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The Moral and Psychological Development of Milkman

The Moral and Psychological Development of Milkman

The coming of age, also known as bildungsroman, is a literary genre typically used in novels, that targets the psychological and moral growth of the protagonist. The moral and psychological development of Macon Dead III, or Milkman, in Toni Morrison’s Song of Solomon is due to the pivotal moments he experienced throughout his life. A pivotal moment is defined as an event that is crucial to the development or success of something. An example of a pivotal moment in which was crucial into the development of Milkman was meeting Guitar.
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The significance of Guitar in Milkman’s life is seen as Milkman’s naive and egocentric nature matures into someone who eventually finds his true identity. Before this development, Milkman is a selfish and immature individual who lacks any kind of sympathy for others. He seems to share the same characteristics as his father, Macon Dead Jr: greedy and quite arrogant. On the path to his development, he digs deep into the past of his family and finds their values. He comes across his aunt Pilate and his father’s caretaker, Circe, in which they both reveal a past that Milkman is unfamiliar with. It is clear that the formation of this relationship caused a clear change in his life, connecting to the theme of finding your true identity and becoming one within yourself. Milkman before his first encounter with Guitar, was an individual struggling to find the true values in life. It is as if he is still a child due to his immature personality and lack of self identity.
For the majority of his adolescence, he has been surrounded by an arrogant, aristocratic father and a submissive mother who is scared to stand up to her husband. Milkman is also scared to stand up to his father, along with the rest of the people living in his estate. Like his father, he sees value in materialistic objects and is very indifferent. Milkman has no respect for women nor the impoverished black people that live in the town. In addition, he is not able to maintain a long, loving relationship with women as he is constantly disbanding the people who care for him. Due to his lack of commitment to his family, his community, and basically everything else, he is rather alienated in society and not up to date to the racial conflicts that are occurring. Unlike Guitar who firmly believes in justice, Milkman does not care about the racial injustices happening nor does he care about fighting for it. Despite Guitar recommending Milkman to become apart of the Seven Days Society, Milkman declines as he drifts aimlessly through life. When Milkman reaches thirty one years of age however, he hears that there is a possibility of gold existing inside a cave in which his father grew up. Milkman thinks that if he acquires this gold, he will most certainly have the wealth and power that he needs to be free of his father.
Although embarking on a journey to find gold, he is on a journey to find his true identity.The commencement of Milkman’s psychological development was when he took a trip down South. In chapter 3 of part 1, the story shifts to the perspective of a 22 year old Milkman. After revealing a story regarding her behavior at the wedding of the granddaughter of one of her father’s former clients, Ruth is viciously slapped by Macon. Milkman immediately jumped to protect his mother, knocking his father to the floor. He threatened to take his life if he was to ever abuse her like that again. Later, Macon explains the story behind his estranged relationship with Ruth to Milkman.
Overwhelmed by his father’s sordid story, Milkman leaves and heads for Southside, hoping that Guitar can help him sort out his confusing thoughts. Guitar knows that if Milkman wants to fly, he must first cease his arrogance, and his materialistic values. Guitar tells Milkman “Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down.” His mission to find Pilate’s gold allows him to learn where his nickname came from and the history of his family. Also, he rids all of his material possessions while he was in Pennsylvania, which enables him to understand the concept of flight.
In addition, it makes Milkman realize that his life shouldn’t be about the greedy need for materials; something his father failed to notice. Progressively, while in Virginia, Milkman learns his family has traces in Shalimar. Upon arriving, he feels somewhat connected to the people there. This feeling of connection is a feeling that is lacked in his own home town, which is quite strange. His mission to find Pilate’s gold takes him back to his ancestral roots, enabling him to learn the origin of his name and to reconnect with the black community This connections reminds him of his feelings when he is with Pilate and because of this, Milkman becomes eager to discover more of the past.

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The Moral and Psychological Development of Milkman. (2019, Aug 08).
Retrieved July 20, 2022 , from