Essay on Dysfunctional Families in Song of Solomon

756 Words 4 Pages
Dysfunctional Families in Song of Solomon

The African American families in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon present abnormality and dysfunction. Normalcy, seen in common nuclear families, is absent. The protagonist, Milkman, is shaped by his dysfunctional relationships with parental figures.

The abnormality of the mother and child relationship is apparent in Song of Solomon. The mother figure seems to have misguided hopes. Toni Morrison, presents an image of an unnatural, extended time of maternal bonding. The character, Ruth, breastfeeds her son, Milkman, until he is four or five years of age. Ruth breastfeeds Milkman for this unnaturally lengthy amount of time because it makes her feel like her son is a part of her.
…show more content…
In Song of Solomon, the father provokes fear in his children. Oddly, Milkman's sisters seem to look forward to the anger and tension of their father. Morrison writes, "The way he mangled their grace, wit, and self-esteem was the single excitement of their days...Without the tension and drama he(the father) ignited, they might not have known what to do with themselves" ,and the sisters "waited eagerly for any hint of him.(11)" Rather than expressing love for their children verbally, the father figures often show their love through actions and through providing for the children. We see an example of this in the poem "Those Winter Sundays" by Robert Hayden. The father in this poem wakes especially early in the morning to chop wood, start a fire, and make the house warm for his son. Despite the father's loving actions, the son speaks indifferently to him and never thanks him.

In Morrison's novel, the father sees love as ownership. After Milkman begins working for him, he is "delighted. His son belongs to him now and not to Ruth(63)." In addition, the father wishes for his son to focus less on education and more on the "American Dream". He tells Milkman, "Let me tell you right now the 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(55)." Milkman's father did not have any respect for college graduates. He believed that "college was time spent

More about Essay on Dysfunctional Families in Song of Solomon

Open Document