The epigraph of the novel Song of Solomon states, "The fathers may soar-and the children may know their names." The theme of identity as a step in flying is clearly portrayed throughout the novel as Morrison writes of Milkman's journey to find his own identity in order to fly. All throughout his life, Milkman dreams of flying, but finds difficulty in completing his quest to solve the mystery of flying. Being hunted down by his best friend because of the gold that instigates his journey, Milkman's expedition is prolonged due to him being very distracted. Unknowingly, his quest to find the gold Macon Dead and Guitar Baines both desire leads to Milkman's finding of the true meaning of flying. He is able to realize the power of flight in the final moments of his journey. In her novel, Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison communicates that gaining self-knowledge allows for the freedom of flight.
Morrison proves throughout the novel that the only way to fly is by abandoning all burdens. Milkman Dead, an avid dreamer of flying, slowly realizes that the only way to soar is by leaving everything behind and riding the wind on his journey of self-knowledge. His previous actions, that of a peacock, shows that his vanity is one of the main things that holds him down, as Morrison writes, "Too much tail. All that jewelry weighs it down. Like vanity. Can't nobody fly with all that shit. Wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down" (179). The beautiful peacock symbolizes Milkman's view of the world in the beginning half of his life. Born into a wealthy family, Milkman takes everything for granted and lavishes himself in the riches that he feels he deserves. Just as a male peacock's majestic feathers hold him down, Milkman's vanity holds him back from realizing who he really is and being able to fly. Vanity is like unnecessary jewelry. It creates a sense of greed within the holder.