Song Of Solomon

The novel Song of Solomon has several recurring themes,
including that of sexuality. Morrison effectively
demonstrates these sexual themes relating to both sexes.
Unlike in her other novels, both the men and women are
“searching for love, for valid sexual encounters, and above
all, for a sense that they are worthy.”(Bakerman 318) While
Song of Solomon gives men a more prominent place, Morrison
also shows the desires of women to break away from
established society and to create an individualistic life.
Pilate is one of the most apparent characters in her
journey to explore her sexuality and womanhood. She is
portrayed by Morrison as a strong and a somewhat rebellious
woman. She establishes something extraordinary during that
time, economic independence. In the process “she rejects the
traditional image of woman by cutting off her hair...and
wearing clothes functional to her way of life.”(Mickelson
316) Even though this is all true, Morrison never lets us
forget that Pilate is a woman planted in the reality of
black society. Ruth also yearns to escape the shackles that
hold her down as a married woman. In the opening scenes of
the novel, Ruth shows us her trivial concerns dealing with a
stain on the table. Ruth “... talked endlessly to her
daughters and her guests about how to get rid of it - what
might hide this single flaw on the splendid wood...She had
tried them all.” (Morrison 11) As insignificant as they
were, these were Ruth’s concerns. Yet the stain has a deeper
meaning symbolizing the scar that Ruth has, but fervently
attempts to cover up, from her married life. We learn that
Her husband never loved her and they haven’t been intimate
in years. “When Ruth was naked and lying there as moist and
crumbly as unbleached sugar, he bent to unlace her shoes.
That was the final delight, for once he had undressed her
feet, had peeled her stockings down over her ankles and
toes, he entered her and ejaculated quickly. She liked it
that way. So did he. And in almost twenty years during which
he had not laid eyes on her naked feet, he missed only the
underwear.” (Morrison 16) As she dealt with the rejection of
her husband, Ruth searched for sexual satisfaction
elsewhere, eventually turning to her son, Milkman. “He was
too young to be dazzled by her nipples, but he was old
enough to be bored by the flat taste of mother’s milk, so he
came reluctantly, as to a chore, and lay as he had at least
once each day of his life in his mother’s arms, and tried to
pull the thin, faintly sweet milk from her flesh without
hurting her with his teeth.” (Morrison 13) Ruth recognized
that the breastfeeding was wrong, but let her desire cloud
her better judgement. Milkman is used as a pleasure toy
until the abuse is discovered. Ruth is once again left in a
state of sexual deprivation.
Most novels deal only with women and revolutions but
Morrison “ not only with the woman who breaks away
from the established society...but with the black man who
yearns to fly...” Milkman is avidly searching for a woman
and a sense of security, and as opposed to the women, his
search is surprisingly successful. The audience never
questions Milkman’s ability to love, yet we see the problems
he has recognizing it. Hagar, who was only considered a
“lady friend”, was an important individual in Milkman’s
life. They had an indescribable bond, yet they never pursued
a relationship beyond a physical one. “Everybody who knew
him knew about Hagar, but she was considered his private
honey pot, not a real or legitimate girlfriend- not someone
he might marry.” (Morrison 91) Not until he meets Sweet,
does he learn about love and passion. The relationship that
the two develop is both sexually and emotionally fulfilling.
Here he learns that love is a mutual feeling necessary for a
healthy relationship. Guitar on the other hand is guided by
a different type of love, a love for the black race. He is
so devoted to the black cause, he turns violent, randomly
murdering whites. This love is driven by the void created
when his father died and although Guitar’s love sharply
contrasts that of Milkman, they both use love to fill a gap
in their life.
Song of Solomon uses sexual themes to explain a search
on which every character embarked. Milkman, Pilate, Ruth,
and Guitar, among others, are looking for love and sex to
take the place of all that is missing in their lives. Sex is
used as a solution to such various problems as loneliness
and insecurity. We learn through this novel that sex and
love are