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The Core Curriculum

Core Readings: Lit Hum Instructor Farah Griffin reads Toni Morrison

1977 CE
Relates to: 


Song of Solomon’s protagonist, Macon Dead III — aka “Milkman” — is the feckless and self-satisfied son of an unscrupulous tenement manager in an un-named Michigan city. 

Raised in privilege by a doting mother and two older sisters, Milkman holds himself apart from the African-American community to which his family and friends belong.   Aside from the occasional sexual adventure, he has little interest in anything and least of all in the dawning Civil Rights Movement or the history of his people’s struggle. 

Until, that is, he catches wind of his family’s lost gold.  Then, setting off on a journey through the Northeast and South, Milkman ultimately discovers something much more valuable. 

In her readings, Farah Griffin focuses on three important moments in Milkman’s personal transformation. 


Chapter 9. Milkman’s sister Lena upbraids him for the way he treats his sisters, mother and women in general. 

Chapter 10. On a visit to his grandfather’s farm in Pennsylvania, Milkman basks in the attention of older men who recall Macon Dead I’s virtuosity as a farmer (and the terrible fate that befell him). 

Chapter 11.  While on a hunting trip with other African-American men near the Dead ancestral home in Virginia, Milkman dwells on his sense of isolation and has a life-changing epiphany. 

(21 mins)