Critical Essay on 'Song of Solomon' by Toni Morrison

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  4
Wordcount:  930 Words
Date:  2022-10-17


Toni Morrison in her novel, 'Song of Solomon' presents Macon Dead II, nicknamed 'Milkman' as a symbolic character. Milkman nickname was adopted because he nursed his mother. Milkman craves to discover where he fits in the world and find himself. By him getting rid of his problems he trusts that he will be able. Therefore, through his endeavor to learn to fly, he learns a lot more about himself and the world in general. The family has an effect on every person, no matter how they feel towards them. Milkman has been portrayed as spiritually shallow, vain and childish character. He had prolonged his boyhoods for thirty-one years. Milkman attempts to make amends for the wrongs he has done and also give Pilate closure on her story.

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At the start of the novel, Milkman was a callow, selfish ma, eager to do almost anything to attain independence from his family, into a deeply ethical, selfless man who is almost completely indifferent to material things. In part II of the novel, Milkman goes on a physical and sentimental journey and makes a substantial change. While in Shalimar, Milkman learns that "one of his forefathers, Solomon, went back to Africa and attempted to take Jake, Milkman's grandfather, with him and later thought against the idea" (Morrison, 134). Solomon was a slave and like Milkman, though he could not endure without his equitable liberty. To attain this liberty, he goes back to Africa, his fatherland. Milkman is more like his forefather, Solomon, in the context that he was pursuing freedom and just desired to go where he felt he belonged. Milkman was eager to leave every person behind including women who love him, to attain his freedom (Beaulieu, 104).

Throughout the novel, Morrison stresses the necessity of people caring for and remaining associated with the African American society. Though much of the novel emphasizes Milkman's search for identity, paralleling the conventional heroic quest, the significance of his voyage lies not in his establishment of distinct, individual identity, but instead in his discovery of an irrefutable connection between his individualism and the greater black society. The author's adaptation of the quest myth varies markedly from Western favoring of individualism over communal obligation. The novel does not appreciate Milkman as the craggy individualist, as do most epics about heroic quests. Importantly, it can be argued that it is not until Milkman loses his irresistible selfishness that he learns about his familial culture and makes amends with those in the African American society whom he had hurt that he becomes a hero (Scott and Franklin, 56).

Milkman gives Pilate closure on her story. Both Milkman and Pilate can control almost any person but appear to be affected by no one. However, Milkman has a strong influence on others. Pilate and Milkman have different ways of influencing others. Pilate possesses the influence over others through sympathy while Milkman possesses his influence through indifference. Morrison illustrates that Pilate attains 'deep concern for and about human relationships' (Morrison, 134). It is with her concern that she is able to link with others as a 'natural healer' (Morrison, 133), and it is this concern that grants Pilate the power to overcome Reba's boyfriend and Macon Jr. Milkman. Milkman does not care about Hagar's feelings and eventually breaks off his long relationship through an insensitive letter. During his transformation, Milkman begins to influence other into becoming better individuals. He becomes more empathetic to his sisters and towards the rest of the black community. Pilate is the only woman in the narrative who is not reliant on a man. She is also free from the control of cultural traditions, which grants her an eccentric character. In her younger days, Pilate shed 'every assumption she had learned' and now only focuses on what gives her joy and value.

In Pilate's case, rage does not result in revenge against Milkman after the death of her granddaughter, Hagar. She understands that Milkman has returned for his search for gold to make amends for what he has done. While Plate many not completely comprehend the needs of others, she is a natural healer. The author depicts Milkman running away from Ruth and Macon Jr. to Pilate. Pilate's name connects her to nature, "he.. chose a group of letters that appeared to him strong and handsome; saw in them a strong and handsome; saw in them a huge figure that appeared like a tree hanging in some princely and protective way." (Morrison, 152) The author presents this aspect to show Pilate eventually became the protector and guide to Milkman. To come in terms with Milkman, Pilate is depicted to have a desire for making peace between her and Milkman.


Conclusively, Morrison focus is on the arrogance that differentiates black people from each other. One of the casualties of Milkman's vain detachment is Pilate's granddaughter, Hagar. He informally breaks up their relationship without regarding her desperate requirement for him. Hagar dies, it appears, from a broken heart and Pilate understands that it is Milkman's fault. Milkman gave Pilate a reason to have closure in her narrative. Pilate is described to have held on reinforcing her connection with her brother (Milkman) and exemplified her commitment to her family relations. Pilate would have moved on except that her brother's wife was dying and needed to be shown some love.

Works Cited

Beaulieu, Elizabeth A. The Toni Morrison Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2003. Internet resource.

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. , 2014. Vintage Digital. Internet resource.

Scott, Jacqueline, and Franklin, Todd. Critical Affinities: Nietzsche and African American Thought. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2006. Internet resource.

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Critical Essay on 'Song of Solomon' by Toni Morrison. (2022, Oct 17). Retrieved from

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