© 2016 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
Song of Solomon

Song of Solomon


by Toni Morrison

Analysis: Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Milkman is the king of the world

With a snazzy nickname, an aunt who makes booze, a best friend who protects him from bullies, a part time job, and a girlfriend with a nice booty, Milkman is pretty much living’ the dream.


Seasons change, leaves turn, the past bites you in the butt…again and again and again.

Milkman is thrown into a pit of baby conflict-rattlesnakes. He keeps getting bitten. Guitar is a murderer. Hagar wants to kill Milkman. Milkman steals from Pilate. Guitar disapproves of Milkman’s lifestyle. Milkman’s mom has shady habits. Lena tells Milkman he’s a loser.


Goldless, shoeless, and hungry

Milkman leaves all of his conflicts behind to forge ahead in search of the remedy to all that is broken: gold. But one shredded suit and lots of bat poop later, Milkman finds his hands are empty, and he no longer has a goal or purpose. Doh.


Milkman feels the love! And the wire around his neck.

He sits smack down in the middle of the Blue Ridge Mountains listening to the hunting party communicate with the dogs as they track the bobcat, and, for some reason, Milkman finds perfect happiness. He is overcome with understanding for the people in his life and feels deep and profound love. Just as he gains this clarity, Guitar slips the wire around his neck, intending to pull the life out of him, taking the life of his best friend.


Sing, sing a song. Make it simple, to last your whole life long.

After a night at Sweet’s, Milkman is feeling’ good, but he is still stumped by his family tree. Then he hears the local children singing a song and playing a game, and inside the song are the names of his ancestors. Eureka! But what does it all mean?


Guitar breaks the rules.

Pilate dies, cradled in Milkman’s arms, having been shot by Guitar on Solomon’s Leap after burying her father’s bones.


Milkman surrenders.

If wishes were horses, we’d feed them carrots every single day. But wishes are not horses, and we don’t really know what happens at the end of this novel. It’s up to us to decide. Check out What’s Up with the Ending? for a little something to chew on, but, really, we just have to surrender to the novel’s ending.

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...