Song of Solomon

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Song of Solomon Part 1, Chapter 8 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Guitar thinks about the four black girls who were blown up in a church. To avenge this atrocity, he will need explosives or guns. Milkman approaches him with a plan to steal gold, so Guitar eagerly agrees to help him, thinking that he’ll be able to use the gold to finance his revenge group, called Seven Days. Milkman and Guitar will steal the gold and split it three ways, leaving a share for Macon. Macon thinks that he and his son will split the gold down the middle, but Milkman says that he’ll tell Macon about Guitar later. Since he believes the gold is in Pilate’s house, Milkman is worried that Hagar might use a gun to protect the gold, but Guitar points out that she’s been trying to kill him for half a year and hasn’t gotten a gun yet.
The murders Morrison alludes to are real (Martin Luther King Jr. made a famous speech about the four girls). As the crimes against black people become increasingly despicable, the revenge Guitar seeks becomes increasingly despicable as well. White racism is making him a more and more dangerous criminal; indeed, it’s making him into the kind of demonic black law-breaker that white racists use as a justification for their own behavior. The name of Guitar’s group, Seven Days, reflects the Old Testament and its eye-for-an-eye ethos, which was overturned by Christ in the New Testament.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Mercy and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Guitar and Milkman try to think of a way to get Reba, Pilate, and Hagar out of the house while they steal the gold. While they’re talking, they see a beautiful white peacock, which can’t fly because its feathers are too heavy. Guitar calls the bird a “white faggot.” Ignoring the bird, Guitar and Milkman talk about what they’ll be able to buy with their gold. Guitar wants gifts for his family; Milkman wants vehicles for himself, such as boats, cars, and airplanes. Milkman thinks that Guitar can’t resist money because he’s never had any, but the narrator notes that Guitar is actually thinking of buying TNT.
The white peacock that appears while Guitar and Milkman symbolizes different things at the same time. Guitar sees it as the symbol of the weak, effeminate white people he will murder. Yet one could also say that the white peacock represents Milkman, whose wealth doesn’t help him fly, but rather keeps him grounded and depressed.
Themes
Racism Theme Icon
Masculinity and Femininity Theme Icon
Mercy and Forgiveness Theme Icon
Guitar wants to run into the house and steal the gold, while Milkman wants to get the three women out of the house first. But because neither one of them can think of a way to empty the house, they ultimately decide to sneak in at 1:30 AM, while the women are sleeping. They find the sack hanging from the ceiling, which is hung by wire, and cut it down, making a great amount of noise in the process. As Guitar helps Milkman, he thinks he sees a man standing behind Milkman. Together, Guitar and Milkman quickly run out of the house. At they go, Pilate looks after them and wonders why they’d want her sack.
It’s clear enough why Milkman wants Hagar, Reba, and Pilate out of the house — even if he’s stealing from them, he can’t bear for them to see him betray them, especially after everything Pilate has done for him. This section is arguably the funniest in Song of Solomon — Pilate doesn’t get why they’d want her sack, and we sense (as we have for a while now but these men blinded by gold have not) that the sack isn’t full of gold.
Themes
Mercy and Forgiveness Theme Icon