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And The Children Will Know Their Name: Naming in Song of Solomon Essay

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It is not hidden that Toni Morrison finds names and naming very important in her novel Song of Solomon. Declaring the importance of names from the start, the epigraph to the novel reads “The fathers may soar / and the Children may know their Names” (Morrison). When first reading the novel people may be surprised by the large quantity and obscurity of characters names. Names like “Milkman”, “Guitar” and “Empire State” sound odd and meaningless but as readers explore the novel they see the importance of these name and how they further benefit the story. We see the value of these names in different ways. We see both how other perceive one another through their names as well as how characters see there self through the identity that is their name. Morrison also uses name extensively as a source of symbolism and intertextuality, naming characters after their biblical similarities as well attributes of oneself. Morrison expresses the importance of naming throughout Song of Solomon through characters perception of themselves and one another’s through their name as well as the meaning behind ones name.
Morrison names each character with a reason, using both intertextuality as well as symbolism. Characters such as First Corinthians and Magdalena names come from the bible and are used as further characterization. The two most important biblical character in the novel are Pilate and Hagar. Hagar’s biblical counterpart was a concubine from Genesis. This is a reference to the way she is treated by Milkman, used only for her sex she longs for his love. She is unaware of the meaning of her biblical name unlike Pilate. Pilates name was chosen by her illiterate father by choosing “a group of letters that seemed to him strong and handsome” (18). H...


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... it in her writing. We see her use it as a literary tool through the use of intertextuality in names such as Pilate and Hager to help conveying characters more fully. We also see Morrison appreciation of the power of names in how characters identify themselves and one another. Ultimately Song of Solomon is a story about finding one’s self. Morrison



Works Cited
banes. (n.d.). Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. Retrieved April 11, 2014
Davis, Cynthia A. "Self, Society, and Myth in Toni Morrison's Fiction." Contemporary Literature. 3rd ed. Vol. 23. N.p.: University of Wisconsin, n.d. 323-42. JSTOR. Web. 17 Apr. 2014. .
Dreifus, Claudia. "CHLOE WOFFORD Talks About TONI MORRISON." The New York Times. N.p., 11 Sept. 1994. Web. 10 Apr. 2014.
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Knopf, 1977. Print.



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