Toni Morrison: A Teaching and Learning Resource Collection

"Song of Solomon": Map and Data

Notes on the map above: 

The map above uses Voyant Tools' "Dreamscape" tool; it is generated by machine learning tools that are trained to recognize locations when they are mentioned in a text. Some modifications were made to the 'seed' text inputed into Voyant Tools to make the map useful. For example, the software tended to read "Macon" as a reference to Macon, Georgia; spelling was modified to disambiguate the two (Macon Dead's father was apparently born in Macon). Also, the many references to a Michigan city were converted to "Detroit" to better highlight the importance of the city in the geography of the novel. 

Mapping is admittedly a little complicated in Morrison's Song of Solomon, since some of the locations in the novel are fictionalized. The Michigan city on Lake Erie where the Dead family live has been thought by readers for many years to be a thinly veiled rendering of Detroit, Michigan. Like Detroit, the city in Morrison's novel has a sizable Black neighborhood (described as "Southside" in the novel): this may correspond to the well-known "Black Bottom" neighborhood that used to exist in Detroit (which was torn down in the 1950s and 60s and now known as Lafayette Park). 

The town of Shalimar (or Solomon), in rural western Virginia, appears to be entirely fictional, and I have made no attempt to approximate it here. Danville, Pennsylvania is a real place, and some of the events in Morrison's novel described there actually resemble events in Morrison's family -- though those took place in Georgia. 


Song of Solomon has 115,793 total words and 8,565 unique word forms. At the time she published it, it was Morrison's longest novel yet.

Vocabulary Density: 0.074
Average Words Per Sentence: 11.5
Most frequent words in the novel: milkman (547); like (459); said (404); know (365); don’t (354)

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