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Essay on the American Dream Revised in Song of Solomon

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The American Dream Revised in Song of Solomon

 
   America was founded on the belief that "all men are created equal." However, a question must be posed which asks who constitutes "men" and what is "equal"?  Africans were taken from their country and enslaved in America. They had to fight to retain dignity and grace in circumstances that were deplorable. Even slaves who were well taken care of were not able to realize the dream of being free again.

 

In her work, Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison relates a story of the dream of Milkman.  Although he is not a slave, Milkman is enslaved by the fact that as a child, he was forced to participate in a shameful act that he wanted no part of. Even his nickname was derived from this horrific act: 

 

When he came into the little room she unbuttoned her blouse and smiled. He was too young to be dazzled by her nipples, but he was old enough to be bored by the flat taste of mother's milk, so he came reluctantly, as to a chore, and lay as he had at least once each day of his life in his mother's arms, and tried to pull the thin, faintly sweet mild from her flesh without hurting her with his teeth. (13)

 

This act embarrassed Ruth and Macon Jr. because he was never able to shake the nickname and it did not improve either one's relationship with his father. Milkman could not control the whims of his mother though he suspected the act was wrong. Macon did not respect his son's voice as seen when Milkman strikes his father for striking his mother. Milkman does not want to hear Macon's explanations for his behavior and is appalled that Macon insists on describing the indiscriminant nature of Ruth's attachment to her father as the excuse for Milkman's father's treatment...


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...m is not an open invitation to Africans like it is to other immigrant groups. They are not voluntary participants in American society; therefore, they must settle for less than others have to. They must fight twice as hard to have half as much as others.

 

Works Cited:

De Arman, Charles. "Milkman as the Archetypal Hero." Obsidian: Black Literature in Review 6.3 (1980): 56-59.

Moraru, Christian. "Reading the Onomastic Text: 'The politics of the Proper Name' in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon." Names: A Journal of Onomastics. 44.3 (1996): 189-204.

Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: The Penguin Group, 1977.

Peterson, Nancy J. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.

Storhoff, Gary. "'Anaconda Love': Parental Enmeshment in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon." Style 31.2 (1997): 290-309.

 


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