Racism in Toni Morrison's Song of Solmon
Milkman is born on the day that Mr. Smith kills himself trying to fly; Milkman as a child wanted to fly until he found out that people could not. When he found, "that only birds and airplanes could fly&emdash;he lost all interest in himself" (9). The novel Song of Solomon is about an African American man nicknamed Milkman. This novel, by Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison was first published in 1977, shows a great deal of the African American culture, and the discrimination within their culture at the time Song of Solomon takes place. In part one, the setting is in a North Carolina town in the 30's and 40's.
Part one introduces readers to not only Milkman, but also to his family and friends. His father holds power in the African American community because he has his own business and is ambitious. Milkman's mother is a center figure in the community simply because her father was the doctor. Milkman has a mysterious unmarried Aunt, with a single daughter and granddaughter. He also has a friend, Guitar who is a member of a group of seven African American men dedicated to keeping the 'ratio' between blacks and whites the same. Throughout the novel, Milkman gradually learns about his families past as well as forgotten pieces of his own childhood.
In part two, Milkman goes south to his father's hometown. He is looking for a fortune that his father and aunt had found long before. When he does not find the fortune he begins trying to find where it went. This takes him to where his great grandfather and mother originated. Milkman eventually is led to the town where he is a direct descendant of the town's legend, Solomon. It is in this town that Milkman finds himself and becomes his own man.
Throughout this tale, Toni Morrison weaves a picture of the racism in the African American community. She shows racism within the characters of her novel. With this, she gives readers a truer understanding of how life was for African Americans even after slavery was over. There are four kinds of racism in the novel Song of Solomon: African Americans against whites, White against black, Black against black and Native American against African American. Morrison uses the conversation of her characters, the actions of her characters, and the emotions of her characters to show racism.
When Milkman visits the woman who delivered both his father and aunt he is shocked when she tells him, "Splendid. I don't like those Negroes in town" (246). Circe, the old woman, did not appreciate the African American's in town because "Everybody does what he likes nowadays (242).
Macon Dead Sr., is a racist man. His daughter tries to explain to a man from the Southside of town, "He never wanted us to mix with…people" (195). Macon himself explains when his son is taken to jail the reason was, "you was with that Southside nigger. That's what did it" (203). Macon is prejudice towards African Americans who don't try to be white,...