Study Guide

Song of Solomon Part 2, Chapter 11

By Toni Morrison

Part 2, Chapter 11

  • After traipsing all throughout a random Virginian town, looking for a town that sounds like Charlemagne, he finally catches wind of a place known as Shalimar.
  • Milkman buys a car for $75, but it breaks down before he can get out of town.
  • He’s beginning to like his newfound independence, cruising the Virginian backwoods without anyone to tell him what to do. He is learning how to be generous, how to interact with strangers, and the strangers he’s meeting are so nice! Life is good.
  • But then his fan belt breaks. Lady Luck, however, has a plan. Milkman finds himself in front of Solomon’s General Store, which is, wouldn’t you know, right in the very heart of Shalimar, Virginia. Though you’d never know that this was Shalimar, Virginia, because there is only a general store.
  • Milkman orders a beer, but it’s Sunday and not Beerday. Wooeee, these Virginian prices! Seven whole cents for a bottle of Cherry Smash?
  • Solomon, the store owner, is curious about what Milkman is doing in Shalimar, suggests that one of the locals might be able to fix his fan belt, and tells Milkman that a man passed through looking for him earlier that day.
  • Someone is looking for Milkman in Shalimar, Virginia? Solomon tells him that that certain someone left a message to the tune of, "Good luck, your day has come."
  • Guitar! That’s so creepy, and Milkman thinks so too.
  • Milkman needs a breather. He goes out to the general store porch, takes in the sights and sounds of Shalimar. These include ladies and children singing nursery rhymes, the likes of which send him down memory lane. He thinks about the fact that he never got to play games like Double Dutch or Ring Around the Rosy when he was little.
  • Things go downhill in the next few moments. Milkman has to go and tell his new Shalimar friends that the local ladies are fine. And then he asks where he can find a Marriot. Oh boy, this man sure doesn’t know how to adapt to new places, does he?
  • Milkman gets into a knife fight over the comment about the ladies. Everyone comes to watch Milkman fight with a broken bottle. His opponent slices his cheek, his left hand, and his pretty beige suit. Just when Milkman’s about to really get his butt kicked, some ladies start yelling for the fight to stop, which it eventually does.
  • Frustrated and cut up, Milkman slumps down on the front porch of the store, only to be invited to go hunting by some older gentlemen.
  • He wholeheartedly accepts, and then takes a siesta in his car.
  • The hunting party outfits Milkman with army fatigues, good boots, and Falstaff beer.
  • The men drive deeper into the mountains, and Milkman thinks he sees headlights in the rearview mirror. Is someone following them?
  • The dogs are let loose. Apparently Becky the dog is the best hunter in the world, because everyone gets excited when they realize she is part of the party.
  • The men split up, and Milkman gets to go with the nice one, Calvin.
  • After a relentless trek through the mountain wilds, Milkman starts to get more and more tired.
  • The dogs are searching for something. The men communicate with the dogs through various sounds, and they catch the scent of a bobcat.
  • It is pitch-black and Milkman can’t see a thing. He can hear someone weeping though. It’s just the wind blowing through Ryna’s gulch, though.
  • Finally, Milkman takes a load off by a tree, losing sight of Calvin, who’s far ahead. Just as he’s settling down in a dreamy state, thinking about all the people in his life, and finally getting some good "dear diary" reflection done, someone startles him and wraps a wire around his neck.
  • Just before he’s about to die, his life flashes before his very eyes, and guess what it shows him? Hagar. He sees Hagar bending over him, and it feels like love. Just when he’s about to give up the ghost, he remembers he has a gun.
  • He grabs his gun, shoots it behind him, and his attacker (Guitar) goes off running.
  • Milkman is shaken, but he eventually meets up with his fellow hunters who have cornered a bobcat in a tree. They shoot the bobcat down from the tree.
  • The skinning of a bobcat is totally fascinating, so we suggest you take a good look at this part of this chapter.
  • The men ask Milkman why he fired his shotgun, and Milkman tells them he was scared. This sends his new best friends into uproarious laughter. Milkman has grown on them like moss on a tree, and they even let him take the precious, sacred heart out of the bobcat.
  • Omar, the head of the hunting party, tells Milkman about a lady of the night who would take him in and give him a place to stay. He also gives Milkman the name of a woman who might know his people.
  • Milkman heads straight for the lady of the night’s house. Her name is Sweet and she does all kind of things for Milkman that we won’t mention here. But the point is that Milkman finds a little bit of heaven.