Song of Solomon : Chapter 12
Summary of Chapter Twelve
Milkman visits Susan Byrd and asks about his grandmother, Sing. Susan tells him about a woman called Sing Byrd, but Milkman can make no sense of it. He runs into Guitar and has an argument with him. Guitar saw Milkman help someone lift boxes at the bus station in Danville and assumed it was the gold that Milkman shipped to Virginia. He wants it. He is going to kill Milkman, he says.
Milkman stays with Sweet at night and dreams of flying. During the day he overhears children in their play, chanting a rhyme that tells the story of his family, as he figures out after listening several times. It helps him unravel the pieces of the puzzle. The longer Milkman stays in town, the more empathy he gains and understanding for his family members. He feels regret for Hagar.
Commentary on Chapter Twelve
Milkman's humanization is parallel to Guitar's decline as a person. Hate and illusions have eaten him up to the point he could kill a friend. No matter how much Milkman explains about the gold, Guitar cannot hear him. Milkman is open to what comes to him in this environment, including the cryptic song sung by children that contains his family story. The verses are repeated over and over in the next chapters as Milkman has revelations and gets neighbors to tell him things. This is now more important to him than gold.