Sona Ramnani 2/15/12 EN10258 Professor Blumberg Rough Draft2 “Then she felt the magic, the African mystery. Say she rose just as free as a bird. As light as a feather” (Hamilton 3) A tale that liberates most, an African mystery, moves generations of Africans as well as other races with a sense of liberation. “The People Could Fly” gives people a wishful fulfillment. The story is a thorough fantasy of suffering and of magical powers to reach the liberation the people once had. Flying, is an escape. It leaves one in complete release. The People could fly” folktale almost makes those who hear it think that people can actually fly to freedom. However, when reaching this freedom, there are costs. Leaving ones family behind, or consequences of the escape. Nonetheless, it must have been done. In Toni Morrison’s novel Song of Solomon, she liberates us with this sense of flying and escape. The novel, Song of Solomon’s characters accept human flight as a natural occurrence, kind of like the folktale shows it, to liberation. Song of Solomon begins with a suicide attempt from an African American man.
Instead of trying to get him down, people simply watch and observe rather then prevent his leap thinking that his flight to liberation may be possible. Throughout the rest of the novel, Morrison traps the reader in themes of struggle for family relationships, the importance of ones name, and independence “The fathers may soar? And the children may know their names”? This quote foreshadows Milkman, the main character’s, journey throughout the novel and his own pursuit of freedom and flight. This quote also is subject to the bond between father and son.
Milkman has always been distant with his family in some ways and mostly with his father. When receiving the nickname “Milkman”, “It did nothing to improve either one’s relationship with his father” (Morrison 15). Macon Dead was a man with no depth. His cares revolved around money and material items, and showing any sign of love towards his son was uncommon. This relationship created a underlying hatred between father and son and Milkman “differed from him as much as he dared” (Morrison 63) He soon starts to look for something different, “a people” or a different nature, ones who care and weren’t that like his family.
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Chimamanda Adiche, African writer would say “He was looking for a different story”. Unknowingly this is where Milkman’s path to flight begins, where he soon discovers old-fashioned “southern hospitality”. On his trip to Danville, a stranger offers him a ride and a drink, when Milkman tries to pay the man he receives a reply “I ain’t got much, but I can afford a Coke and a lift now and then” (Morrison, 255). His experiences there show him the build of complete generosity and he learns of a new kind of people where he feels connected unlike at home where he always felt like an outsider.
This leads Milkman’s sudden transformation, the reader watches him grow selflessness. Helping strangers and he realizes “From the beginning his mother and Pilate had fought for his life, and he had never so much as made with of them a cup of tea” (Morrison, 331). During his journey in Danville, Milkman is on the search for the importance in names. Throughout the novel is has given him a lot of conflict because or where his name was originated from and how it had bad old pasts to it.
In Danville he is on a hunt, an obsession to learn how his fathers name originated and pursued the origin of his grandfathers name as well. He had come to the realization that, “When you know your name, you should hang onto it, for unless it is remembered, it will die when you do” (Morrison, 329). This also creates a sense of caring for Milkman, towards his newfound family origin as well as the people he regretfully treated. “The fathers may soar” excerpt in the quotation really sets in at this point in the novel.
Flight comes full circle from the beginning to the very last sentence of the novel. For practically his whole life Milkman did not care too much about any other human being. Then he slowly started to change in Danville. He started to care about others and the relationships he had with them “Milkman felt as awkward as he sounded. He had never had to try to make a pleasant impression on a stranger before, never needed anything from a stranger before, and did not remember ever asking anybody in the world how they were” (Morrison, 229). Milkman became a new person, he was independent nd like his great-grandfather he was ready to fly. Ever since he was little he had this determined state of mind that “only birds and airplanes could fly- and he lost all interest in himself”(Morrison, 9). His entire life was an unconscious search for his ability to take flight. When seeing a peacock, Milkman asks his best friend Guitar, “How come it can’t fly no better than a chicken? ” ?? “Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can’t nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down” (Morrison, 179).
This directly showed milkman that he needed to give up all the materialistic wants, the hatred toward his family, the incapable lack of emotion and soon he begins to “not to notice or care about the rip at the knee or under the arm” (Morrison, 254) Soon he learns that it is in his blood to fly, that there was hope and a chance for his to feel free of all the vanities that have been bringing him down for years. At the very end of the book Milkman is in a near death situation and he is not afraid “He knew what Shalimar knew: If you surrendered to the air, you could ride it” (Morrison, 337).
Works Cited The Danger of A Single Story. Perf. Chimamanda Adiche. 2009. Online. Hamilton, Virginia. "Amazon. com: The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales (9780679843368): Virginia Hamilton, Leo Dillon, Diane Dillon Ph. D. : Books. " Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Knopf, 1977. Print. Acknowledgments I would like to acknowledge my classmates as well as Professor for leading me in deep discussions to further my ideas of these novels, readings, as well as videos.
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