Study Guide

Macon Dead, Sr. in Song of Solomon

By Toni Morrison

Macon Dead, Sr.

The dreaded Macon Dead is in love with keys, namely, the keys to all of the houses and apartment buildings he owns. If his father-in-law had lent him money back in the day to invest in railroad land, he would be richer than rich. He would never have to worry about another thing in life. But his father-in-law distrusted him, disliked him, and thought he was too good for Macon. And so Macon carries that bitterness around with his keys, bitterness and disgust at having caught his wife kissing the fingers of her dead father the night he died.

Macon likes to bully his wife and keep his daughters from doing anything other than making velvet roses. He likes to make his big house on Not Doctor Street awkward with fear. And, most of all, he likes having a son to run errands for him, making his business all the more dignified.

Macon remembers his childhood well, working on Lincoln’s farm, watching his father’s body writhe on the ground after being shot by white farmers, and roaming around the woods with his little sister until killing a man and discovering gold in cave. We don’t know how Macon gets from this cave to Not Doctor Street but, by the age of 25, he owns property, thus making him an eligible bachelor for the daughter of the first black doctor in the city.