Song of Solomon
by Toni Morrison
Song of Solomon Visions of America Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph)
"South’s bad," Porter said. "Bad. Don’t nothing change in the good old U.S. of A. Bet his daddy got his balls busted off in the Pacific somewhere."
"If they ain’t busted already, them crackers will see to it. Remember them soldiers in 1918?" […] The men began to trade tales of atrocities, first stories they had heard, then those they’d witnessed, and finally the things that had happened to themselves. A litany of personal humiliation, outrage, and anger turned sicklelike back to themselves as humor. They laughed then, uproariously, about the speed with which they had run, the pose they had assumed, the ruse they had invented to escape or decrease some threat to their manliness, their humanness. (1.3.83)
Here we see the barbershop congregants tell personal stories of injustice and intolerance. These hateful acts are no longer framed by the radio, the news, or the television, but are brought home and made immediate to us, the reader. Does anything change in the good old U.S. of A.?
"Where’s the money, the state, the country to finance our justice? You say Jews try their catches in a court. Do we have a court? Is there one courthouse in one city in the country where a jury would convict them? There are places right now where a Negro still can’t testify against a whole man. Where the judge, the jury, the court, are legally bound to ignore anything a Negro has to say. What that means is that a black man is a victim of a crime only when a white man says he is. Only then. If there was anything like or near justice or courts when a cracker kills a Negro, there wouldn’t have to be no Seven Days. But there ain’t; so we are. And we do it without money, without support, without lobbyists, and without illusions!" (1.6.160)
Without courts to render justice, are the Seven Days justified?
The reverend turned around and showed Milkman the knot the size of a walnut that grew behind his ear. "Some of us went to Philly to try and march in an Armistice Day parade. This was after the First World War. We were invited and had a permit, but the people, the white people, didn’t like us being there. They started a fracas. You know, throwing rocks and calling us names. They didn’t care nothing ‘bout the uniform. Anyway, some police on horseback came – to quiet them down, we thought. They ran us down. Right under their horses. This here’s what a hoof can do. Ain’t that something?" (2.10.233)
Milkman, the city boy, seems shocked that no one prosecuted the men who shot his grandfather. As a way of demonstrating how things work in Pennsylvania, Reverend Cooper tells this story of getting trampled by horses when attempting to march in an Armistice Day parade. Philadelphia is where the Constitution of America was penned, and the word "armistice" means "truce." Reverend Cooper’s wound is evidence of both the irony of this experience and of the hypocrisy of American society.