Song of Solomon
How we cite our quotes:
Her passions were narrow but deep. Long deprived of sex, long dependent on self-manipulation, she saw her son’s imminent death as the annihilation of the last occasion she had been made love to. (1.5.134)
Is anyone else just a little weirded out that the crux of Ruth’s concern for Milkman’s life is the fact that he represents to her the last time she got busy? This woman is deprived. And even though the word "love" appears in this passage, we just can’t detect love in anything that it refers to: was love really present when she and Macon conceived Milkman? And is real, true love the impetus for trying to prevent her son’s death? "Love" is used over and over, but do we ever catch a glimpse of real true love?
"There’s no love in it."
"No love? No love? Didn’t you hear me? What I’m doing ain’t about hating white people. It’s about loving us. About loving you. My whole life is love." (1.6.159)
Guitar can’t have friends. He can’t get married. He can’t drink. He can’t go out. He can’t talk to strangers. He has to live a cloistered life. He kills in the name of love, but doesn’t tell anyone about the lengths he is going to in the name of this love. Is this real, true, unselfish love?
"And black women, they want your whole self. Love, they call it, and understanding. ‘Why don’t you understand me?’ What they mean is, Don’t love anything on earth except me. They say, ‘Be responsible,’ but what they mean is, Don’t go anywhere where I ain’t. You try to climb Mount Everest, they’ll tie up your ropes. Tell them you want to go to the bottom of the sea—just for a look—they’ll hide your oxygen tank. […] You blow your lungs out on the horn and they want what breath you got left to hear about how you love them. They want your full attention. Take a risk and they say you not for real. That you don’t love them." (2.10.223)
Guitar slices open the overcrazy, graveyard love that we see so many women afflicted with in Song. Again the theme of possession, control, and ownership comes up. But do we ever see a woman in the universe of this novel pull these kind of ultimatums and power plays on her man? Do we ever see a woman try to control a man in this way?