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The Odyssey in Song of Solomon

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Carleton...

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documents in English
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term papers
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6 pages
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General public
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  1. Introduction
  2. References to classical mythology
  3. Morrison's music
  4. Song of Solomon's reoccurring theme
  5. The character from The Odyssey
    1. Pilate
    2. Crice
  6. Milkman's journey of self discovery
  7. Milkman's actual reintegration into society
  8. Song of Solomon
  9. Conclusion
  10. Bibliography

Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon has a small but important feature that distinguishes it from its predecessors: unlike Sula and The Bluest Eye, its protagonist, Milkman, is male. While Sula and The Bluest Eye center on female characters, and locate themselves in domestic spheres, Song of Solomon focuses on a male character whose (apparent) journey out of the domestic sphere constitutes a heroic quest for identity. Morrison explores masculinity by taking it back to its roots: the epic narrative. She refers to Song of Solomon as ?an overtly, stereotypically male narrative? that is ??very saga-like.? However, Morrison, never content with the ?overt? and ?stereotypical?, complicates her sage-like narrative by undermining its form. She wishes it to be ?Old-school heroic, but with other meanings?(xii, forward). This ?old-school heroic? narrative incorporates elements of classical mythology, specifically Homer's The Odyssey, with the personal myths of Milkman's past, and expands those myths to speak to the African-American experience. But Morrison further complicates her ?masculine? narrative with questions about gender. Like the hero's quest in The Odyssey, Milkman's quest is a quest to reach his ancestral ?home?, and thus reclaim his identity. Unlike The Odyssey, Song of Solomon also focuses on those left behind during the quest, and with the accretion that Pilate ?without ever leaving the ground?could fly?(332) suggests that the epic narrative can be rooted in femininity and domesticity.

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