Essay On Names In Song Of Solomon

1520 words - 6 pages

The Importance of Names in Song of Solomon

 
   Abstract:  In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, names have great implication.  Language is extremely personal and deeply rooted in culture.  Names are an integral part of language, and they help to establish identity, define personality, and show ownership through formal and informal usage.

 

" 'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; / Thou art thyself, though not a Montague. / What's Montague? it is nor hand, nor foot, / Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part / Belonging to a man.  O, be some other name! / What's in a name? that which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet; / So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call'd, / Retain that dear perfection which he owes / Without that title.  Romeo, doff thy name, / And for that name which is no part of thee / Take all myself."

            -William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

 

            In the play Romeo and Juliet, William Shakespeare claims that a name is just a name; that it has no real significance.  Individual names and the names of cultural and racial groups can be very influential, however, as Malcolm X explains in his On Afro-American History, "So they'll say whites, Puerto Ricans and Negroes.  Pick up on that.  That's a drag, brothers.  White is legitimate.  It means what color they are.  Puerto Ricans tell you that they're something else, came from somewhere else, but they're here now.  Negro doesn't tell you anything" (16).  In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, which describes the tribulations faced by an African American family attempting to define and find themselves, names have great implication.  Language is extremely personal and deeply rooted in culture.  Names are an integral part of language, and they help to establish identity, define personality, and show ownership through formal and informal usage.

 

            The concept of naming in Song of Solomon was first introduced through a local road known as  "Not Doctor Street."  The street's title was commonplace after years of colloquial reference from locals, but never truly official:

 

Town maps registered the street as Mains Avenue, but the only colored doctor in the city had lived and died on that street, and when he moved there in 1866 his patients took to calling the street, which none of them lived on or near, Doctor Street.  Later, when other Negroes moved there, and when the postal service became a popular means of transferring messages among them, envelopes from Louisiana, Virginia, Alabama and Georgia began to arrive addressed to people on Doctor Street.  The post office workers returned these envelopes or passed them on to the Dead Letter Office.  Then in 1918, when colored men were being drafted, a few gave their address at the recruitment office as Doctor Street.  In that way, the name acquired a quasi-official status. (4)

 

However, the status did not last long because city legislators disapproved and...

Find Another Essay On Essay on Names in Song of Solomon

Essay on the American Dream Revised in Song of Solomon

1134 words - 5 pages 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

Essay on Milkman’s Search for Identity in Song of Solomon

676 words - 3 pages identity.   Works Cited: De Arman, Charles. "Milkman as the Archetypal Hero." Obsidian: Black Literature in Review 6.3 1980. Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Penguin Books, 1987. Smith, Valerie. "Introduction,", in New Essays on Song of Solomon, ed. Valerie Smith, Cambridge University Press. 1995.

Essay on Personal Freedom Song of Solomon

1641 words - 7 pages Search for Personal Freedom Song of Solomon       Personal freedom is the ability to ignore societal and familial influences to find the true sense of self. Individuals are truly liberated when they are physically, mentally, and spiritually free. The search for personal freedom is exemplified in Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. The main protagonist, Milkman achieves personal freedom through attainment of knowledge, by confronting his

Themes in Song Of Solomon

2194 words - 9 pages African-American man would face in a time of extreme racism and poverty in out country. Song of Solomon begins in the 1930s in Michigan, when your protagonist, Milkman, is born. At this time in American history, racism was on a decline in northern states and as turbulent as ever in southern states. Many African-Americans felt they could obtain more freedom and better employment opportunities. This was the Great Migration, which resulted in the

Song of Solomon Essay: Devotion and Protection

609 words - 2 pages Devotion and Protection in Song of Solomon  Song of Solomon is a novel written by Toni Morrison. As research is done further, into the bible, the title refers to a book from the Old Testament. A major theme of the book in the bible is love. It is about honor and loyalty. This is similar to the theme of love and protection in the book by Toni Morrison. Three female characters that portray this best are: Pilate, Ruth, and Magdalene

The Double Minority in Song of Solomon

829 words - 3 pages Morrison's Song of Solomon, the African American female characters demonstrate the impact of having a double minority status. The female characters in Song of Solomon exhibit the difficulties for double minorities. Macon Dead and his family are a prominent, middle-class African American family. Although slavery has been over for a long time, the Dead's house has a feel of a prison. Macon seems to be the master of his house, and the women in his

Time in Toni Morrison's "Song of Solomon".

1751 words - 7 pages The history of Black America is one that has been stolen, lost and largely forgotten over the past two centuries. Through slavery and more recently the Apartheid-like era of Jim Crow laws, black history has been clouded over with oppression and hatred. Toni Morison's Song of Solomon is an attempt to explore the muddled path of history through the confused life of Milkman Dead. Morrison places Milkman in a world full of characters that are

The Song of Solomon

2940 words - 12 pages importance in Song of Solomon, because they are among the only fixed repositories of history--and even names are not particularly fixed. Milkman's family takes its name from the first Macon Dead, who was given his name by a drunken Yankee soldier at the Freedman's Bureau. Milkman recovers his true name, Jake, and also discovers that, in the town of Shalimar, Virginia, his family's history is diffused into the very geography in place names and

Song Of Solomon

766 words - 3 pages devoted to the black cause, he turns violent, randomly murdering whites. This love is driven by the void created when his father died and although Guitar’s love sharply contrasts that of Milkman, they both use love to fill a gap in their life.      Song of Solomon uses sexual themes to explain a search on which every character embarked. Milkman, Pilate, Ruth, and Guitar, among others, are looking for love and sex to

Song of Solomon

1144 words - 5 pages Toni Morrison’s novel, Song of Solomon, encompasses many themes that were prevalent in the other novels written in the same time period. Morrison produced this novel in 1977 just as racial issues and discrimination were at its peaks. “She [Morrison] was the first African American to receive the Noble Prize in Literature.” (Milliman 5) However, the setting of the story is in the 1930s when World War II was taking place. The novel is based on an

Song of Solomon Commentary

1134 words - 5 pages Shekar 1Suraj ShekarMrs. BosticIB1 Literature 4B6 November 2013Symbols of Material Wealth in Song of Solomon The novel Song of Solomon expresses the ideas of racism, exploration, and class distinction as author Toni Morrison weaves together the complex story of Milkman Dead. He is brought up by what is portrayed as a family with a scarred past, and travels along the pathways of its consequences. Through his journey, Morrison tends to assign

Similar Essays

The Importance Of Names In Toni Morrison’s Song Of Solomon

891 words - 4 pages The Importance of Names in Toni Morrison’s Song Of Solomon Toni Morrison’s award-winning novel Song of Solomon is full of very interesting, deep symbolism. Macon Dead III, nicknamed “Milkman,” is a very symbolic character throughout the novel. His character is not only symbolic, for so is his name. Also, Milkman’s paternal aunt, Pilate, has an extremely significant and symbolic role in the novel. To her father, she represents the child

Essay On Identity In Song Of Solomon

2172 words - 9 pages , 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, was eating salt. The Africans brought

Essay On Control In Song Of Solomon

1036 words - 4 pages Fight for Control in Song of Solomon     The idea of complete independence and indifference to the surrounding world, symbolized by flying, stands as a prominent concept throughout Toni Morrison's novel Song of Solomon. However, the main character Milkman feels that this freedom lies beyond his reach; he cannot escape the demands of his family and feel fulfilled at the same time. As Milkman's best friend Guitar says through the novel

Essay On Dysfunctional Families In Song Of Solomon

791 words - 3 pages Dysfunctional Families in Song of Solomon   The African American families in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon present abnormality and dysfunction. Normalcy, seen in common nuclear families, is absent. The protagonist, Milkman, is shaped by his dysfunctional relationships with parental figures.   The abnormality of the mother and child relationship is apparent in Song of Solomon. The mother figure seems to have misguided hopes