The Naming Motif In Song Of Solomon

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The Naming Motif in Song of Solomon Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison is an intricate novel that takes the reader through a journey towards uncovering the past and self-discovery. One of the most important and possibly noticeable themes which tie the novel together is names. Morrison’s use of names as a way of personifying her characters emphasizes the importance of family and knowing ones roots. The most prominent name in Song of Solomon is without a doubt Macon Dead. Passed down from father to son twice, it is the name of three characters, including the protagonist of the story who is referred to as Milkman for the majority of the novel. Before even learning its history, the name itself is immediately perceived as dark and ominous. Then the origin of the name provides an even greater sense of emptiness. When Milkman’s grandfather registered as a freed man in 1869, “the man behind the desk was drunk. He asked [him] where he was born. [He] said Macon. Then he asked him who his father was. [He] said, ‘He’s dead’” (53). The words on his paperwork are mixed up, and thus his name becomes Macon Dead. Consequently, their connection to family is erased, as this change “wipe[s] out the past” (54). Passing a name down to each son brings attention to the importance of fatherhood in this novel. The relationship between Macon I and Macon II compared to Macon II and Milkman is quite different. Macon II tells Milkman “‘I worked right alongside my father. Right alongside him. From the time I was four or five we worked together. Just the two of us” (51). Morrison uses both the repetition of “alongside” and the usage of the words “together” and “us” to create a sense of closeness between the two men. But when his father died, “something wild went through him” (50-1). This could explain the less-than-loving relationship between Macon II and Milkman. Later on in the novel

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