Song of Solomon

Critical Analysis of Naming and Imposition in Song of Solomon College

In Toni Morrison’s novel, Song of Solomon, the names of people and even of places take center-stage as arguably the driving motif of the book. Names are used to create Biblical allusions and delineate legacy among related characters, but one of the most significant contributions this motif makes to the story is examining the importance of being able to accept and embrace one’s name for the sake of developing a healthy sense of identity; the text considers this issue in depth primarily by exemplifying how reductive of identity it is to have a name imposed rather than embraced.

The reductive qualities of the imposition of a name stem from the fact that the individual on whom the name was imposed must be defined, at least partially, by something outside the self, even in the eyes of the individual in question. Identity becomes particularly problematic for both self-perception and the perceptions of others when it is based in any capacity on something that is not actually part of the person being identified. First and foremost, this principle applies to the name, Milkman, because Freddie bestows it upon Macon Dead III by simply spreading the name and its pertinent gossip throughout the community in which Macon Dead, Jr. owned many...

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