Fight for Control in Song of Solomon
The idea of complete independence and indifference to the surrounding world, symbolized by flying, stands as a prominent concept throughout Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon. However, the main character Milkman feels that this freedom lies beyond his reach; he cannot escape the demands of his family and feel fulfilled at the same time. As Milkman's best friend Guitar says through the novel, "Everybody wants a black man's life," a statement Milkman easily relates to while seeking escape from his sheltered life at home. Although none of the characters in the story successfully take control of Milkman's life and future, many make aggressive attempts to do so including his best friend Guitar who, ironically, sympathizes with Milkman's situation, his frustrated cousin Hagar, and most markedly his father, Macon Dead.
Guitar Bains, Milkman's best friend since childhood, serves as Milkman's only outlet to life outside his secluded and reserved family. Guitar introduces Milkman to Pilate, Reba, and Hagar, as well as to normal townspeople such as those that meet in the barber shop, and the weekend party-goers Milkman and Guitar fraternize with regularly. However, despite their close friendship, the opportunity to gain a large amount of gold severs all their friendly ties. Guitar, suspecting Milkman took all the gold for himself, allows his greed and anger to dictate his actions and sets out on a manhunt, ready to take Milkman down wherever and whenever he could in order to retrieve the hoarded riches. Guitar's first few sniper attempts to execute Milkman did fail; however, the ending of the novel leaves the reader with the imminent death of either Milkman or Guitar. Ironic that the reader never discovers whether Guitar, who coined the statement, "Everybody wants the life of a black man" (222), ever gets the life of Milkman. Even though the reader does not learn whether anyone ever does get Milkman's life, rest assured that despite her efforts, Hagar did not.
At the beginning of the novel Milkman visits Pilate's household on a regular basis. Seeing it a refuge from his exceedingly dull life, he involves himself in the lives of his relatives; especially in that of Hagar. Throughout his adolescence, Hagar brushes off Milkman's lascivious glances and displays of affection; however, as he matures, Hagar takes interest in Milkman and falls in love with him as she fulfills his sexual desires. Once Milkman's lust for Hagar abates, he chooses to unceremoniously dump her and seek others within his own social group to fill the void (or rather, for him to fill her void). Hagar, abashed, searches for Milkman's reasons for the sudden, unexpected change, but when she sees him with another woman her fury unleashes and initiates a colossal cascade of emotion that results in Hagar's monthly attempts to kill Milkman. Feeling that she deserves Milkman's love and attention more so than other women, Hagar...