Milkman's Journey South

Topics: Emotion, Jacques Lacan, Death Pages: 3 (876 words) Published: November 3, 2005
Justin Choi

Song of Solomon – Milkman's Trip to the South

In Song of Solomon, Morrison spends the entirety of Part I to establish the status quo, only to overturn it through Milkman's epiphany. Morrison describes the lack of emotions in the Dead family and Milkman's lack of spiritual growth, and goes on to introduce recurring symbols such as that of flight as a means of escape, song, and gold. In incorporating these elements and showing how they relate to Milkman's journey in the second part, Morrison establishes the classic example of a bildungsroman. The term, originally from Germany, translates to "novel of formation," an effective way of describing Milkman's story. In sending Milkman to the South, Morrison not only completes the book as a bildungsroman, but also as an archetypal quest.

From the beginning of the novel, Morrison associates the pinnacle of spiritual growth and understanding with flying; thus, to complete the story Milkman would need to spread his wings and soar. In this sense, Chapter 11 marks an essential series of events that trigger Milkman's maturation. Down South, Milkman is completely exposed—Macon Jr. is not there as a safety net in case something goes wrong. As the bar fight exemplifies, the power and control Macon Jr. wields is not present with Milkman. For the first time, Macon Jr.'s influence does not precede Milkman. And thus, the Southerners are eager to pick a fight with Milkman. Suddenly finding his rich upbringing to be a handicap, Milkman must strip himself of the self-praise and self-pity that were integral components of his childhood. By joining the hunt and changing out of his expensive clothes, Milkman marks his transformation into an adult. He finally casts off his rich upbringing of the past.

Milkman realizes that, for once, his affluent background serves as a disadvantage after the incident with Saul. From this experience, he learns that he cannot continue avoid issues that pose as...
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