The Song of Solomon Socratic Seminar will help to prepare your for your Song of Solomon Literary Analysis essay, which will require you to conduct research to support your claims about the novel. It may be helpful to look at the essay prompts prior to the seminar so that you can start forming ideas.
Directions: Each of the questions below has an assigned point value. You must answer every part of the question to earn all of the points. Select which questions you would like to answer, but make sure the point values add up to a minimum of 100. On your answer sheet, please write down the total amount of points the question is worth before answering it.
Morrison draws heavily upon biblical imagery in Song of Solomon Part I. Make sure you know all of the following biblical allusions. Look up the ones you do not know and take notes only on the ones you do not know so you can remember them. Just get the general overview and don’t allow yourself to get bogged down with the details. Why does Morrison draw upon biblical allusions in Part I of Song of Solomon? How does she use the biblical allusions? In other words, what literary function do these allusions play? To what extent does she use them literally, ironically, playfully, etc.? How do they contribute meaning to the novel so far? – 40 points
- Story of Ruth
- Story of Hagar (start with chapter 16)
- Book of Song of Solomon
- Story of Pilate (Also in Luke, Mark, and Matthew)
- Story of Mary Magdalene
- Book of First Corinthians and Second Corinthians in the New Testament: historical context and special attention to the First Corinthians Chapter 13 which is often known as the love chapter
- It may also be helpful to read through The Book of Proverbs, many of which are attributed to King Solomon.
One of the most difficult passages to understand in Part I is Guitar and Milkman’s conversation about tea, eggs, and geography in chapter five. What are Milkman and Guitar really talking about? What is the tone of each line? When does it shift? Why? What does this conversation reveal about each character’s beliefs? How does this conversation contribute to the meaning of the book as a whole? –30 points
What is the relationship between whites and blacks in Song of Solomon? What does the novel reveal about Morrison’s attitude toward race problems? –30 Points
In Part I of Song of Solomon, Morrison creates distinctly different kinds of black men in Macon Dead Senior, Dr. Foster (Ruth’s father), Macon Dead Junior, Milkman Dead, and Guitar Bains. What does each man represent about black manhood? What drives each man? What are their desires? What is at the root of their conflict with themselves, with each other, with the world? Provide supporting quotes. –20 Points
In Part I of Song of Solomon, Morrison creates distinctly different kinds of black women in Ruth Dead, Pilate Dead, Hagar, Reba, Lena, and Corinthians. What does each woman represent about black womanhood? What drives each woman? What are their hopes and dreams? What is at the root of their conflict with themselves, with each other, with the world? Provide supporting quotes. –20 Points
How does poorness influence participation in the Seven Days? Though the group is motivated by racism rather than economic injustice, why are all its members poor? –20 Points
How is the relationship between love for an individual and love for an ideology explored in the novel? What are the similarities and differences between Hagar’s and Guitar’s expressions of love? –20 Points
How do physical abnormalities represent the personality traits of the novel’s characters? Does Pilate’s lack of a navel have the same effect on her as Milkman’s undersized leg has on him? –20 Points
How does Song of Solomon provoke readers to reexamine racial identity? Use textual evidence. –15 Points
When Milkman returns home at the end of the novel, after Pilate locks him away in the cellar, he arrives at his house with only a box full of Hagar’s hair and “almost none of the things he’d taken with him.” How are we meant to feel about materialism after reading this book? Use textual evidence in a well-developed paragraph. –10 Points
What is the ideological agenda embedded in the novel? Use textual evidence in a well-developed paragraph. –10 Points
What is the significance of the ginger smell in the novel? Use textual evidence in a well-developed paragraph. –5 Points