Essay, Research Paper: Song Of Solomon By Toni Morrison

Literature: Toni Morrison

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The book called Song of Solomon, by Toni Morrison, deals with many real life
issues, most of which are illustrated by the relationships between different
family members. One archetypal relationship that Morrison includes in her book
is the father:son relationship. Although it is obvious that Morrison does talk
about this topic, it is not so obvious what she is trying to say about it. So,
one might ask, how does the author establish the father:son relationships
throughout Song of Solomon and do they fit some sort of archetype? To answer a
question such as this, it would be beneficial to examine the actual father:son
relationships throughout the book. One established father:son relationships that
is significant to this issue is the one between Milkman and Macon. From the
start, Macon objected to Milkman even being born; he forced Ruth to do things to
her body that could possibly kill the fetus. With a little help from Pilate,
however, Milkman was allowed into the world. Macon, perhaps instigated by never
having a mother and seeing his own father killed, has always appeared to be a
cold and unforgiving parent even to his other children besides Milkman, but
since Macon heard that his son№s nickname was іMilkmanІ he has
seen him as a symbol of his disgust for his wife and lost a lot of respect for
his son and became even colder towards him. The only time Macon did spend time
with Milkman, he spent it boasting about his own great upbringing, warning him
to stay away from Pilate and telling him about the embarrassing actions of Ruth.
This is the manner in which Morrison establishes the relationship between Macon
and Milkman in the first part of the book. As Milkman grows up, he recognizes
the emotional distance between his father and himself. He goes his own way with
a few skirmishes here and there and later he even manages to hit his own father.
As Macon and Milkman grow apart and go their separate ways, Milkman doesn№t
even think twice about it and just continues on with his life as if nothing was
different. Near the end of the book Milkman seems to change his view of his
father, with some help from the positive memories of the old men in the passage.
Milkman grew up thinking that his father was a cold-hearted, hot tempered
control freak who was only interested in gaining money and property. He came to
realize that although there was some truth to what he thought, Macon was not
inhuman. This is displayed in the passage when it states, іHis own
father№s words came back to him: ЊI worked right alongside my
father. Right alongside him.І Even though Macon was against
Milkman№s birth, he came to cherish his only son in his own way. Probably
under the impression that showing affection was a sign of a weak man, Macon held
back what feelings he had for his son. Milkman№s feelings about his
father№s shows of affection are described when Morrison writes, іMilkman
thought then that his father was boasting of his manliness as a child. Now he
knew he had been saying something else.І One of the few good memories that
Macon had of his father was spending time working alongside his father. Milkman
finally figured out that Macon№s description of his time spent working
with his father were meant to as a show of affection for Milkman and to cause
Milkman to see the similarities between Macon№s relationship with his
father and Milkman№s relationship with Macon. Milkman№s revelation
is explained, іThat he loved his father; had an intimate relationship with
him; that his father loved him, trusted him, and found him worthy of working
Њright alongside№ him.І He most likely remembers gaining a
great amount of respect for his father by learning and watching how his father
made a living. Milkman now saw that all those times that he spent with Macon
down in the workshop and being taught how to run a business were his
father№s mild way of showing love. When Macon would tell Milkman about how
he worked right alongside his father, he wasn№t bragging about how
masculine he was when he was little, he was attempting to describe the only real
time he ever had an intimate relationship with his father. Macon shared what he
had with his father with his son. Milkman now realized that there was some
substance to his relationship with his father and that it wasn№t
completely disfunctional. It is not clear whether Toni Morrison intended this
part of the storyline to fit an archetype, but no matter what she intended, it
does. It is the common story of two related characters who never really
appreciate each other, or do appreciate each other but separate and never really
discover the true value of their relationship with the other character until it
is too late can be found in this book.
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