Study Guide

Song of Solomon Part 1, Chapter 8

By Toni Morrison

Part 1, Chapter 8

  • Guitar is dreaming about his next murder. Recently, four black girls were killed in the Birmingham Church bombing, and Guitar is trying to come up with a way to reciprocate the murder. But it’s going to take money. Lots of money.
  • Milkman tells Guitar about the scheme to steal Pilate’s gold and promises that, if they are successful, Guitar will get a third of the wealth. Guitar is on air. He now has a means to make his murder possible.
  • Milkman is skeptical. If Pilate was crazy enough to wait in a cave with a dead man for three days, then she’s probably crazy enough to do anything in her power to protect that money.
  • Guitar thinks stealing the gold from three women who live in a house without locks will be easy as pie.
  • Milkman puts his skepticism aside, because he hasn’t seen Guitar so happy and so playful in a really long time.
  • Guitar begins to talk about all the things he would buy with his share of the gold: brass beds, good meals, a marker for his father’s grave, presents for his nieces and nephews.
  • Milkman dreams of buying things like cars, airplanes, and ships. Then he has a realization: having more money won’t change his life drastically, like it would for Guitar. Milkman already has everything he could want.
  • He then realizes that what he wants more than anything is to get out of town, to go far away from his family.
  • As Guitar and Milkman are laying out their dreams, a white peacock with lots of "jewelry" on its tail lands on a Buick in a used car lot. This is incredibly random. The peacock sends the Buick "into oblivion," and we’re not quite sure what that means. We just know it’s weird that a peacock is hanging out in a used car lot. Symbol much?
  • Milkman continues to be skeptical, and Guitar roars like a lion with frustration. He accuses Milkman of wanting to hoard the money all to himself, and then he points out the fact that Milkman doesn’t really need the money. He tells Milkman to live his life, and this totally wakes Milkman up.
  • Suddenly Milkman feels like the burglary project is real, tangible, and necessary. He feels connected to Guitar and feels like he now has a goal and purpose. They set a date and time.
  • There’s a ginger smell in the air the night Milkman and Guitar set out to steal the gold.
  • They sneak into Pilate’s house. Guitar hoists Milkman toward the ceiling. Milkman severs the green bag from ceiling, and, boom, the boys are out of there with their treasure in no time flat.
  • The only thing is that the bag sighs like a human, Guitar thinks he sees a man standing next to Milkman, and Pilate watches them from the window as they walk away, wondering what the h-e-double hockey sticks they want with that green bag.