Song of Solomon

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Song of Solomon Characters


The son of Solomon, father of Pilate and Macon Dead II, and husband to Sing. Though his real name is Jake, his legal name is Macon Dead I, because when he told… (read full character analysis)

Macon Dead II

The son of Jake (Macon Dead I), brother of Pilate, husband of Ruth, and father of Milkman, First Corinthians, and Magdalene called Lena. Macon is the jealous, unhappy patriarch of… (read full character analysis)


The protagonist of Song of Solomon, his given name is Macon Dead III but he gains the nickname after Freddie sees Ruth, his mother, breastfeeding him. Over the course of the novel, Milkman(read full character analysis)

Pilate Dead

Macon II’s sister, and a Christ-like character who selflessly devotes herself to others, including Reba, Hagar, and Milkman. Her supposed possession of a huge fortune in gold provides the setup for… (read full character analysis)

Ruth Foster

The melancholy wife of Macon Dead II, Ruth attempts early in their marriage to forge a connection with her husband, but ultimately gives up and takes refuge in her own memories, particularly those of… (read full character analysis)
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Guitar Bains

Milkman’s childhood friend, and later a member of the Seven Days, a group that enacts violent revenge on whites it perceives to be guilty. He despises whites of all kinds, and resents Macon Dead(read full character analysis)


Milkman’s great-grandfather, whose near-mythical history, in which he supposedly flew back to Africa, brings great joy to Milkman when he learns of it — and of Solomon, whom he never knew or even knew… (read full character analysis)

Susan Byrd

Susan Byrd is a calm, middle-aged, part-native-American woman who lives near the town of Shalimar. Milkman finds her late in the novel as he is searching out the history of his family and lineage. Though… (read full character analysis)
Minor Characters
Doctor Foster
Ruth’s father, a rich, powerful black man, for whom Not Doctor Street is named. Macon Dead II believes that Doctor Foster and Ruth had an incestuous affair, and maintains that he was a hypocritical man who despised the community that idolized him.
Macon Dead II’s daughter, whose full name is Magdalene. She recognizes the way her father uses his daughters to make himself look more important, and eventually accuses Milkman of being as heartless as their father.
First Corinthians
Macon Dead II’s daughter, who works as a maid and later lives with Porter. When her college education and family wealth don’t bring her success or a husband, she’s humiliated to be doing manual labor, and looks down on those who are poorer than her family, including Porter.
Robert Smith –
A black insurance agent whose suicide marks the beginning of the novel, and may cause the hospital to allow Ruth to become the first black woman to give birth inside Mercy Hospital.
Pilate’s granddaughter and Reba’s daughter, later a lover of Milkman’s. When Milkman grows tired of her, she falls into depression and self-hatred, and tries and fails repeatedly to kill Milkman.
A janitor, errand-runner, and gossip who works for Macon Dead.
Pilate’s daughter and Hagar’s mother. She supports her family with her preternatural ability to win guessing competitions and raffles, even selling her winnings so that Hagar can buy herself clothes and makeup.
Empire State
An unstable man who joins the Seven Days after his white wife leaves him for another black man.
A gentle, nurturing woman who works as a midwife and later takes care of dogs.
Mrs. Bains
Guitar’s mother.
Henry Porter
A drunken tenant of Macon Dead’s who later courts Corinthians and lives with Corinthians. He also rapes Corinthians the first time they have sex.
The owner of a pool hall who dislikes the Deads.
Railroad Tommy
The co-owner, with Hospital Tommy, of the town barbershop.
Hospital Tommy
The co-owner, with Railroad Tommy, of the town barbershop.
Anna Djvorak
A former patient of Doctor Foster.
Emmett Till
A real-life black teenager who was murdered in Mississippi for allegedly flirting with a white woman.
Winnie Ruth Judd
An insane white woman who killed multiple people and was put in an insane asylum.
Miss Graham
A somewhat successful, somewhat liberal poet, and First Corinthians’s employer.
Miss Graham’s assistant.
A member of the Seven Days along with Guitar.
Reverend Cooper
An old associate of Macon Dead II from Danville, who takes Milkman to the forest where Milkman believes the gold is buried.
Reverend Cooper’s nephew.
Fred Garnett
A man who gives Milkman a ride to Danville.
Mr. Solomon
The owner of a General Store in the town of Shalimar.
An old man in Shalimar who takes Milkman hunting.
Calvin Breakstone
A resident of Shalimar who goes hunting with Milkman.
Small Boy
A resident of Shalimar who goes hunting with Milkman.
Macon Dead I’s wife. When Pilate supposedly speaks to her dead father, she misinterprets “Sing,” and learns to sing for the rest of her life.
A resident of Shalimar who picks a fight with Milkman.
A hunter who refers Milkman to Susan Byrd.
A woman who lives near Susan Byrd.
Grace Long
Slightly obnoxious woman who interrupts Milkman when he visits Susan Byrd.
Crowell Byrd
Susan’s father.
Owner of a beauty shop.
Owner of a beauty shop.
Solomon’s wife. Milkman learns that she fell into deep depression after Solomon left her and flew back to Africa. As with Solomon, there are places named after Ryna, and songs sung about her.
Miss Butler
A white woman and a member of the family that murders Macon Dead I. She later kills herself. Years after Miss Butler’s suicide, Circe cares for her dogs.
In his search after his ancestry, Milkman learns from Susan Byrd that Heddy was Susan Byrd's grandmother. An Indian woman, Heddy also took care of Jake after Jake’s father (Solomon) mysteriously disappeared.