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In America there is a systematic structure that is portrayed by the White Male patriarchy that authorizes black males to transact the way they act, speak, think and live like men. Nonetheless, the actuality of race and the absence of racial diversity hinders a black male’s capability to progress into manhood. Being so the black male is left to continuously battle for an identity, for apprehending who he is rather than who he is being visualized as. “Song Of Solomon” by Toni Morrison is a coming of age story that focus on the primary protagonist Milkman Dead and his journey from birth to adulthood.
A major theme within Song Of Solomon is milkman’s quest for identity as a black man and his journey also act like a key for his spiritual identity, connecting him to his past while incorporating the present and emerging him to self discovery.Song Of Solomon in a multitude of ways traces the coming of age of Milkman Dead, it begins with a civilian named Robert Smith jumping off the roof of Mercy Hospital. “When the little boy discovered, at four….”
After the fall of Robert Smith milkman dead is born, however just like robert smith milkman’s desire is to escape his life through flight.“ But it lacked coherence, a coming together of the features into a total self ”. Milkman at a young age was characterized as an odd and dead (emotionally) child who seemed to lack when it came to personality, he grows up not knowing who he is when he looks at himself in the mirror, all he sees is an incomplete being. Milkman adult hood was backtracked and as the only son of an upper-middle-class family, milkman also resists the sense of interconnection and devotion to others that are required of adults.
Milkman is a mirrored image of his father Macon Dead, he persistently tries to manage milkman, and prevents him from becoming independent not noticing that milkman is in a flux and is trapped within the context of his own life. In the novel the white peacock is mentioned the white peacock symbolizes milkman and how he cannot take flight in the beginning and is weighed down by jewelry, that jewelry represents how milkman is privileged and has the wealth of a white man which is all because of his father and because of that it impedes milkman from being able to fly and understand himself.“ I don’t want to be my old man’s office boy no more…”.
Milkman values materialistic things like his father, he becomes very arrogant and has the mentality that money is the gateway to freedom and power, however he felt as if everyone was using him, making him the subject of their own needs. Milkman slowly starts to understand this and realizes that he needs to be his own man, he needs to be an independent man.“ Who are you to approve or disapprove anybody or anything…”.
After years of an unreleased antipathy Magdalena confronts Milkman to look out the window at a dying maple tree, lena speaks to him about all of his flaws. This symbolizes how milkman has never done a thing for anyone in his entire life and yet people have sacrificed so much for him and the peeing escapade has completely ruined his sister’s lives, which then makes milkman’s personality/identity shift and he realizes that he needs to change within himself. Milkman has been reborn and an important aspect to his rebirth is the responsibility he took for hagar’s death, milkman has only taken advantage of women during his youth and has seen them as nothing but objects and taking that responsibility is unlike his old self which symbolizes how he has let his old self go.
Upon arriving to the Shalimar, it was a different experience in a social/racial aspect, “ By the time he bought the car, his moral had soard and he was….” (260). This focuses on milkmans perspective on people from the south and how they differentiate from the people in virginia. Everything that milkman has ever represented in the north was obsolete in the south,” There was nothing here to help him….”. The reality is that all his wealth doesn’t necessarily mean anything in the south, it does not benefit him but slowly milkman starts to divest his old self including his gold watch, fancy expensive suit, and money. Milkman desired the gold, he thought that finding the gold would reveal his inner true self and realize who he is. However it is not the gold that would truly change who he really is, it’s the journey to the gold while unraveling the truth about his ancestor’s.
The quest for gold had amended him and had proved how much of a man he had become, milkman acknowledges what empathy, and disclosure means because of this journey. For the first moment in milkman’s life he has cared about something other than himself, even though he did not find the gold in Danville he was intrigued by his family’s history and being in Shalimar where his grandfather was born and that gave milkman the reality check he needed. The broader point is that financial independence isn’t “flight” it is more of a psychological form of imprisonment
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