Song of Solomon
How we cite our quotes:
Four graceful columns supported the portico, and the huge double door featured a heavy, brass knocker. He lifted it and let it fall; the sound was soaked up like a single raindrop in cotton. Nothing stirred. He looked back down the path and saw the green maw out of which he had come, a greenish-black tunnel, the end of which was nowhere in sight. (2.10.238)
Everything around Milkman at this moment is unfamiliar – what lies behind him and what lies ahead of him. He has never been in this situation before. At home, he knows every corner of Not Doctor Street and Southside, but here he is on his own.
He should have pulled a stick to check depth before he put his foot down, but his excitement had been too great. He went on, feeling with his toes for firm footing before he put his weight down. It was slow moving – the water was about two or three feet deep and some twelve yards wide. (2.10.249)
Milkman lets his excitement get in the way of his good sense. In his haste to get to the gold, he underestimates nature’s power and difficulty. He isn’t trying to learn the terrain or learn from the terrain, but is anxious just to use it in the service of getting him to the cave.
Milkman became agile, pulling himself up the rock face, digging his knees into crevices, searching with his fingers for solid earth patches or ledges of stone. He left off thinking and let his body do the work. (2.10.251)
FINALLY, Milkman gets the picture and learns to work with the landscape and not against it. Instead of focusing his mind on the gold, he is concerned with the process of getting there. He’s learning to be diligent.