Like most Americans, African Americans have developed variations of the American Dream. Many African Americans find that their dream differs from the traditional American dream in that there is no immediate success. Sometimes the dream consists of equality via liberty or literacy, while at other times it is a simple desire to know self through historical connection.
In Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, Milkman was literate and had many options for further education, if so desired. Milkman was apathetic toward education and work. In fact, he was not sure what he wanted from life. Initially, he thought the best thing for his life was to leave his family and home. In order to do so, he needed money. His father, Macon gives him the task of searching for a bag of gold in his Virginian hometown. Macon fought Pilate for a particular bag of gold as children, and Macon believes the gold remains in the original location as it was when they were young. Milkman wishes to locate the gold as means to accomplishing his goal to achieve financial independence.
While on this quest, Milkman discovers his true dream, to discover "who he really is" and his family heritage. Milkman's version of the African-American dream is one of uncovering the past, a past that has been covered and lost through slavery and post-abolition renaming. Where his grandfather and father choose to leave the past behind, Milkman chooses to retrace their steps.
Through Macon, Milkman has been fed numerous variations of history. Pilate, his aunt, continues much of the same distortion. He is unsure of history and reality. In listening to his father's story, we read of Milkman's feelings, "Deep...
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...ng his dream. With no immediate success, as occurs in the traditional American dream, Milkman sought to work towards the goal with patience and determination. Once he acquired the dream or a part of that dream, he turned around and gave back to his people, family and friends, in an effort to help those around him. Milkman's story, describes the quest for the African American dream of equality, and in that, exercising his inalienable rights.
De Arman, Charles. "Milkman as the Archetypal Hero." Obsidian: Black Literature in Review 6.3 (1980): 56-59.
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: The Penguin Group, 1977.
Peterson, Nancy J. Toni Morrison: Critical and Theoretical Approaches. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1997.
Rice, Herbert William. Toni Morrison and the American Tradition: A Rhetorical Reading. New York: P. Lang, 1996.
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