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 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 of his mother. As confusion quickly turns to anger, Milkman reflects on his thoughts at the time and the fact that his words were ignored by Macon. Instead of letting the situation be and making apologies, "He comes to me with some way-out tale of how come and why" (76). Milkman did not want to participate in this discussion, but he had no choice.

 

 

Milkman must  go on a difficult journey. He was never a slave. His family has money and education; however, Milkman is not satisfied. He longs to be connected to his past. He leaves everything behind to discover his roots, and his journey, though it leads to his death, is accomplished for he is free. His dream has been reached, but he cannot reap its benefits. Milkman cannot enjoy the success he shares with his family until he finds his people from the South. He retraces the history that he gathered from his family and recounts it to his people in Georgia where he discovers more truth and more myths. This revisiting of his roots is a characteristic of Africans, even if they are not direct descendants of Africa. Their dream cannot be accomplished until they are sure where their people belonged centuries before the recent generations existed.

 

 

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