In Song of Solomon, the longing for flying is a very strong theme throughout the novel. It is clearly connected to the longing for freedom given that the main character’s ancestors were slaves, but also, symbolically connected to the concept of salvation. Song of Solomon is also a story about a black community, racial segregation (which are basically the dominant subjects in Morrison’s writings), isolation, and a quest for Milkman’s identity and that of his community and family. Toni Morrison besides being awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Obama in 2012.
In Song of Solomon, the main characters are heavily influenced and conditioned by their biblical names. So it comes as no surprise that the tone of the novel was considered somewhat mystical, since the tales used to exemplify the different quests of the characters in the book, rooted in African folklore, bear similarities with those that originate from the Bible. Frankly, why deny that the Bible is in fact a mere folkloric book upon which institutions that exert ecclesiastical power and rule over other communities have been based; just as white men have done with black communities. In this sense, it is also interesting to point out that Milkman’s father teaches his son to own things and other people; just as white men who had owned black slaves. This materialistic, despicable attitude towards other human beings was embraced by Milkman.
Towards the end of the novel however, Milkman seems to regret his attitude towards others and tries to rid himself of certain prejudices, avaricious values and customs that had prevented him from flying. Although, since Song of Solomon is a book filled with contrasts, those luxurious displays do not stop the peacock from flying.
As the story goes on, it seems that the Milkman develops a sense of social awareness and sympathy or compassion for his fellow black folks, although, since the contrasts are plastered all over the book, these changes in Milkman’s attitude are fueled by pure individualism and egoism.