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Song of Solomon: How does Toni Morrison reveal flight as a way to escape?

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Song of Solomon: How does Toni Morrison reveal flight as a way to escape? Since ancient times, humans have been fascinated with the idea of flight. As one watches a bird fly, he cannot help to yearn for the same ability. It is a common human desire to be able to free oneself from the trials and tribulations of life, and just leap, take flight and soar off into the peaceful blue sky, never looking back. Flying is a way to free oneself from the chains of oppression shackling one to the ground. The theme of flight goes further in Toni Morrison?s novel Song of Solomon where she demonstrates that flying both figuratively and literally represents a means of escaping oppression. The epigraph of the novel addresses the theme of fleeing by flight: ?The fathers may soar and the children may know their names? (Morrison 2). It depicts that flight lets men rise above oppression, and escape the chains holding them to the ground. ...read more.


The day after Mr. Smith?s flight, Milkman Dead is born. At age four, he realizes that human flight is impossible. This realization causes him to alienate himself from the community, his family?s love, and his heritage. ?Mr. Smith?s blue silk wings must have left their mark, because when the little boy discovered, at four, the same thing Mr. Smith had learned earlier ? that only birds and airplanes could fly ? he lost all interest in himself ?(Morrison 6). As Milkman grows up, his alienation and the stress of his family?s emotional chaos cause him to dream of escape. Consequently, Milkman literally flies away from Michigan to Pennsylvania in search of gold, and subsequently, his own identity, consequently leaving behind his lover and cousin, Hagar. Hagar, lovesick and distraught soon dies of a broken heart. However, the main force behind the theme of flight and how it affects those left behind is rooted in the story of Solomon, Milkman?s great-grandfather. In the tale, Solomon flies back to Africa to escape his life of slavery and return home, literally flying away from his oppression. ...read more.


Milkman is finally able to free himself from his own oppression and truly and clearly see the possibilities of human flight. All throughout the novel, almost every character that takes flight ends up emotionally scarring those around them by through abandonment, breaking families and hearts that they leave in their wake. However, only one character truly masters flight. Pilate is able to ?fly? without ever abandoning those around her: "Without ever leaving the ground, she could fly" (Morrison 337). She never lets the chains of oppression grab hold of her, thus she never needs to fly away from those who need her. Morrison uses literal and metaphorical flight to represent an escape from oppression. The characters that fly in the novel are all fleeing away from some form of oppression in their lives. Whether it is a suicide attempt or a cry to find oneself, all, with the exception of Pilate, cannot bear their burdens and selfishly leave their duties for impossible freedom. Pilate is the only true flyer; she spiritually and physically brushes off her oppressors and flies freely. ...read more.

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