Song of Solomon - Paul Markakis AP English Period 6 Song of...

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Paul Markakis AP English Period 6 Song of Solomon Throughout Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon, language is used to connote deeper meanings to the reader. Whether it is through the use of figurative language or repeated motifs, Morrison implies ideas far deeper than those denoted by her syntax and diction. The names Morrison gives the characters in Song of Solomon are commentaries on their personalities as opposed to arbitrarily chosen names. For example, the characterization of the name Hagar can be taken from the biblical context. In Genesis, Hagar was the mistress to Abraham. He impregnated her and then later exiled her. Similarly, Milkman had an affair with Hagar for years. However, when he no longer had any interest in her Milkman removed Hagar from her life. She was “exiled” from the life of Milkman just as the biblical Hagar was exiled from the home of Abraham. A further meaning that can be ascertained from the name Hagar comes from a word within her name: hag. In folklore, a hag sat on a sleeping person’s chest and sent the person nightmares. 1 This was immediately reminiscent of the scene when Hagar attempted to murder Milkman. The thought of Hagar attempting to kill him caused nightmares involving being stabbed repeatedly with ice picks. These nightmares were brought about directly because of Hagar’s actions. Just as with the folkloric hag, Hagar directly caused Milkman’s nightmares. He was also lying in bed when Hagar entered the room and attempted to kill Milkman. Milkman was literally unable to move, one of the supposed effects of the folkloric hag. 1
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Hagar sounds similar to haggard, a word meaning “wild or distraught in appearance.” 2 This can be applied to Hagar as she came out of her bedroom [p. 314] after coating her face in all of the makeup she had purchased the day of her death. The makeup was applied unevenly and was dripping all down Hagar’s face. This wild appearance was a direct result of the pain caused by Hagar’s love for Milkman. She was distraught over the fact that Milkman did not love her. Something that is haggard is also “intractable,” or difficult to cure. As Pilate and Reba found, it was impossible to cure Hagar of her broken heart. Their attempts to spoil Hagar with material objects to remedy her depression did not work. It was impossible to alleviate the pain that Milkman caused Hagar which eventually led to her death. Another name Morrison uses throughout the book is Macon. The first Macon Dead, actually named Jake, was named Macon by mistake based on the town he claimed to have lived in. The actual town of Macon grew from a small town used as a prison during the Civil War to a prosperous town in mid-Georgia. 3
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This note was uploaded on 02/22/2012 for the course ENGLISH 100 taught by Professor N/a during the Fall '11 term at Johns Hopkins.

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Song of Solomon - Paul Markakis AP English Period 6 Song of...

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