry Porter, a yardman and tenant of her father's. She is at first ashamed of dating him, and keeps their relationship a secret. Porter soon grows frustrated and calls her a "doll-baby." Corinthians soon sees the error of her ways and accompanies Porter to his home.

Sneaking into her room at four o'clock in the morning, just after leaving Porter's tiny rented room, Corinthians overhears her father and brother's loud discussion. As she hurries off to bed, Macon continues to insist that the gold must be in the cave. Milkman, though, is weary until he remembers being pulled over by the police for no reason. Angry for being thrown in jail, Macon reminds Milkman that he should be thankful he has a father with money.

Pilate eventually shows up at the police station to talk the police into releasing Milkman and Guitar, claiming that the bones they were arrested for belonged to her late husband, Mr. Solomon. On their way back from jail, Pilate tells Macon that she never took the gold, only the dead man's bones. Pilate claims after she left the cave, she saw her papa who told her that "if you take a life, you own it."

The next day, Milkman awakes to feel ashamed for stealing Pilate's sack. He decides to take a bath, still disgusted by the policeman searching him, and then realizes that his left leg is no longer shorter than his right one. Afterwards, he sets out to find Guitar, and accidentally comes across the gray Oldsmobile he oftentimes sees dropping Corinthians off at home. He notices Guitar outside the car sharing an intricate handshake with Railroad Tommy. Inside the car sit five other men, including Hospital Tommy, Porter, Empire State, Nero and one man unfamiliar to Milkman. Milkman quickly realizes that they are the Seven Days, and he is appalled that Corinthians is dating Porter. He goes home and informs his father, which leads to Corinthians having to quit her job, and Porter being evicted.

When Milkman comes home a little drunk, he is surprised to see Lena standing at the top of the stairs waiting for him. Lena is angry at Milkman's carefree and careless attitude, and accuses him of urinating all over her, Corinthians and Ruth all his life. Furious at Milkman for tattling on Corinthians, Lena slaps him, tells him he is exactly like Macon, and tells him the only reason he gets to decide what is best for them is because of the "hog's gut" that is in between his legs. Then, Lena informs him that she has stopped creating red velvet roses, and that he has urinated his last in their house.


The white peacock Guitar and Milkman see is a symbol of their greed. The peacock dances in front of them and they want to catch it just as the image of the gold dances around in their minds and they want to find it. Macon Dead II also sees the white peacock's tail when he spots the gold in the cave. In some Asian cultures, the peacock is a symbol of wealth, while in others, it merely signifies beauty. However, both beauty and wealth are materialistic desires. The color white is associated with evil, and we can see an earlier example of white being negatively exposed through Freddie's tale of the white bull. In Christian tradition, the color white symbolizes purity, virginity and birth, but as a result of white oppression, the color takes on a sinister depiction.

Milkman's distress at being pulled over by the police for no apparent reason but his skin color ends his optimistic world view. This is the first time that he has experienced discrimination in his privileged life. Further agonizing is the fact that he if Macon Dead II had not been rich, Milkman would have stayed in jail. This experience draws Milkman closer to the rest of the African-American population, who at the time was being continuously discriminated against.

While the realization that both his legs are the same length does not appear to surprise Milkman, it signifies that he no longer is different from the rest of the black people. The fact that his skin color mattered more to the police than his money angered and upset him. It also unified him with the rest of his fellow African Americans. The prior limp and shorter leg were also signs of Milkman's lack of compassion. As soon as he finds himself ashamed for stealing from Pilate, he notices his legs are the same length.

Chapter Nine also brings about the transformation of Lena and Corinthian's characters. Usually classified as passive with no real life, they begin to revolt against the oppression in their own home. Corinthians takes a job as a maid to ensure her independence and ability to survive. She also takes on a lover from a lower social class. Lena, on the other hand, confronts Milkman with what he was his whole life, someone who uses but does not give back. Lena's decision to stop making fake roses suggests that she is no longer willing to live under false pretenses. Red imitation rose petals may also signify false love.

There is a conflict in the narrator's version of events with what Macon believes. The narrator claims that the gold is not in the cave but Macon believes it might still be there. The fact that the gold is not there when Milkman searches the cave suggests that the narrator is a more reliable source than Macon. However, sending Milkman on a wild goose chase is significant as his road to finding his identity is a long and twisted one.