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Free Study Guide-Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison-Free Chapter Summary
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 8

Summary

Milkman and Guitar discuss the ways they will spend the money when the gold is converted into cash. Milkman had gone to Guitar with the story, telling him they could get it and then split it with his father three ways. Macon doesnít know about this plan, but Milkman decides Macon will have to agree to it after the fact of the robbery. Guitar fantasizes all the things he can get for his family. Milkman fantasizes about ways to get out of town: cars, boats, and planes.

He realizes his fantasies ring hollow. He doesnít have a great desire for the gold. Guitar questions him about why he is so cautious about stealing the gold from Pilate. Guitar thinks the theft will be utterly easy since they will only be going against three women. He pushes Milkman to give him an answer and then in frustration he tells Milkman to live his life. The sound of these words make Milkman realize heís never had a goal before. He begins to feel a self emerge in him. This is the kind of escapade he could one day tell at the barbershop. Heís never done anything worth telling before except hitting his father and that isnít something a person tells a bunch of bored old men sitting around a barbershop.


They agree to meet that night at one in the morning. They step into Pilateís kitchen and are shocked at how intensely cold it is in contrast to the warm air outside. The moon suddenly shines into the room and Milkman stands on Guitarís hand to pull the sack down. Itís tied with wire and itís a bit of a struggle to get it down. When it is released from its hold, a sigh escapes, but both men think it is the other man. Another sigh escapes as they hoist it out the window. As Guitar is pulling it through the window from Milkmanís hands, he thinks he sees the figure of a man standing behind Milkman. As they run off, Pilate looks out her window and wonders why they want that sack. Then she picks a splinter from the window sill and chews on it.

Notes

While Guitar and Milkman are talking about what they will do with the money and how they will get the gold out of Pilateís house, they see a white peacock in a car lot. When Milkman asks Guitar why it canít fly, Guitar explains that the bird has too much for a tail, too much treasure, and that in order to fly, one has to lighten oneís load. Morrison uses this white peacock to emblematize Milkmanís dilemma. He wants to leave town, but having always had all he needs, he has no drive to make a life for himself independently from his fatherís money. It is Milkman who needs to get rid of the baggage of materialism in order to fly free. The bag, which is supposed to hold gold, actually holds bones, as is indicated with all the conventional ghostly signs: the cold air, the heavy sighs, and the image of the man standing behind Milkman. Obviously, Milkmanís plan to escape the past by use of the gold is not going to work. Instead of escaping the past, heís digging the past up.

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