An Analysis of the Revolt of Black People in Song of Solomon Based on Bakhtin’s Carnival Theory

Yijia CAO


This paper aims to analyze the rebellious acts of black people on the basis of Bakhtin’s carnival theory. The world in Song of Solomon is put into a carnival world. According to Bakhtin’s carnival theory, the carnival square, carnival activities and the carnival spirits are fundamental elements for a carnival festival. The town where black people live is the carnival square. It has the characteristics of wide covering range of people, duality and irony, and most of the rebellious acts happen here. Carnival activities are expressed through acts of resistance. There are two main carnival acts of revolt in this book. The first is the decrowning of Macon Dead and the crowning of Guitar, both of which signify the rebellion of black community against internal and external oppression. The second act is the carnival death of Robert Smith. The death of Robert Smith leads to the birth of Milkman, the one who finds out the mystery of flying African. The final results of black people’s rebel are the subversion of fantasy and reconstruction of family link. In the end, black people eventually find the very path towards change and new life.


Song of Solomon; Carnival Theory; Bakhtin; revolt; black people

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Bakhtin, M. (1989). Problems of Dostoevsky’s Poetics. Trans. Caryl Emerson. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Jones, C. M. (1988). Southern Landscape as Psychic Landscape in Toni Morrison’s Fiction. Studies in the literary Imagination 31.2: 37-48.

Lee, C. C. (1988) The South in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon: Initiation, Healing, and Home. Studies in the Literary Imagination 31.2: 109-23.

Morrison, T. (1977). Song of Solomon. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc.



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