When it comes to the indication of “coming of age”, the state of adulthood does not always associate together. The meaning behind this does not always correspond with the explanation of being an adult and proves to us that there is a more noble way to grow as a person. People going through experiences and being influence are aspects of life to develop more. Things that on the surface may not seem to have lasting effects are usually the most impressionable of situations. Though personality traits derived from cultural experiences are often seen early on in life, they can continue to develop and evolve even into adulthood. And it is in adulthood where realizations are made subsequently due to these very situations. It is also apparent that age does not always commensurate with maturity, for with maturity comes understanding. Influences also play a major role in a person’s character development. Influences also can affect attitude, complexion, motivation and fundamental perspectives and reactions. This judgement was thoroughly embodied in the novel Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison. This novel delved extensively into the coming of age of main character Macon “Milkman” Dead.
Milkman’s nickname was acquired from an awkward and random situation. As being breastfed by his mother Ruth, way past the age of normalcy, the townspeople used the pet name to describe the situation as they saw fit. The over extension of the breastfeeding lends itself to the queer idea of an incest consanguinity. It was as if Milkman’s mother was using her son to try and fill some sort of void that had been left within her. This situation also atones the literal realization of one being attached to a secure mothering source past the requisite for such.
Milkman Dead, son of Macon dead II, was raised in a financially comfortable home unlike most African Americans of that time. Macon, although considered the provider of the family seemed to rule with an iron fist. “Macon kept each member of this family awkward with fear” (Morrison). The hatred he had for his wife was eminent and the phlegmatic nature he had towards his daughters seemed to mangle their grace and self-esteem. “… Ruth began her days stunned into stillness by her husband’s contempt and ended then wholly animated by it” (Morrison). Early in the novel, one can clearly see where the idea of misogyny is introduced. In addition to Macon’s apathetic feeling to the women of his household, these feeling are outstretched with even more fervor to his sister Pilate. “You can’t get much worse than that for a name. and a baby girl at that” (Morrison). When milkman wet his sister with his own urine, it appears to be a clear manifestation of the misogynistic qualities of his father. It gives merit and substance to the biblical suggestion of the sins of the father being passed on to the son.
With Macon being the sole source of income to the Dead family, he represents a symbol of equality amongst the races. It is evident however that he feels his money absolves him from other black responsibility. Macon seemed to have an eerily stark feeling of racial hate, but within his own race. It was as if money or the color green, rather, created a gray area for him; choosing to consciously neglect the racial barrier that was incontestable. Macon took his role of power and exerted in on any bystander who was around to witness and ensured his son was taught the same ideals as well. “Own things” Macon said, “and let the things you own, own other things… I’m going to teach you how” (Morrison). This scene foreshadows the path that milkman will follow; a path that he will follow his father’s footsteps right into isolation. Impaired by his father’s influence, was the only one he knew at his age and with no other point of reference, it was all he knew.