Essay on Identity in Song of Solomon

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Searching for Identity in Song of Solomon

      Abstract: Whether Africans really fly or just escape a monumental burden, perhaps only through death, is a decision Toni Morrison has apparently left to her readers. Never the less, no matter what you believe, within Song of Solomon, the suggestion is, that in order to "fly" you must go back to the beginning, back to your roots. You must learn the "art" from the old messages.


O Sugarman done fly away

Sugarman done gone

Sugarman cut across the sky

Sugarman gone home... (6)1


Milkman was born to fly. Perhaps not! Maybe, he was just doomed to a life of flight. Toni Morrison seemingly presents her readers a choice. Milkman is born under a paradoxical cloud. His life seems to be destined for controversy. Toni Morrison eventually leaves the reader with a "choose your own ending" configuration. As in Beloved, Morrison's unique style of ending a novel with no finalization, only enhances the content and tickles the imagination. Evidence of the influence of Zora Neale Hurston is sprinkled liberally throughout the story. In addition to folklore and mythology, Song of Solomon is also rife with the cold, hard facts of reality. Did Milkman actually become airborne or was he merely a man, consistently trying to escape reality?


Toni Morrison's, Song of Solomon, was inspired in part, by All God's Chillun Had Wings (Andrews et al 103). According to this folk tale, at one time all Africans could fly. Through transgressions, they lost the ability of flight. On occasion, someone would shake off the weight of their burdens and be able to fly. Only a select few held onto remnants of the memory of flight. According to a legend in Hurston, the transgression, ...

... middle of paper ... converge in the distance. Soon they begin to twine and twist together. At the core, is a solid rope, with each strand braided neatly with the others to form a tightly woven story. With its many parts, but only one beginning, Song of Solomon is absolutely, the "perfect soft-boiled egg" (40).


Works Cited

Andrews, William L., et al. The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.

New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1997. 103

Barnhart, C.L., et al. The American College Dictionary. New York: Random House, 1970. 919

Heinze, Denise. The Dilemma of "Double-Consciousness": Toni Morrison's Novels. Athens: The University of Georgia Press, 1993. 14

Hurston, Zora Neale. Hurston: Folklore, Memoirs, & other Writings. Ed. Cheryl A. Wall. New York: Penguin Books,1995. 315, 581, 597, 618

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

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