Song of Solomon
Toni Morrison begins her novel Song of Solomon in a very unusual way that puts the reader in a state of confusion and wonder. She does not start out like most authors by introducing characters and the setting. For the most part, the first couple of chapters were incomprehensible, but were later understood as the reader continued on. Some of the main and most engaging themes in the book were about naming and flight.
Toni Morrison explores the connection between names and identity. Naming is used throughout the book as a form of symbolism for the characters as well as places. Names show the effect of both oppression and liberation. The importance of names of places is expressed through the “Not Doctor Street.” This street is officially labeled Mains Avenue, but it had the nickname of “Doctor Street” when Dr. Foster lived there. However, after he died the popular nickname then changed to “Not Doctor Street” which shows how peculiar these characters were because the name of the street was important to them. In Milkman’s case, searching for identity is equivalent to searching for his name. The importance of names and naming for Morrison's characters lies in a name's ability to uncover hidden truths about personal identity. Throughout Morrison’s novel the reader encounters many peculiar yet informative names or nicknames. The most familiar nickname in the novel would be the nickname given to Milkman. We first see Milkman as a child sucking on his mother’s breast, “too young to be dazzled by her nipples, but…old enough to be bored by the flat taste of mother’s milk” (Morrison 13). He is given the nickname “Milkman” after Freddie, the town gossiper, discovers him feeding from his mother’s breast when he is no longer a baby. Freddie spreads the gossip and this becomes Macon’s new name all throughout the town. Another interesting fact about the names in the book is Macon and his father’s last name, “Dead”. Their last...
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