Personal freedom is the ability to ignore societal and familial influences to find the true sense of self. Individuals are truly liberated when they are physically, mentally, and spiritually free. The search for personal freedom is exemplified in Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. The main protagonist, Milkman achieves personal freedom through attainment of knowledge, by confronting his family, and by overcoming the prejudices of society.
Knowledge is a primary factor in the attainment of personal freedom. This includes not only scholarly education but also awareness of historical heritage and familial legacy. The fact that African-Americans were held in human bondage cannot be forgotten; it has to be remembered and passed on through rememory. Moreover, literacy gives minority cultures a voice to reach out to others with encouragement and hope.
Milkman has a high school education which he took for granted. For Milkman to achieve personal freedom, he needs to search for his ancestral roots. Milkman's father, Macon Dead, Jr., denies Milkman his rememories because Macon assumes that achieving the American Dream means erasing his past. However, as stated above, Morrison believes Milkman has to remember; he has to know his past in order to know his self. His father taught him that Athe one important thing you'll ever need to know: Own things. And let the things you own own other things. Then you'll own yourself and other people too@ (Morrison 55). Macon falsely leads Milkman to believe that "You'll be free. Money is freedom Macon. The only real freedom there is" (163). Milkman buys into his father's fallacy as he too frantically searches for the gold that will s...
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... personal freedom is not an easy one, but we must persevere. Milkman's realization of his personal freedom came as his life ended. We must all remember the old Chinese proverb "The longest journey begins with a single step".
Carmean, Karen, Toni Morrison's World of Fiction, Troy: The Whitston Publishing Company, 1993.
Morrison, Toni. Song of Solomon. New York: Plume,
Peach, Norman. Modern Novelists Toni Morrison. Ed. Norman Page. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1995.
Storhoff, Gary. "'Anaconda Love': Parental Enmeshment in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon." Style 31 No. 2 (Summer 1997). 290-309. September 18, 2001 <http.//p26688.cl.uh.edu:2071/cgi-bin/web>.
Willbern, David. "Reading After Freud." Ed. G. Douglas Atkins and Laura Morrow. Contemporary Literary Theory. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1989. 158-179.
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