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Published: 30-09-2019

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The Establishment of Magical Realism in Song of Solomon

Throughout the course of history, mystical concepts and magical components have been woven into virtually each and every civilization’s culture. From angels and demons to fantastical creatures like unicorns and leprechauns, supernatural beliefs have permeated the songs, stories, and other fundamental elements of quite a few societies throughout history. This characterization is specifically correct in African culture. For thousands of years, indigenous Africans have worshipped a plethora of spirits and Gods-practices that have permitted them to accept seemingly supernatural events into their day-to-day reality. Circumstances such as these have been recorded and documented extensively through art and literature, generating a genre of expression known as magical realism. This approach permits the author to blend realistic narrative with surreal components of the supernatural. Examples of this can be observed throughout Toni Morrison’s novel Song of Solomon. Morrison’s novel follows a young African American man by the name of Milkman Dead as he explores his heritage on an existential journey of self-discovery. All through Song of Solomon, Morrison incorporates magical realism to blur the line in between the supernatural and plausible reality in order to challenge a variety of elements of modern American society’s accepted sensibilities in regard to African Americans.

Morrison starts her transcendence into the world of magical realism as she presents Pilate Dead, Milkman’s aunt, without having a navel. Pilate’s stomach “…was as smooth and sturdy as her back, at no spot interrupted by a navel…there was not yet another stomach on earth like hers,” (Morrison 29). This practically supernatural absence of a navel, a scientific implausibility, sets Pilate apart from her peers. She is the only particular person on earth lacking this function, and she is spurned by society due to the fact of it. Individuals “…froze at the sight of that belly…became limp even…’What are you?’ 1 man had shouted…it isolated her…even a traveling sideshow would have rejected her…” (Morrison 148). Pilate is a individual of tremendous character she is truthful, caring, and sensible-but these information are forgotten when men and women find out that she is various from themselves. Kamal Pradhan, an English literature researcher with Academia, describes Pilate as “…a fearless mother who is selflessly devoted to others…she is responsible for Milkman’s safe birth and continues to safeguard him for years afterward…” (Pradhan 1). He continues to state “Despite these good attributes…she is discriminated against because…she is distinct,” (Pradhan two). It is by means of Pilate and her uninterrupted stomach that Morrison comments on the mistreatment of African Americans throughout history and even in present day America. She presents the reasoning behind Pilate’s isolation, a missing navel, as absurd and unrealistic. This allegorical message extends throughout the novel as racial tension and acts of discrimination are prominent. Morrison is suggesting society hating African Americans primarily based solely on their skin colour is just as irrational as a community isolating an person who was born, via some act of magic, with out a navel. She incorporates magical realism in order to challenge the audience to consider the progress created by their excellent nation in regard to African Americans more than the last couple of decades, because–despite the Civil Rights Movement–many are still struggling for simple equality.

This theme of racial injustice continues as Morrison explores Pilate Dead’s connection with the spiritual world. Although her father died when she was a young girl, Pilate is consistently visited by his ghost. She “…sees him around…guiding…helping,” (Morrison 168-169). It is the Pilate’s ability to accept her father’s spirit that makes it possible for him to visit and assist her. His presence comforts her and guides her by means of troubling instances, and her belief in the supernatural strengthens her connection with the natural globe and her personal self–allowing her to lead a far more sincere, genuine life. Freda Kirkham, author of “Women and Voice in Song of Solomon” states that “…her spirituality…including her connection to her dead father…him speaking to her from the spirit world, telling her to ‘Sing’…defines Pilate as a particular person. She is willing to learn…accepting…and she introduces these close to her to this…connection with this realm…this use of spiritual song,” (Kirkham four-five). Pilate’s open-mindedness and acceptance of the supernatural has led to her capability to live a happy, genuine life–unmarred by the corruption of capitalistic greed and motivation. This in stark contrast with her niece, First Corinthians Dead. Corinthians was raised in component by her father, Macon Dead, who “…behaves like a white man, thinks like a white man…brought his children up like a white man…he’s greedy,” (Morrison 224-226). Throughout her childhood, Corinthians was by no means introduced to the possibility of a supernatural world beyond the a single in which she lives. Alternatively, she was taught the conservative lessons of 1940’s America and is made to stick to the path that is anticipated of her. Corinthians goes to college, and “Her education had taught her how to be an enlightened mother and wife, capable to contribute to the civilization….she believed she was a prize for a skilled man,” (Morrison 188). Corinthians is intelligent and properly educated, but simply because she is unable to connect to the world of supernatural possibilities, she is closed-minded and unable to connect to herself fully and by truly successful and pleased. She “…lacked the drive…no hunger, no hustle,” (Morrison 188). Morrison highlights this contrast among Pilate and Corinthians in order to address the problem of discredited understanding amongst African Americans. All through history, African Americans and their information was frequently disregarded due to the fact it was insinuated that blacks had been morally and intellectually inferior to whites. By comparing Pilate’s innate, supernatural wisdom to Corinthians’ “white…academic knowledge”, which leaves Corinthians completely incapable of dealing with the harsh reality of society, Morrison is employing magical realism in order to exhibit the significance of the understanding African Americans possess (Morrison 187-188). Corinthian’s expertise represents the idealistic vision of white education, but this intelligence leaves her helpless in a globe of unexpectedly challenging realities, whereas Pilate’s seemingly useless wisdom, representative of African American expertise, allows her to thrive.

Magical realism continues to establish itself all through the novel as Morrison incorporates situations of human flight. From the moment Milkman comes into the globe, human flight is accepted as achievable by the community around him. The only person who is skeptical of this supernatural ability is Milkman himself. When “…he found, at four…that only birds and airplanes could fly–he lost all interest in himself. To have to live with out that single gift saddened him and left his imagination so bereft that he appeared dull…” (Morrison 9). As an African American, Milkman is from a culture that regards flight and other surreal events as plausible. Because he is choosing not to believe in his own capacity to fly, he is choosing to ignore an entire aspect of his personal background. Due to the fact he does not accept his heritage in its completion, Milkman feels empty–like …”something is…missing,” (Morrison 159-160). It is only right after his journey of self discovery that Milkman is in a position to accept the culture from which he came and turn into “…so happy…with his eyes and mouth complete of light…laughing, hollering… lastly felt right…” (Morrison 326-327). By way of visiting the town his father and aunt came from and talking to townspeople that knew his grandfather, which includes Circe’s spirit and Mr. Solomon, Milkman is finally in a position to accept himself completely–he realizes that “some people…without ever leaving the ground…could fly…and if you surrendered to the air, you could ride it,” (Morrison 336-337). By accepting an apparently impossible notion such as human flight, and hence come to terms with the background of himself and his ancestors, Milkman is in a position to full his existential journey and find out his complete self. Morrison uses this transformation to highlight the significance of self-acceptance. Throughout her novel, several characters put on a facade in an try to seem as anything they are not. From Hagar’s attempts to seem lighter-skinned to impress Milkman to Macon Dead’s attempts to show off his family members in order to seem pleased, extremely couple of of the individuals in Milkman’s life are genuine. Morrison highlights the significance of self-acceptance by way of Milkman’s transformation in regard to his belief in flight.

As Morrison examines societal issues such as unjust inequality, discredited information amongst African Americans, and self-acceptance, it is effortless to feel disconnected from these troubles. Most of the story is set amongst 1930 and 1960, and the novel was written in 1977, giving the illusion that Morrison’s issues are outdated conflicts of the previous. Even so, her writing style presents this story with a non-linear plot as narration jumps back and forth from past and present. Morrison jumps among time periods in order to recommend that there is no finish to these difficulties, that they will not just resolve themselves with time. These issues are recurring, planting themselves within every time frame of the story as properly as each decade of reality. Toni Morrison utilizes magical realism throughout Song of Solomon in order to draw focus to timeless concerns that are deep-rooted in modern American society.
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