In Song of Solomon Toni Morrison tells a story of one black man's journey toward an understanding of his own identity and his African American roots. This black man, Macon "Milkman" Dead III, transforms throughout the novel from a naïve, egocentric, young man to a self-assured adult with an understanding of the importance of morals and family values. Milkman is born into the burdens of the materialistic values of his father and the weight of a racist society. Over the course of his journey into his family's past he discovers his family's values and ancestry, rids himself of the weight of his father's expectations and society's limitations, and literally learns to fly.
Morrison sets the stage with many explanations for Milkman's unlikable qualities. Milkman's father, Macon Dead Jr., is an aristocratic black businessman. Macon Dead prides himself on his money and his land, believing that it is his wealth that earns him respect and power. Macon Dead is a cold and unfeeling person, having no regard or respect for women or the poor black folk that live in the town that he owns a large part of. Because Macon has no respect for the poor black people of the town he and his family naturally are disconnected from the ongoing racial issues affecting the black society. Where the Dead's live they are more white than they are black.
Now that Morrison has explained the background that Milkman comes from the reader can now understand why Milkman has such personality flaws. Milkman is presented to the reader as someone who has much to learn about life and his personality can now be developed throughout the story. Because of his family Milkman grows into a materialistic young man who has many personality traits in common with his father. He becomes very arrogant, he uses women, and he believes that money will eventually lead him to power and freedom. Ironically, due to his family's wealth and status, he is very disconnected with the black oppression that the...
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