Identity In Toni Morrison's Song Of Solomon

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In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, the theme of identity is present throughout the entire novel. It tells the story of Milkman Dead, a man on a journey to find his own identity. He begins as a greedy, self obsessed boy, and eventually becomes a man who understands himself and where he came from. At the very beginning of the novel, Milkman gets his own identity from vanity and a masculine sense of entitlement. However, on his journey, he experiences a process which allows him to leave behind his false ideas about himself and to adopt healthier attitudes regarding himself and the people around him. His Aunt Pilate has the self-knowledge that Milkman sets out to find, and is the only character who lives her life by letting go of what holds her…show more content…
Morrison suggests that one fully understands their self-identity by letting go of their greed and vanity, as well as recognizing and respecting heritage, ultimately allowing one to “fly”, as Milkman achieved by the end of the novel. Morrison is able to convey her theme of identity through Milkman, revealing that he is immature and shaped by the people around him, and not himself . Without strong parental guidance and honesty Milkman has trouble finding the true identity of himself. The trouble within both Ruth and Macon Jr. reflects negatively upon Milkman, leaving him lost and unfocused. Morrison portrays this conflict in Ruth, "because the fact is that I am a small woman. I don't mean little; I mean small, and I'm small because I was pressed small. (124)" Instead of accepting the problems with their own authenticity, both parents force their false values on Milkman. The needs of both parents result in Milkman's wanting to find his personal identity in other places and other people. Additionally, Milkman takes women and family for granted. He doesn't consider how his actions affect them.…show more content…
The fact that Milkman even wants to leave his home represents the gradual maturation and understanding of his identity and his choice to stray from his father's example and leave town to obtain his inheritance and to become a self-defined man. He realizes when he needs to leave when he is on a plane, flying above the land, looking at his life in the ‘big picture’: “In the air, away from real life, he felt free, but on the ground, when he talked to Guitar just before he left, the wings of all those other people’s nightmares flapped in his face and constrained them. Lena’s anger, Corinthian’s loose and uncombed hair, matching her slack lips, Ruth’s stepped up surveillance, his father’s bottomless greed, Hagar’s hollow eyes–he did not know whether he deserved any of that, but he was fed up and he knew he was fed up and he knew he had to leave quickly”(220-221). Morrison suggests that flying makes Milkman ponder his decisions and clear his mind, as well as “[feel] free” which equates to letting go of what keeps him tied down: Lena, Corinthians, Hagar, Ruth, Macon Jr., and Guitar. Although Milkman is unsure whether he deserves the weight of his family, he is sure that he needs to escape it by leaving and literally flying away, which signals his yearning for independence and weightlessness. The uncaring way he speaks

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