Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon, features Milkman Dead, a young black man searching for what he can claim as his own. He searches for something that isn't tainted by his past, racism, or his internal family feuding. Although Milkman's characteristics seem noble, Morrison's portrayal of him in her novel does not instill sympathy within her readers, since her portrayal is a rather negative one. Milkman, like his great-grandfather Solomon, has no sense of commitment to those around him. His wish for flight' was selfish and motivated by greed, and Solomon's flight was in response to the intolerable pressures and constraints set forth on him by his masters. In doing this, they have both abandoned the people that loved them the most "their family. .
Milkman's twisted relationship with his parents leads him to rebel, sending him to seek out the comfort of his forbidden aunt, Pilate. Milkman is drawn to Pilate for the "forbidden knowledge- she posses. Not only is Pilate his spiritual guide, but also his surrogate mother, in the sense that she helped preserve his life. Milkman admires Pilate because she posses something his wealth cannot buy him, her ability to "fly without leaving the ground- (pg. 25). Although Milkman admires his aunt, he eventually betrays her by stealing her sack of bones.
Like his father, Milkman exploits the women that he claims to "love-. This is evident through Milkman's treatment of Hagar, whom he considers a sexual object only to be used at his convenience. Although they are intimate with one another, Milkman never considers Hagar part of his life, his family's or the lives of his "respectable- friends. Finally, he decides to end the affair during Christmas, with a letter that is the emotional equivalent to that of his father's eviction notices. In his letter he writes: "Thank you for all that you meant to me. For making me happy all these years. I'm signing this letter with love, of course, but more than that, gratitude.