Identity In Toni Morrison's Song Of Solomon

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This paper on Song of Solomon attempts to do a feminist study. It moves away from the predominant critical trend of considering the novel as an exposition on Milkman, the male protagonist; instead it presents how identity is often times connoted differently by black men and women, and how men and women have differential access to cultural narratives of identity. The protagonist Milkman, who initially chases the American Dream of material prosperity, later enjoys the privilege of searching for and understanding the history of his community because he is a man—a process of self-knowledge his society denies to the female members of his family. However, the novel posits other ways of knowing available to the women of his family, especially his…show more content…
Most of the writings on this novel deal with Milkman’s journey to know the history of his community. Critic like A. Leslie Harris considers that Milkman can be compared to the classic mythic heroes. He sees in Milkman heroism like the mythic figures who are powerful and courageous (316). The novel even has been considered a bildungsroman for the male protagonist Milkman’s growing up from an ignorant boy to an aware person of his racial heritage. Cynthia A. Davis in the article “Self, Society, and Myth in Toni Morrison's Fiction” praising Milkman writes that Milkman completes his heroic mission as his life follows the pattern of the classic hero. He has restored the name of their family and recovered their song (333). Milkman’s search for roots is seen as important because this proves his masculinity. Critics who emphasise the deeds of Milkman ignore the role of women in his life. For example, Hogue’s Race, Modernity, Post-modernity also centers round Milkman’s development and…show more content…
It is Pilate’s magical potion that ensures Ruth Milkman’s conception as his father Macon Dead no more shows any interest in Ruth. Moreover he grows up cared by Ruth and Pilate and by the sacrifices made by his sisters Magdalene and Corinthians. He is loved by his cousin Hagar but never considers her seriously. While the women around Milkman shower love on him, his father uses him as a product to increase his earning. His achievement and heroism come about because of the women in his life. But when the critics celebrate Milkman’s success they pay no attention to the role these women play in his life. So even though Milkman is considered the hero, he is totally indifferent towards his family and relatives. Harry Reed writes supporting this view in “Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon and Black Cultural Nationalism” saying: Milkman appears to be very selfish and in this respect not heroic at all. He takes the women’s love for him as a right and exploits his lover Hagar. Hence, though he is the protagonist of the novel, he represents the sexist
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