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Themes

In this novel, women are those left behind. We see them trapped in their marriages and in their societal niches, crushed by the heavy burden of survival. While men are associated with flying and fleeing, women are associated with groundedness and earthliness. We see them brought to madness at the loss of their lovers and husbands, and we see the anguish that comes when they are denied sexual love and sexual expression. Women in Song of Solomon are obsessive in their love of the men in their lives, relying on these partners as representation of "home" or of a safe place. The only women capable of living independently, without men, are those who have been marginalized by society. Therefore, we understand the relationship between women and men in the novel as inextricably linked to the way in which we understand the society in which they live.

Questions About Women and Femininity

  1. What kinds of women do we meet in this novel?
  2. When Milkman asks Guitar why he worries about black women, Guitar responds, "because she’s mine" (2.10.223). What does he mean when he says this?
  3. What does Guitar mean when he says that Hagar needs a "chorus of mamas" (2.13.307)?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Women are left behind in Song of Solomon.

Women are peripheral in this novel.

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